Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.

After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.

I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme.

29 September 2013

Tree for Karma Nyedhon Gyatso, september 29 2013

writing this on quiet morning in Bangalore:

I drew this tree at Bharat Bhavan Art Complex graphic studio, one day before hearing the sad news of Shichung's self-immolation in Ngaba, Amdo Tibet on Sep. 28th.

BBC at the hotel TV had reported another earthquake, another terrorist attack, succession of 'another' at the previous night. I had gone to sleep feeling sad and helpless.

When I arrived at the studio in the following morning, green trees at the complex looked so fresh and alive and the vast surface of the lake below was shining quietly.

Such a contrast of light and darkness of this world.

So I started drawing trees, one big and one small. while drawing, the face, the calm profile of Karma Nyedhon Gyatso, came up in my mind. As I had witnessed him sitting quietly at the main temple in Dharamsala last November, he cross-legged quietly and set himself in flame in Kathumandu on August 6th this year.

This tree is dedicated to him, the one who had walked through Tibet and to India with his hands. And left this life with a determination.