Film Review: Return To Gandhi Road

The extraordinary story of Kangyur Rinpoche, a great Tibetan spiritual Master and Teacher, and his odyssey to leave his country with  84,000 original sacred Buddhist texts. As the Chinese Army moved in. Interwoven with the story of New Zealander Kim Hegan, a music promoter who nearly fell off the floor, not having engaged in this kind of thing before. But yes, I think it can be easily done as Highway 61 took him back to Gandhi Road to reconnect spiritually with his Teacher.

Film Review:  Return To Gandhi Road
Director: Yeshe Hegan  Producer: Kim Hegan

The documentary tells the story from both ends. In the early Seventies, a small number of Westerners heard about and made a pilgrimage to see this Tibetan Spiritual Master and Teacher, who had his monastery in Darjeeling. This was northern India and the foothills of the Himalayas.

Hegan in his twenties was a surfer and a student. When he made the hippie trip to India, he learnt the sitar and consequently stayed for six years.

The trip to Darjeeling in those days was difficult and arduous. Permits were needed and only granted for short periods.

When they finally got there, all were transformed by presence, or mana of Rinpoche.

Hegan suffered an epileptic seizure. He needed a lot of sedation and was advised to go back home. He observes that in a way he remained medicated for most of his life. Lost contact with Buddhism. Entered the family’s entertainment management business when his father could no longer work.

Mysterious forces resulted in a calling to return to 54 Gandhi Road and reconnect with that seemingly lost path. It was also a time to reconnect with his daughter Yeshe, living in France.

As the Director, Yeshe Hegan has made this a stunning visual commentary of one of the most powerful and mystical regions of the world. One that New Zealand has an enduring link to.

Kangyur Rinpoche was born in 1898 at dawn, according to legend. Gifted as a scholar from a young age. Undertook long retreats and long periods of privation to become a high teacher. Lived in the Kham area of Tibet. A place known for its toughness in an already challenging environment. Harder than the rest.

He was a venerated spiritual Master and a traditional Doctor, when the Iron Birds of the ancient prophecy appeared. According to ancient texts, this would signal the flight of the lineage to the West.

The Chinese Army appeared over the hills and flying above. The darkness, repression and destruction began.

Rinpoche saw his mission to preserve the ancient original texts by packaging them up and transporting them by foot across the mountains to India and refuge. With his family of six plus wife. Two hundred porters. Three years. Attrition and death were high for Tibetans fleeing the onslaught.

There is some archival footage. Most of the story is related by two of Rinpoche’s sons. Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche and Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche.

Kangyur Rinpoche died in 1975, and one of his Western followers relates the sense of loss he felt at the time. But Kim Hegan also tells us the reconnection he made with this return journey. The energy and presence were still there, even after so many years.

And so, it relates to this special and difficult time. This is the story of how the energy and presence came to be here now when it is needed.

Rev Orange Peel