Thomas K. Shor, an American writer had once abandoned the book but earlier this year in January it was first published in India by Harper Element (An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers). The reason, he felt a physical threat for his transgressions against Subash Ghising , that occurred in Sikkim in 2001. To find answer to the question that was beyond his comprehension. He openly asked Gurudev the question in presence of devotees and some of the attendants. “What is Gurudev’s relation with Subash Ghising?”
In his quest for a writing project, Thomas had come to Darjeeling during the spring of 2001 as he was keen to know about Himalayan culture, especially its spiritual traditions. However, the Darjeeling Hills then was declared a bandh (strike) by Subash Ghising who survived the brutal attack on his way while returning Darjeeling from meetings with government officials in Delhi.
Ghising was a political leader of Darjeeling Hills. He founded Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) in 1980 and was the chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in West Bengal, from 1988 to 2008. The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) replaced the DGHC after the GTA body was formed in August 2012 through a West Bengal state act.
Due to the political unrest in 2001, the writer fled to the neighbouring land of spectacular natural beauty Sikkim, which is a few hours’ drive from Darjeeling. On visiting Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, he left his belongings at a hotel and went on a pilgrimage like a wandering ascetic. It was on his second day in Sikkim and by chance he met a Himalayan Master, Gurudev in a small village in Temi (South Sikkim).
Gurudev is a Tibetan Lama and a rinpoche born in the Phoobsering Tea Estate, Darjeeling. He is considered reincarnation of Guru Padmasambhava by Buddhist and Lord Krishna by Hindu. He was declared a tulku (reincarnated) by his holiness Dalai Lama in 1956. His real name is Tulku Karma Wangchuk. People call him Gurudev with fervor as ‘Guru’ means spiritual teacher ‘Dev’ means divine or god. It is said when Gurudev was eleven years old, he could chant Sanskrit mantras, even though he had never learnt them. It was the same with Tibetan, he knew it all from before. Stories of his divine childhood, his miracles and his ability to be in two places at the same time did raise random questions in the mind of the writer. Thomas was fortunate to be invited by Gurudev into his inner circle, offering him a unique glimpse into a master’s life and his teaching of universal love. The writer was enthralled by the royal respect the master received. It was as if the world around him was under the master control, people obeyed every word he said and he could read one’s mind. He had complete command of both the script and the director. People prostrated before him like he is a living god.
As Thomas embarked on a spiritual journey with a Himalayan master, the writer find himself falling in and out of his spell. He discovered that the master is an enigma and that everything he does seems a cipher to a vast mystery. There is struggle going on within the writer trying to figure out who this man called Gurudev is. According to the writer, Gurudev is a superlative actor, the master director. He manipulates everyone to take part in a movie to which he alone seems to have the script. The very fact of Gurudev offering the opportunity to travel along leaves Thomas wondering at his luck.
When Thomas returned to Darjeeling from Sikkim he is left befuddled to learn that Gurudev is Subash Ghising’s Guru. He could not understand the unholy alliance between politician and holy man. The most surreal was when he read in a newspaper (2007) that Bimal Gurung had started coming every morning to Tukvar (Gurudev’s home) to get Gurudev’s blessing and that the new party flag was Gurudev’s creation, blessed by him and the colours had mystical significance. Thomas could not understand Gurudev’s relationship with the two leaders. Was Gurudev using his connection with the politician to raise his own star and gain fame? Were the politicians using him to gain support under the cover of a saint? Or was Gurudev using his association with politicians to positively influence them?
During his last days in Darjeeling Thomas came across a German woman Barbara living in Kalimpong who ran an NGO, which turned out to be the greatest fortune of his life. Thomas married Barbara, the couple was blessed by the divine Gurudev and they left Darjeeling forever.
Gurudev always exuded the happiness he always did regardless of the circumstance. His teaching was that of universal love and compassion to all. All questions of believing in it all or not dissolved in the love that is undeniable. The Master Director is a true story and a journey through devotion, doubt and politics with a Himalayan Master, Gurudev!