The Half-closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowly Sinking Sun Summary-PDF

About Writer

Shankar Lamichhane (1928-1975) was born in Kathmandu but lived in Banaras with his uncle at a young age. After receiving a college education at Tri-Chandra College in Kathmandu, he took his first job at the age of twenty-two and worked for a number of governmental and cultural institutions in the capital. In his later years, he became the manager of a handicrafts store. Lamichhane was an admirer of modern American fiction and frequently mixed with foreign visitors to Nepal. His stories are heavy with symbolism, often lacking a conventional plot and more closely
resembling essays, but his prose is rich and poetic.

Characters:

  • A tourist guide
  • Tourist(western)
  • A paralyzed boy
The Half-closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowly Sinking Sun

Short Summary:

The story ‘The Half-closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowly Sinking Sun‘ was written by Shankar Lamichhane. This story is taken from Himalayan Voices: An Introduction to Nepali Literature translated and edited by Michael Hutt. The story deals with the monologues of two characters a tourist guide in Kathmandu valley and a foreign tourist. The story is different from conventional stories and, instead of showing actions and events, the story records what the two characters think in a stream of consciousness technique.

This story expresses the feeling of western tourists visiting Kathmandu Valley. At the beginning of the story, the tourist expresses her feeling to the tourist guide. The story begins by describing the beauty of Kathmandu valley. Its geometric fields, its earthen houses of red, yellow, and white, the scent of soil and mountains in the air, and its peaceful environment. She perceive that the blue hills outspread his arms and called her to embrace.

When she first landed at the airport, she feels like welcomed by the half-closed eyes of Buddha. It is a peaceful place where one acquires calmness. She told that she lives in the plains or beside the sea. The tourist didn’t get such a chance to see such beauty in her place. She says to us(Nepalese) that we are living in a temple but we are not aware now.

She also praises the religion and tradition of Nepal. The tourist says that easterner has given westerner, the religion arid the Puranas, images of brass and ornaments of ivory, manuscripts of palm leaves and
inscriptions on copperplate and also civilization.

A tourist said that she had read so many books in libraries. She has known all the history of Kathmandu valley: Kathmandu Valley was once a lake. The Manjushri cut a gorge at a place called Chobhar Gorge and drained away the waters to establish habitable land. She also praises the gaze of monks and nuns. It is a sight that perceives everything in its true form. She also talks about the artist of wooden images of different styles and ornamentations. A tourist talks that Nepal is a Multi-cultural and religious country. Aryans, non-Aryans, Hindus, and Buddhists all came and obtained a rebirth here and Nepali soil enable them to flourish together.

They went for dinner. They saw an old man is telling his grandson about each and every Nepali item that Princess Bhrikuti took with her when King Amshuvarma sent her off to Tibet. The son’s wife making fresh momos. The son’s wife puts some of them onto a brass plate, and the old man’s words are garbled and obscured by his mouthful. The grandson laughs, and the old man tries to swallow quickly, so he burns his tongue and, unabashed, pours out a stream of ribald curses. A tourist says that these scenes cannot be read in an old book in a library, and that is why she has had to come to Kathmandu and soak herself in its atmosphere.

She(tourist) also talks about different types of eyes. The eyes of the carved lattice windows, the eyes painted on the door panels. The eyes on the stupas, the eyes of the people. And the eyes of the Himalaya, which peep out from the gaps between the hills like those of a neighbor’s boy when he jumps up to see the peach tree in your garden. These eyes represent the culture and religious diversity, civilization, and natural beauty of Nepal. She said that this is a land of eyes, a land guarded by the half-closed eyes of the Lord Buddha(peacefulness). And if we destroy all the history books then these eyes would again build a new culture; they would reassemble a civilization. Finally, she talks about the magical eyes and expresses her desire to see the pleasant eyes of sunset reflected on the eyes of buddha, unforgettable eyes.

The second part of the story deals with the feeling of the guide. Now, the guide talks to tourists about the place. The guide takes her to the Chobhar hill, where people come to see the cleft that was made by Manjushri’s sword and the outflow of the Bagmati River. He shows her various image on the rock drawn by the artist and the temple of Adinath. The guide said that there is a shrine of Shiva, several Buddha images, and many prayer wheels, inscribed Ommani padme hu.’ it is a living example of Nepalese tolerance and coexistence. But the guide didn’t take her to this temple due to lack of time.

The guide takes her to the farmer’s house to find the pulse of our reality. There was a child in the home, who was physically disabled, attacked by polio. A guide said that yesterday you(tourist) urged me to show eyes that would forever remind you of your visit to Nepal. So I(guide) have brought you here to show you eyes like that.

The boy’s whole body was useless; he couldn’t speak, move his hands, chew his food, or even spit. Every vein, nerve, and bone is powerless to
heed the commands of his brain. His eyes are the only living parts of his body and it is only his eyes that indicate that he is actually alive. The guide compares the boy’s eyes with samyak gaze. The guide said to tourists, I know that this disease occurs in your country too. But the ability to endure it is surely only be found in an Easterner.

The guide said to the tourist that he told his parent that she is the doctor who came to treat his son. They were happy; their faith, intimacy, kindliness, and gratitude were visible in their eyes. They think of her as the eldest son who has brought a life-restoring remedy across the seven seas for his brother.

The child has a sister whose body functions properly work. He was busy in doing mess(गडबड) activities. She saw a gleamed light in the child’s eyes when his mother scolded his sister for not doing such activities. A boy surely wanted to say that it is fun that he can’t do. A boy is ashamed of him thinking that he can’t give a history, tradition, and culture to his nation.

At last, the guide said to the tourist that she only sees the eyes that welcome her but she can’t see such an eye which was full of sorrow. These eyes hide the end of life. Look! They are just as beautiful as the setting sun’s reflection in the eyes of the Buddha!

Main Summary

The story expresses the feeling of a western tourist visiting The Kathmandu Valley and a tourist guide. The tourist expresses her feeling to the tourist guide. The story begins by describing the beauty of Kathmandu valley- its geometric fields, its earthen houses of red, yellow, and white. The scent of soil and mountains is in the air, arid there’s an age-old peacefulness in the atmosphere that attracts her(tourist). She perceive that the blue hills outspread his arms and called her to embrace.

When she first landed at the airport, she feels like welcomed by the half-closed eyes of Buddha. It is a peaceful place where one acquires calmness. She told that she lives in the plains or beside the sea. The tourist didn’t get such a chance to see such beauty in her place. She says to us(Nepalese) that you are living in a temple but you are not aware now.

She also praises the religion and tradition of Nepal. The tourist says that easterner has given westerner, the religion arid the Puranas, images of brass and ornaments of ivory, manuscripts of palm leaves and
inscriptions on copperplate and also civilization and its wisdom and garlands of jasmine flowers around our necks.

A tourist said that she had read so many books in libraries. She read not only about the geography of Nepal but also the ancient of Nepal. She has known all the history of Kathmandu valley: the valley is filled with water, and a lotus flower blooms where Swyambhunath now stands. Manjushri strikes with his sword at Chobhar. She also praises the gaze (a sight that perceives everything in its true form) of monks and nuns who receiving alms and spreading the law in the nooks and crannies of the Kasthamandap.

She also talks about the artist of wooden images of different styles and ornamentations. A tourist says that Nepal is a Multi-cultural and religious country. Aryans, non-Aryans, Hindus, and Buddhists all came and obtained a rebirth here and Nepali soil enable them to flourish together.

A tourist and tourist guide went for dinner. They saw that an old man who sits in the upper story of his house, lit only by the fire. Perhaps the smoke is filling the room like fog from floor to ceiling. Perhaps he is telling his grandson about each and every Nepali item that Princess Bhrikuti took with her when King Amshuvarma sent her off to Tibet. The old lady smokes tobacco from a bamboo hookah, and, mindful of the old man, she carries on making fresh momos. The son’s wife puts some of them onto a brass plate, and the old man’s words are garbled and obscured by his mouthful. The grandson laughs, and the old man tries to swallow quickly, so he burns his tongue and, unabashed, pours out a stream of ribald curses.

A tourist says that these scenes cannot be read in an old book in a library, and that is why she has had to come to Kathmandu and soak herself in its atmosphere. The tourist expressed his joy by revealing different types of smiles. It was a smile from his soul. She assumed herself as the eldest son who come home after a long day’s work in the fields, and her labors had been fruitful. She feels happy of thinking that how his family comes to welcome her if she was his eldest son. Mother and beautiful wife come to the door to welcome, his sister’s husband and friend come to welcome her in their arm.

Then she also talks about different types of eyes. The eyes of the carved lattice windows, the eyes painted on the door panels. The eyes on the stupas, the eyes of the people. And the eyes of the Himalaya, which peep out from the gaps between the hills like those of a neighbor’s boy when he jumps up to see the peach tree in your garden. These eyes represent the culture and religious diversity, civilization, and natural beauty of Nepal. She said that this is a land of eyes, a land guarded by the half-closed eyes of the Lord Buddha. And if we destroy all the history books then these eyes would again build a new culture; they would reassemble a civilization. Finally, she talks about the magical eyes and expresses her desire to see the pleasant eyes of sunset reflected on the eyes of buddha, unforgettable eyes.

The second part of the story deals with the feeling of the guide. Now, the guide talks to tourists about the place. The guide takes her to the Chobhar hill, where people come to see the cleft that was made by Manjushri’s sword and the outflow of the Bagmati River. The guide shows her a rock on which a young village artist has drawn some birds. Nearby, he has sketched a temple, leaving out any mention of the religion to which it belongs. Guide also shows her the temple of Adinath. The guide said that there is a shrine of Shiva, several Buddha images, and many prayer wheels, inscribed Om
mani padme hu
.’ it is a living example of Nepalese tolerance and coexistence. But the guide didn’t take her to this temple due to lack of time.

The guide takes her to the farmer’s house to find the pulse of our reality. There was a child in the home, who was certainly no divine incarnation, either. Attacked by polio and born into a poor farmer’s household, the child was surely incapable of spreading the law or of making any contribution to this earth. He had taken birth here in one of his maker’s strangest forms
of creation. A guide said that yesterday you urged me to show you eyes that would forever remind you of your visit to Nepal. So I have brought you here to show you eyes like that.

The boy’s whole body was useless; he couldn’t speak, move his hands, chew his food, or even spit. Every vein, nerve, and bone is powerless to
heed the commands of his brain. His eyes are the only living parts of his body and it is only his eyes that indicate that he is actually alive. The guide compares the boy’s eyes with samyak gaze. The guide said to tourists, I know that this disease occurs in your country too. But the ability to endure it and to maintain a total indifference in the eyes, even, perhaps, to foster the samyak gaze, this capacity for remaining speechless, inactive, powerless, and immobile, and yet to survive without complaint . . . this can surely only be found in an Easterner. Yesterday you said me to saw something in my eyes that I never forget, so I bring you here.

The guide said to the tourist that he told his parent that she is the doctor who came to treat his son. They were happy; their faith, intimacy, kindliness, and gratitude were visible in their eyes. They think of her as the eldest son who has brought a life-restoring remedy across the seven seas for his brother. He told to tourist that their smile converted into a sad scene when she went back.

The child has a sister whose body functions properly work. He watches her as she crawls around, picking up everything she comes across and putting it into her mouth, knocking over the beer, overturning the cooking stone. She saw a gleamed light in the child’s eyes when his mother scolded his sister for not doing such activities. A boy surely wanted to say that it is fun that he can’t do. He wants to experience these all but he can’t do it. A boy is ashamed of him thinking that he can’t give a history, tradition, and culture to his nation.

At last, the guide said to the tourist that she only sees the eyes that welcome her but she can’t see such an eye which was full of sorrow. These eyes hide the end of life. Look! They are just as beautiful as the setting sun’s reflection in the eyes of the Buddha!

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