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The Half Closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowly Sinking Sun || Summary and Exercises || Compulsory English Grade 12, Short Story


The Half Closed Eyes of the Buddha and  the Slowly Sinking Sun || Summary and Exercises || Compulsory English Grade 12, Short Story

Short Story


The Half Closed Eyes of the Buddha and

the Slowly Sinking Sun

-Sankhar Lamichhane



Before Reading

a. What does a Nepali tourist guide think about foreign tourists?

Ans:- Nepali tourist guide think about foreign tourists that they only know that Nepal is rich in natural beauty, cultural heritage, religious diversity, rich in art but they don't know the actual gloomy situation of people living in remote villages.


b. What do common Nepali people think of a fair-skinned foreigner?

Ans:- The common Nepali people think of a fair-skinned foreigner that they are rich and they visit country like Nepal to enjoy natural beauty and to read our tradition, culture, art and languages.


c. Why do you think foreign tourists visit Nepal?

Ans:- There are various reasons behind foreign tourists visiting Nepal. But most of them come here to enjoy natural beauty, observe cultural, language, and religious diversities. And Nepal is not a rich country and they can afford easily to come here and wonder around.



About the Author:

v Shankar Lamichhane (1928-1975), Kathmandu but lived in Banaras with his uncle at young age,

v One of foremost essayist of all times,

v He introduced stream of consciousness (expression of the multitudinous thoughts and feelings pass through the mind) in Nepal,

v Educated from Trichandra College,

v Worked for a number of governmental and cultural institutions,

v Became the manager of a handicrafts store,

v Stories are heavy with symbolism,


About the Story:

v This story is taken from Himalayan Voice: An Introduction to Nepali Literature,

v Based on the monologue of the two characters- a tourist guide in Kathmandu valley and a foreign tourist

v Use of stream of consciousness technique, different from the conventional story that shows actions and events

v It focuses on the minds of the characters,

v Stream of consciousness tries to capture the natural flow of a character's extended thoughts process-sensory impressions, incomplete ideas, unusual syntax and rough grammar, (the term is coined by an American writer William James)



1. The Tourist

2. The Guide

2. The Farmer's Family

4. A Paralyzed Child

5. A little sister


Setting: Kathmandu



The tourist expresses an extreme happiness after stepping his foot in Nepal. The green valley (Kathmandu), the scent of soil, mountains, and peacefulness really attract the tourist. The tourist assumes that it is a fate to be born in such a beautiful country. The tourist lives in the plains or beside the sea and floating in vastness that is why country like Nepal attracts him. The half close eyes of the Buddha always seem to be welcoming the guests. According to the tourist, the East has given religion arid the Purans, images of brass and ornaments of ivory, manuscripts of palm leaves, inscription on copperplate, civilization and wisdom. The tourist even knows our history. The guide can lead him only on the streets and alleyways of the present but he can take him the guide to his ancient ways. He tells the story of origin of Kathmandu valley. The valley was full of water and in a place a lotus flower bloomed. Manjushree outlet the water through a gorge he made striking with his sword at Chovar. The place where a lotus bloomed resides Swyambhunath. He can identify samyak gaze in the eyes of the monks. This symbolizes purity.


The tourist admires the beauty and incredibility of wooden crafts. He admires the artistic works of the Nepalese artists. He also tells another story behind constructed tiled roof. The concept of tiles came in his mind when an artist saw foam bubbles of wine which was served to him by his wife while he was crafting. He again praises cultural diversities on the country. He admires the soil that enabled all the races to flourish together.


The Nepali and Newari foods served to him are awesome. He is very much grateful to the guide. The old man is sitting in the upper story of house telling the story of Bhrikuti and Anshubarma to his grand son; an old lady while smoking tobacco from a bamboo hookah is making fresh momos. The old man's daughter in law is serving momos onto a brass plate. While swallowing the momos he burns his tongue. These typical Newari family life styles and natural smiles of these people can't be read out in an old book in library that is why he has come to Kathmandu. The smiles are warm welcome. He is welcomed as one of the members of that family.


He is also fascinated with they eyes of the carved lattice window, eyes on the Stupas, eyes of the people, eyes of the Himalaya etc. He finds the country to be a land of eyes and the land protected by the half closed eyes of the Lord Buddha. The following day, the tourist wants to visit a lonely place with a Stupa with eyes and wants to see the pleasant light of sunset reflected in the eyes of the Buddha.


The guides want to show some eyes to the guest. He takes him at Chovar hill where people come to see a gorge made by the sword of Manjushree for an outlet the water from the valley. He wants to take the tourist to Adinath temple. There is a shrine of Shiva, several Buddha images, many prayer wheels. This is an example of coexistence.


Then the guide takes the tourist to a farmer's family where he can find the pulse of reality. The family works hard. They have a child who is attacked by polio. His whole body is useless. He can't speak, move his hands, chew food, or even spit. His eyes are only living parts of his body. The guide doesn't know if the tourist finds the samyak gaze in his eyes. The face of the boy is devoid of all emotion. His gaze is inactive, listless. The guide asks the tourist to take himself in that position. This is such a miserable condition people are facing in East. Then the guide takes the tourist to the parents of the child. He has told them that he is a doctor. They have faith in him. Their intimacy, kindness and gratitude are found in their eyes. They are happy and smiling and have a hope of treatment to their son. There is intimacy, kindness and gratitude in their eyes. The old peasant woman smiles as if she is rejoicing at the birth of her first grandchild. The child has a sister. He keeps on watching her crawl and picking up something and putting it into her mouth, knocking over the beer and overturning the cooking stove. While his mother is scolding his sister he looks as if he wants to speak. He observes the different activities of her sister. His sister is learning lots of things going through her experiences of own. But the boy can't do anything just gazing.


Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. How does the tourist describe his initial impression of the Kathmandu valley?

Ans:- As soon as the aeroplane crosses the Four Passes of Kathmandu, he observes green valley Kathmandu along with its geometric fields, houses of red, yellow and white. He fells the scent of soil and mountains in the air. He finds long lasting peacefulness in the environment.


b. According to the tourist, why is the West indebted to the East?

Ans:- The West, according to the tourist, is indebted to the East because because it has given them religion, the Puranas, images of brass and ornaments, manuscript of palm leaves, manuscript on copperplate, civilization and wisdom.


c. How does the tourist interpret the gaze of the monks and nuns?

Ans:- The eyes of shaven headed monks and nuns are interpreted as the samyak gaze by the tourist. Their gaze is pure without contamination.


d. Why do the tourists think Nepali people are wonderful and exceptional?

Ans:- The tourists think Nepali people are wonderful and exceptional because they are living in a peaceful and beautiful land surrounded by greenery and mountains. Their houses are like temple full of art and crafts.  People spend time crafting the images of their deities in spare time. People of different culture and religion are living in harmony.


e. What are the different kinds of communities in the Kathmandu valley and how do they coexist with each other?

Ans:- People belong to different races and religions are living in harmonious way in the Kathmandu valley. Both Aryans and non-Aryan, Hindus and Buddhists are flourished together there. There is no division among people in terms of cast, creed, ideology, race, and religion.



f. What does the tourist feel about the temple of Adinath?

Ans:- The temple of Adinath doesn't belong to a specific religion. In the courtyard of the temple, there is a shrine of lord Shiva, the supreme god of Hindus. Along with this, there are several idols of Buddha around the temple. There are many prayer wheels inscribed 'Om mani padme hu'. This is the living example of Nepalese tolerance and coexistence. The variety of gods, religions and philosophies do not affect the children playing happily there.


G. Why does the guide take the tourist to the remote village?

Ans:- The tourist has only observed and read incredible and wonderful things about Nepal. But the reality is totally different as the tourist perceives this country. The guide wants to show him the pathetic condition of people living here. He wants to show the pulse of reality through a poor farmer family. The family has a paralyzed child and he wants to show the reality of a polio victim child living in a remote village. The villagers are living in a miserable condition in this wonderful land. 


h. What does the innocent village couple think of the doctor?

Ans:- The author/guide has lied the innocent village couple that the fair skinned person is a doctor. Their intimacy, kindliness and attitude show that the tourist is their eldest son who has brought a life restoring remedy across the seven seas for the child (brother).


i. What are the differences between the paralyzed child and his sister?

Ans:- The paralyzed child and his sisters show the two different modes of lives. The paralyzed child shows what a life is if your whole body doesn't function properly. What does it feel to live when you can't speak, move, chew food, just you can gaze. He expresses everything through eyes. In contrast his sister can crawl, eat, cry, move etc. She can learn different things through her own experiences.  


j. Why does the guide show the instances of poverty to the tourist?

Ans:-  The tourist admires the incredible beauty, diversity, culture, art, lifestyle of people living in Nepal. But he hasn't seen the gloomy aspect of the life of people living here. Even people can't cure diseases and have to live a life of hardship. Far from Kathmandu valley, people in remote areas are living with difficulties. The writer wants to show such a reality to the tourist.  


Responding to the Context

b. Which narrative technique is used by the author to tell the story? How is this story different from other stories you have read?

Ans:-  The narrative technique used in this story by the author to the story is 'Stream of Consciousness'. The writer of the story "The Half-Closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowing Sinking Sun" Shankar Lamichhane is identified as the writer who first introduced this technique. The stream of consciousness technique is coined by the American Writer William James. The thought process of the character is captured in a realistic way in this technique. Rather than action and events, character's psychological state is important. This shows the function of brain moving from one place to another. This story is written applying stream of consciousness technique; it has not a linear development of a particular event. Other stories have a complete story that has beginning, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. The characters involve in different incidents. They perform certain action. We don't find such thing in this story. We are taken into the minds of the two characters and we know them how they think. The story is told through the monologues of the two characters: the tourist and the guide.


b. How is the author able to integrate two fragments of the narration into a unified whole?


Ans:-  The author of the story "The Half-Closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowly Sinking Sun" integrates two fragments of the narration into a unified whole by presenting different references, different eyes etc. There are two perspectives in which we must view this country. Having one perspective on Nepal is always incomplete. It has both beautiful aspect and gloomy aspect. The natural beauty, history, religion, art, culture, coexistence are incredible. These are the assets of Nepal. But faraway from city in remote area people are living destitute lives. People have limited land, lack of opportunity and they have to work hard for survival. These people are kind, innocent and ignorant. Westerns have only heard about its incredible property and people living Nepal have forgotten its real value. Westerns haven't seen the hardship people are undergoing here. The writer has tried to combine these two fragments to make a unified whole. To have a clear understanding of Nepal everybody must cast their eyes on these two aspects.



c. The author brings some historical and legendary references to the story. Collect these references and show their significance in the story.

Ans:- In the story 'The Half-Closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowly Sinking Sun' bring different historical and legendary reference. The first reference is about Purans, brass images, ivory ornaments; palm leaves manuscripts, copperplate inscriptions, civilization and wisdom. This reference indicates that Nepal is rich in art, culture and religions. The Second reference the writer brings in the story is the story of Manjushree who played a remarkable role to settle human in Kathmandu valley. It is believed that the gorge in Chovar is because of his strike with his sword to outlet the water through the Bagmati River. He is remembered for settling human in the valley. Similarly shaven headed monks and nuns represent that this land is land of peace and purity. The reference of Princess Bhrikuti and King Anshubarma shows the marital relationship between two neighboring countries. The half closed eyes of the Buddha indicate that this land is protected by Lord Buddha. The temple of Adinath signifies the living example of Nepalese tolerance and coexistence in spite of religious and cultural varieties.


d. The author talks about the eyes in many places: the eyes of the shaven monks and nuns, eyes in the window and door panels, the eyes of the Himalayas, the eyes of the paralyzed boy, the eyes of the welcoming villagers and above all the half-closed eyes of the Buddha. Explain how all the instances of eyes contribute to the overall unity of the story.

Ans:- The author talks about the eyes in many places: the eyes of the shaven monks and nuns, eyes in the window and door panels, the eyes of the Himalayas, the eyes of the paralyzed boy, the eyes of the welcoming villagers and above all the half-closed eyes of the Buddha. All these instances of eyes contribute to the overall unity of the story. The eyes of shaven monks and nuns indicate that this is the land of purity and wisdom, the eyes in the windows and door panels indicate the artistic richness, the eyes of the Himalayas indicate its natural beauty, the eyes of the paralyzed boy indicate the hidden reality i.e. poverty and hardship, the eyes of the welcoming villagers indicate how innocent, kind and grateful Nepali people are, and the half closed eyes of the Buddha indicate that this land is protected by the lord Buddha. These eyes are the different realities or aspects of this Land. These eyes give a true identity of Nepal. It means that Nepal can be viewed from the different perspective. It also indicates the diversity and uniqueness.






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