The Flight from Tuting

Sixtieth Anniversary of the Last Leg of the Vidyadhara’s Escape to India

This Douglas C-47 Dakota of the Indian Air Force, shown here flying over the Himalayas, is the type of aircraft which Chogyam Trungpa boarded on January 24, 1960. Image by Grant MacLean.

At mid-morning on January 24, 1960 – nine months and a day since Rinpoche and his small group set out from Drolma Lhakang on their epic escape – he and five of his party climbed into a C-47 aircraft of the Indian Air Force. It would fly them from the town of Tuting over the Himalayan foothills and down to the plains of India.

For Rinpoche the flight was a momentous event and was where, in a short, deeply moving passage, he concluded Born in Tibet.  It was the final letting go of everything he had known, and also the gateway to an ocean of fresh experiences, alluring potential. As the aircraft soared over the Himalayan foothills …

We thought about the teachings of impermanence; this was a complete severance of all that had been Tibet and we were traveling by mechanized transport. As the moments passed, the mountain range was left behind, and the view changed to the misty space of the Indian plains stretching out in front of us. -CTR

Grant MacLean met the Vidyadhara in 1975 and became his student shortly thereafter. A co-author/-translator of the best-selling Shambhala Publications edition of the Art of War, in 2016 he published From Lion’s Jaws: Chögyam Trungpa’s Epic Escape to the West, a retelling of the story of Trungpa Rinpoche’s 1959 escape from Tibet. He lives in St. Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia.