DR. SINGHA BAHADUR BASNYAT: Flight With Jureli

After serving decades in Nepal’s diplomatic missions, former ambassador to United Kingdom Dr. Singh Bahadur Basnyat explored Nepal’s immense diversity and beauty through the eye of the Jureli bird

March 24, 2014, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -18 Mar. 21- 2014 (Chaitra 07, 2070)

As a Nepali career diplomat, Dr. Singha Bahadur Basnyat travelled around the world and served for Nepal in many countries. However, his great attachment continues to be with Nepal’s nature, religious shrines and diversity.  His mind and heart are always with Nepal.

Endowed with great talent in singing and violin, Dr. Basnyat was always popular among small crowds. It took a while for the public to learn of his talents. The credit to bring Dr. Basnyat in the public goes to ambassador of Israel to Nepal Hanan Godder, who supported Jureli as a symbolic idea going from its nest to mountains and Himalayas, religious shrines and plains of Nepal.

With the vast creative things in mind and heart, Dr. Basnyat finds Jureli, a bird, with power to fly to all parts and all regions of Nepal, a perfect symbol. The Jureli flies over mountains and temples as well as religious shrines in different times. Master in International Affairs (MIA) from University of Columbia, New York and a Master in Philosophy (M. Phil) and a Ph.D in political science from George Washington University, Washington, Dr. Basnyat showed his musical talents at programs organized by ambassador of Israel Hanan Godder.

Ambassador Godder, who is also lover of Nepal’s nature and beauty, offered Dr. Basnyat to present his talent in Shivapuri in 2013. Dr. Basnyat presented his refined version of the song at the picnic in Toplan in 15th March, 2014, again at ambassador Hanan's request.

Here is what Dr. Basnyat says of his Jureli.

Singha Bahadur Basnyat

Why do you chose Jureli bird?

Poor Nepalese villagers from ancient times pondered about Jureli thus: what food Jureli might have eaten, what clothes she might have worn. Human beings have been expressing their own hardships through the medium of the bird. As an urban guy, I expressed a curiosity about the love life of the bird.

Do hearts read the vocabulary of Jureli?

Our vocabulary was different, yet we both started decoding our respective voices. Instead of answering this, Jureli, the light winged nymph of the tree, asked me to fly with her. I am startled. The bird literally wrote most of the text after that. Flying with Jureli in a fast moving flight of imagination, she showed me the habitats and landmarks of our bewitchingly bewildering Nepal. Our journey was complete in ten minutes or so, it fit the lyrics, music and duration of the song. Tour started after Jureli advised me to perform the prayer at Pashupatinath temple first.

What did Jureli answer?

To end with, Jureli answered: yes I am in love with the Nepal which is the land of human nature adorned with varieties of lovely birds (about 840).

Why is Jureli so important?

Surprisingly, when I expressed my late life madness and anger, Jureli consoled me in a spiritual manner highlighting the existential bond between her and human beings thus: Both happiness and hardship are part for achieving salvation. After all, our soul will fly away. Our body will vanish, dust to dust.

How does Jureli comes in your imagination?

A sort of bird inspired flight of imagination gripped my mind in January 2013. This happened because in one TV interview around that time, the legendary Nepalese scholar Satya Mohan Joshi mentioned about how some villagers in remote areas of Nepal, years and years back, had pondered about the beautiful Nepali Jureli bird in one sentence preserved in their oral tradition reflecting their own pain, sorrow and human condition of bondage. I was inspired when Satya Mohan Ji told me that one liner has deep philosophy. For a while, I expressed profound gratitude to him. I imagine it is the same bird that had serenaded ancient sages, seers, ordinary people, emperor and clowns. That very Jureli delights me with all friendly gestures every morning, every evening every day in my garden.

How are you spending retirement?

Retired a decade earlier, I was 70 years old in 2013. Yet I was eager to do something creative to keep myself occupied. In that sense, I felt retirement meant I should not have a single day off. Some kind of mental and physical time-out seemed necessary to realize that my brain bulbs are changed occasionally to pursue new ideas.

How did the idea come?

Soon thereafter, while I was pondering about a few lines to further amplify the one liner mentioned by Satya Moahan Ji, I explained ambassador Hanan about some initial thoughts on Jureli. He seemed delighted with the idea, got the book on the bird, showed me the picture of Jureli and invited me to join his guests for picnic at Nagarjuna top and present the Jureli lyrics and music composition in violin. Accordingly on February 2013, the first draft was presented then. Since then my flight of imagination got me into a dialogue with the Jureli at my garden.

How do you compose the lyrics?

With Hanan’s words, “Nepal is gifted with rich natural beauty”, in the back of my mind I kept on composing both lyrics and music. A few months later, at the picnic in Shivapuri National Park, at Ambassador Hanan's kind request, I presented the second part of the composition of songs in violin. Finally, at the picnic in Toplang in 15th March 2014, again at ambassador Hanan’s request, I was happy to present the final and finished version. All told, I wish to express deep gratitude to ambassador Hanan. At the same time when I saw the lovely Rhododendron flowers blooming around the top of Toplang area, I was happy to play in violin one Nepali melody popular in good old times: Hera Na Hera Kancha Danda lai Phulley Dhakyo……

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