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Lord Buddha, enlightenment and cell phone



We were waiting outside to enter into a historic ancient Buddhist temple in the temple-city of Bagan in Myanmar in Far-East Asia. The temple door was closed for the noon-prayer of the monks. After several decades of self-imposed isolation, Myanmar recently opened its border to the international community, while trying to modernize its infrastructures.

In modern hotels, computers were slow to connect to the virtual world. This was making my fellow millennial travelers Rupankar and Rashmita, my nephew and niece, frustrated for not being able to connect to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Then, the door of the temple opened and maroon-robed monks started to come out in a line.

Once emptied, we were allowed to go inside to approach the giant enshrined statue of Lord Buddha. Suddenly, both Rashmita and I realized that Rupankar was missing.

Not overly-alarmed, we assumed that he must had been exploring some historic artifacts that came to his attention. After a reasonable period, we found him all smiling and relaying to us a few recent global news. It turned out that while all the monks were coming out from the sanctuary, Rupankar noticed that the elder monks were still praying by counting on their old-fashioned bead-necklaces, but the younger ones who might have joined recently, went towards a different direction and quickly pulled out their cell-phones from underneath the robes. That was when Rupankar decided to follow them while keeping a distance and soon ended up under an old banyan tree where the monks gathered and started to use their cell-phones.

To his surprise, Rupankar himself was able to connect to internet and check out his favorite sites, convincing him that it was no miracle but a so-called “hot Wi-Fi zone”. It must had been deliberately created by the wise elder monks near that old banyan tree. For the millennial generation of monks, to give up their cell-phones will be the first hurdle to cross towards their enlightenment and until then, they are allowed “to pray” via their cell-phones.


This story was written by Sankar Chatterjee. A PhD-level scientist, Sankar Chatterjee possesses the passion for traveling worldwide to immerse himself in new culture and customs to discover the forgotten history of the society while attempting to find the common thread that connects the humanity as a whole for its continuity. His most recent (2016) essays appeared in Scarlet Leaf Review, Quail Bell Magazine, The Missing Slate, Travelmag - The Independent Spirit and will appear in Three Drops from a Cauldron (in press), respectively.
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