Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö’s Head

Before I get into the head…

In India it is quite common to see dozens of school-kids crammed into a rickshaw, or a train with at least half its passengers sitting on the roof, or yesterday’s example of a four-member Tibetan family riding a tiny motor scooter along a puddled, pot-hole ridden track. In this case, Pa was driving, the seven-eight year old sat in front of him, the five-six year old behind him in the embrace of his mother, who sat side-saddle at the rear. What made this family so appealing was that they were all singing at the tops of their voices as they made their way in the afternoon rain. I wasn’t quick enough to get a picture, sadly; I was too busy enjoying the spectacle.

Later, as I explored one of the four shrine rooms in OT Rinpoche’s house, I discovered a full-sized, life-like representation of Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö sitting opposite a similarly life-sized Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

It occurred to me relatively quickly (given that middle age has dipped this rusty mind in concrete and my thought processes are now generally more dogged than brisk) that the head used on the Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö image must be the one fashioned by technicians at Madame Tussaud’s in Paris. I recognized it because I brought here in my very bulky and frankly unmanageable hand luggage on one of my first trips, several years ago. We had become quite close because the head had lived on my shrine for a month and a half, and I was sorry to have to give it up.

I remember being terrified about transporting a human head through airport security. Surely, I reasoned, someone would become suspicious when such a potentially grisly shape showed up on a scanner. But noone turned a hair and, in fact, were far more interested in my mascara.

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