Society

Searching for eternal bliss

Former actor Barkha Madan

Former actor Barkha Madan  

A journey into the life of former actor Barkha Madan, who found happiness as a Buddhist nun

Life has its strange ways of guiding you. You strive for material accomplishments, attaining some and aspiring for some more, only to develop a deeper void within you. You choose not to strive too much and people around admonish you. Such is the life in today’s times that material achievements ring hollow. One such life story is of Barkha Madan aka Gyalten Samten.

In stars Barkha searched for solace but it was in darkness where she found peace.

To get you acquainted with Barkha, she at one time competed with the likes of Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen in the Miss India beauty pageant in 1994. While Aish went on to become Miss World, Sushmita bagged the coveted Miss Universe. Consequently, both of them came into the limelight. But Barkha had to rest content with her 15 seconds of fame. Yes, she settled as a runner-up at Miss Tourism International at Kuala Lumpur.

But, she had a nice smile, a gorgeous figure and a pleasant face. From thereon she went on to become an actor.

Remember Khiladiyon ke Khiladi, the 1996 Akshay Kumar and Rekha starrer, wherein Barkha made her debut? And, then there were films like Bhoot, Soch Lo and the recent release Surkhaab. Settled in Mumbai and acting in films and serials, she attained financial freedom pretty early in life. Her achievements defied her age. And, she was among the stars. Yet, for Barkha it didn’t help to see fans queuing up for autographs. She didn’t find contentment in material accomplishments.

Quite aptly, Barkha found her contentment in solitude and showing the path of the Lord to other mortals.

Barkha, now called Gyalten Samten after becoming a Buddhist nun, has chosen a life in shadows.

Visiting her current place of residence at Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre in Hauz Khas while she was arranging the room for the upcoming meditation session, I took a seat in the corner of the room. She handed out to me a print out of “the 37 practices of Bodhisattvas” and started to reveal how she received the guidance of Lord. “When I was 10 my parents took me on a trip to the North East. We visited the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. And, I remember asking my parents to go back and leave me behind.”

That was her first contact with a monastery. Much later in life a Buddhist institution shall become her permanent residence.

But, when you are at a high in life it is difficult to leave everything behind. The higher you are the greater are the stakes. So, amidst all the stardom, when did she realise that Buddhism was her calling? “I started visiting monasteries from 2000. In fact that is the year when I first came into contact with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.” “And, after that I constantly kept visiting a monastery at Dharamshala every year. I used to seek peace and calmness when I visited.

And, over a period of time I realised that I wanted to take up the vows,” says Barkha, who now meditates full time and takes pride in sharing how she renounced worldly desires and how the meaning of her life now is to benefit other people.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2020 7:02:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/journey-into-life-of-barkha-madan-who-became-a-buddhist-nun/article6741931.ece

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