The Size of the Buddha

— Haris Adhikari

the steps of Swayambhu
most mornings,
in curiosity,
I would go to school, looking back
at the towering statue
of the Buddha.

I would, in great amazement—

‘Why is Buddha so tall (even
in his sitting posture!)

and fat
and long-eared…
compared to
the young prince in the story I read about in school…’

Unable I am,
still after so many years,
to come up with the answer
that could satisfy my questioning child

when he says—

‘Why make bigger images
against a reality
that needs no embellishment
goodness of the heart…
against a reality
that is so hollow now…’

** **

As a fifth grader, I went to Ananda Kuti Vidya Peeth which lies a little below on the lap of the hill on top of which the famous Buddhist shrine Swayambhu is. Every school day I walked all the way from Chhetrapati, a downtown area in Kathmandu back then, to my school. It would take almost an hour for me to get there. And on the way uphill, there were (and still are) these amazing larger-than-life size Buddha’s statues which often caused me to question their size!

(First appeared in Cyclamens & Swords Publishing)

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