DALAI [email protected] : PRAYING FOR THE CAUSE

Date: 20 Jul 2015 07:42:05

Since he left his home to gain knowledge at the age of 6 years, his life has been a hard fought struggle for sustaining and defending the cause. As per the Lunar calendar, Tibetans celebrated his 80th birthday at Dharmashala on June 21, 2015, as a tribute to his Never Give Up attitude.  As per the Solar calendar his birthday will be celebrated all over the world on July 6, 2015. As all Indians have always been supportive of the cause and the message of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Organiser recounts the difficult journey of this great Buddhist Monk. 

The life journey of present Dalai Lama, who celebrates his 80th birthday on 6th July, has been quite unique in so many ways. He was only four year old in 1939 when a search party of Tibetan monks from Lhasa arrived in his remote village and identified him as the new reincarnate ruler and supreme religious leader of Tibet. Their tests showed that Lhamo Thondup was the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama who had passed away in 1935 just before this little boy was born in a poor farmer’s family of Taktser in the North-Eastern Amdo province of Tibet. 
Renamed as ‘Tenzin Gyatso’ and enthroned as the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet by his sixth birthday, this little boy of Taktser has today grown into one of the most popular and respected men of present human history. Decorated with almost every best known international award and honour (154 by the last count) including the Nobel Peace Prize, Templeton Award, Magsaysay Award, Congressional Gold Medal of USA and a host of Doctorates from some of the most reputed universities, he attracts a rock star like reception across the world. In countries like the USA, Germany, Australia, Canada, France, Spain, Japan (you just name it) his public lecture tickets are sold out months in advance whereas thousands of his admirers wait outside jam-packed Olympic stadiums just to have a glimpse of him. 
His popularity looks still more phenomenal when Beijing government, his most ardent hater, calls him “a wolf in monk’s garbs” to vent out its helplessness over the thunderous standing ovations he receives in one after other Parliaments across the world. Or when a business tycoon of Rupert Murdoch’s reputation scoffs out personal frustration on his popularity by referring him as “…a political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes…”. But as expected, all such sarcasm and caustic comments from such quarters only add glamour to this robbed statesman’s popularity graphs. It’s different that the Dalai Lama still prefers to call himself ‘a humble monk’.
Not a Comfortable Journey 
But a closer and critical look at the 80 year long journey of this little boy from Taktser would show that it has not been so comfortable that everyone would love to opt for.  Soon after he was enthroned as the supreme religious leader of his country amidst a colourful, musical and noisy ceremony, the six year old Tenzin Gyatso discovered that he had already outlived his childhood. He was now destined to live, grow up and study with much older monks, many of them being much older than his father. His family life too was going to be limited to weekly meetings with his parents and siblings.
It was a theocratic system which gave him as much respect and public following, if not more, as any Pope or a Shankaracharya or an Ayatollah would have ever received in the prime of their times in their respective countries. On attaining adulthood, he was going to wield far more political powers and authority in the national government of Tibet that a monarch like the Queen of England; a President of the USA ; a Prime Minister of India and; a Pakistani dictator—all rolled into one—could have ever enjoyed.
Life in Isolation 
But he had to grow up in a system which neither encouraged (read ‘banned’) relations with the international community of nations; nor allowed any direct exposure to foreign cultures; or permitted any modern educational institution to set foot onto Tibetan land. It was only when two fugitive Austrian prisoners of war landed into Lhasa near the end of second World War that the 12 year old Dalai Lama could take some lessons in English and had some friendly briefing about the modern world from one of them (Heinrich Harrer). In a country where practically no wheel, other than the ‘Mani’ prayer wheel rotated, the young inquisitive Dalai Lama took upon himself the privilege of cannibalising one of the three vintage Dodge cars with the help of an India returned Tibetan driver to drive it within the lawns of his summer palace Norbulingka. These cars were imported by the 13th Dalai Lama on yak backs in unassembled form from India decades ago.
Palace Intreagues 
And, above all, the young Dalai Lama had to be lucky enough to physically survive through a delicate web of palace intrigues which had already seen six of his predecessors dying before celebrating their 30th birthday. Three of them died as minors. The unique Tibetan system of power transfer through reincarnation has helped Tibet enormously in protecting the system from concentration of power in a single family or a group. The tradition of dual appointment of a monk and a nobleman on almost every senior position also helped in keeping the power balance in place. But a two decade long holiday between the death of a Dalai Lama and handing over of the political and administrative powers to his successor also leaves ample space for a perpetual power struggle to seep in among high ranking Lamas, powerful noblemen and a host of regional chieftains.
The Buck Stop Here 
It is no less interesting that while all privileges and powers of the Tibetan system are liberally shared and enjoyed by the religious and lay nobility, it is always the poor Dalai Lama as an individual who is practically left alone to handle the situation when things go wrong. Tibetan people’s deep faith in Dalai Lama’s spiritual powers and wisdom only helps the nobility to abdicate its responsibilities on most delicate moments. 
For example, on a summer day of 1950 when the news of imminent Chinese attack on Tibet arrived Lhasa through a radio telegram from the Governor of Kham, the Regents, ministers and other seniors officials were out on an official picnic. The telegram was left on hold lest the picnic was disturbed. Later, instead of taking a clear stand to handle the national crisis the committee of Regents pushed the 15 year old Dalai Lama to replace the Governor with Ngapo, a known pro-China young official-- simply on the ground that he was suave, could speak Chinese and hence could convince the Chinese not to attack. 
A few months later same year, Ngapo surrendered his garrison and town to the Chinese army without a fight. When Beijing threatened to ‘liberate’ the rest of Tibet too, the Regents called for the services of the ‘Kuten’, the national fortune-teller, who only advised the boy Dalai Lama to take over the political and administrative charge of Tibet. The Regents agreed despite the fact that the Dalai Lama was still a minor and three years too young to take up this responsibility. That explains how a 15 year old boy was left to find his own way to handle one of the most powerful and a rogue enemy. What followed in the coming decade was what even a novice political scientist could have predicted. 
The nobles once again pushed the Dalai Lama to depute Ngapo for a dialogue with Beijing. However, Ngapo simply signed on dotted lines on what China called a “17-Point Agreement” between China and Tibet which made Tibet ‘return’ to the ‘great motherland China’ in 1951. Thanks to the Tibetan leaders’ policy of isolation and insulation, the world community simply watched this Himalayan game as an indifferent spectator. No government offered to intervene. Dalai Lama’s only hope was Chaiman Mao’s assurance through the ‘Agreement’ that China will respect its autonomy and will not disturb its culture and system.
Freedom in Exile 
But by March 1959 the Chinese interference and highhandedness had left no choice with the Dalai Lama but to run for his life to exile in neighbouring India. Going by the report of the International Commission of Jurists, as submitted to the UNO (1959) at least 80,000 Tibetans were massacred by the PLA and an equal number of Tibetans followed their leader as refugees to India. Interestingly, Ngapo stayed back to collaborate with the Chinese and enjoyed all comforts of life in Beijing till his last breath in 2009. It was the freedom in exile in India which offered the refugee Dalai Lama a chance to show his real capabilities as a community leader.
A Guru Dakshina to India 
These institutions also include an impressive chain of replicas of almost every major national monastery and temple that existed in free Tibet of pre-1950 era. There are at least five UGC ranked universities that have come up either on exclusive Tibetan initiative or with active participation of Tibetan scholars. These institutions have taken studies in Tibetology, Buddhist studies and Indology to newer heights in past decades. It is no less achievement of the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetan scholars that over a hundred such major Sanskrit manuscripts which were given up as ‘lost forever’ over past centuries, have been retranslated and revived to their original Sanskrit form in India in recent years from the surviving Tibetan translations that were taken back home by Tibetan scholars at Nalanda University many centuries ago.
From Tibet’s point of view too, yet another outstanding contribution of the present Dalai Lama is his success in unifying and organising the Tibetan refugees into one of the best knit refugee communities of the world. It was on his initiative that the ‘Central Tibetan Administration’ (CTA) was established in Dharamsala soon after he was shifted there. Though no world government has officially recognised the CTA but for all practical purposes it runs like a ‘Government-in-Exile’ through a democratic constitution, an elected Parliament, a cabinet, an autonomous Justice Commission, an Election Commission and competition based civil service. The CTA controls over a dozen ‘Representative Offices’ across the globe which operate like Dalai Lama’s virtual embassies in countries like USA, UK, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Russia and the European Union. 
A Democratic Dalai Lama 
Starting with a democratic constitution in early 1960s Dalai Lama has gradually evolved the CTA from a Dalai Lama lead near theocratic system to a democratic one which runs through a popularly elected ‘Sikyong’ (Prime Minister) and a Parliament. In 2011 he officially transferred his political and administrative powers to the elected representatives through the Prime Minister, the Parliament and the Justice Commission. Through another earlier amendment in the constitution he had already empowered the Parliament to even strip the Dalai Lama of his political powers ‘if’ majority of its elected members feel that he is guilty of dereliction of his political responsibilities.
 Going by his recent statements, the Dalai Lama appears to be thinking seriously of ending the institution of Dalai Lama and be remembered as the ‘last’ Dalai Lama of Tibet. However, frantic and desperate statements from Beijing show that the communist occupiers of Dalai Lama’s Tibet are dead against this idea. They have stopped hiding their eagerness to see the present Dalai Lama passes away so that they could install a puppet in his place to solve their Tibetan headache once for all.

The Baby Reincarnation of Dalai Lama

In the Tibetan system Dalai Lama plays the dual role of supreme spiritual head as well as the temporal ruler of the country. The succession is through reincarnation. In Buddhism it is believed that every sentient being reincarnates and those who reach higher levels of enlightenment or Nirvana or Buddhahood, have the powers to control their reincarnation. Buddhism expects these enlightened souls to keep taking rebirth as human beings to mitigate the sufferings of other sentient beings. 
In Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism these reincarnates are called ‘Tulku’ and are respectfully addressed as ‘Rinpoche’. There are hundreds of Tulkus from various Mahayana sects namely Gelug, Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya. Jonang is the latest addition to this list and the old Tibetan Bon tradition also follows the same practice. In Chinese Buddhism the Tulkus are called ‘Living Buddhas’. Dalai Lama, by tradition belongs to the Gelug sect and is considered as the supreme among all Tulkus. 
Panchen Lama occupies the second place but his authorities are limited only to religion and spiritualism. As a tradition the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama switch the role of Guru of each other’s new incarnate successor. This puts this relationship at a special level. But history has instances when this relationship was strained due to turf wars between their senior managers. In some cases this gave good reasons to some neighbouring Chinese rulers to play one against other. 
Previous Panchen Lama was taken away by Beijing rulers in his childhood and they tried to play him against the present Dalai Lama when China occupied Tibet in 1951. However, the Panchen Lama was made to suffer in a labour camp for over a decade during the Cultural Revolution days. Later when he was rehabilitated, he openly criticised China’s role in Tibet in presence of Deng Xiao Ping the erstwhile governor of Tibet. Strangely, the Panchen Lama died of a ‘heart attack’ within 48 hours of his public speech in Tibet.
It is believed that every Tulku leaves behind some signs which help his followers to locate and identify his next incarnate baby. When 13th Dalai Lama died in 1933 his body was placed in sitting posture on a throne facing south. Next day his face was found turned towards east. Soon after the day he passed away clouds in auspicious shapes like lotus, conch etc. appeared in the eastern sky of Lhasa. Strangely shaped and coloured fungal growth was also noticed on a pillar in the north-west corner of the room a few days later. 
A team of Regents and senior lamas went to the holy lake Lhamoi Latso near capital Lhasa. During his meditation the Regent visualised three Tibetan letters ‘Aa’, ‘Ka’ and ‘Ma’ on the lake’s surface. He also saw the reflection of a beautiful monastery with turquoise and golden roofs in water. There was also a house with a central courtyard and a funny looking guttering on its roof. A path from the house was leading towards the hill.All these points were being recorded by a team of scholars. They also looked into writings of the previous Dalai Lama to find any hints about his rebirth. It is a tradition to wait for a couple of years so that the new incarnate baby grows up.    n

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A strong, popular international Tibet support movement too owes a lot to the personal popularity of the present Dalai Lama. It has been to the credit of this movement across the world that many Parliaments passed resolutions in favour of Tibetan people and may Presidents and Prime Ministers were forced to change their decision of not meeting the visiting Dalai Lama for fear of Chinese government. Before the world saw Beijing Olympic torch becoming the focus of pro-Tibet movement in 2008, money super powers like the World Bank were forced by this movement to stop funding China for its development programs in its western colonies like Tibet, East Turkestan (Xinjiang) and Inner Mongolia.
Is China Taking Over? 
However, with ever increasing economic and political clout of Beijing, things have started changing slowly and decisively in favour of China in recent years. It speaks for China’s increasing diplomatic ‘terror’ among the community of governments that South Africa refused visa to Dalai Lama in September 2014 as he was preparing to participate in the world conference of Nobel Laureates. When the organisers shifted the venue to Rome a few months later, the Pope refused to meet the Dalai Lama lest his negotiations with Beijing suffer any setback. In February 2014 Beijing even forced the Parliament of Spain to rewrite parts of its constitution overnight so that the Supreme Court of Spain could not implement its judgement on two cases which related to human right excesses in Tibet by China. If implemented, this judgement would have forced the Interpol to arrest five senior Chinese leaders who included Hu Jintao,  Li Peng and Jiang Jemin on their next travel to any country. Dalai Lama’s ‘Middle Way Approach’ (MWA) of finding a solution to the Tibetan problem with China met a serious dead end in 2008 after a six year long dialogue collapsed when Beijing rejected his proposal of ‘genuine autonomy’ for Tibet within the Chinese constitutional frame work as a back door attempt towards Tibetan freedom. Now it is being realised that Beijing leaders used this dialogue period for consolidating its clutch over its Tibetan colony by extending Chinese railway line up to Lhasa; settling millions of Han Chinese in Tibet to permanently change its demographic and cultural character and; by developing a vast military and civil infrastructure in Tibet. 
Dalai Lama’s New Dilemma 
No wonder that China’s increasing international power and its control over Tibet has seriously affected the morale of the Tibetan refugee community, who feel left out of the system following Dalai Lama’s decision to give up his political powers to the elected leadership.  They appear keen to sign another agreement that is acceptable to Beijing leaders and which can pave way of Dalai Lama’s and refugees’ ‘respectable’ return to Tibet. The critics of the MWA policy among Tibetan community are afraid that some influential, suave leaders are keen to barter the Dalai Lama with Beijing in exchange of a secure and comfortable future for themselves.
Realising Beijing leaders’ intentions to plant a puppet Dalai Lama after his death, the Dalai Lama has publicly expressed his desire to close the tradition of Dalai Lama institution and leave the Tibetan issue to be settled by the elected leaders and future generations of Tibet. But aggressive announcements from China have already made it clear that the Communist leaders have their own plans about the next Dalai Lama. All this brings an ageing Dalai Lama face to face with a much more aggressive, arrogant and powerful China that is not only bent upon pulling away every platform under his feet, but is also equally keen to take him and his institution of Dalai Lama back as a ‘good Chinese citizen.’
Vijay Kranti (The writer is a senior journalist and a keen observer of Tibet for over four decades)

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A Tribute to Kundun

Sixth July is the official birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama referred to as Kundun by Tibetans. The Mega celebration of the 80th birthday has already begun and continues right across the continents in different forms including offering long life prayers ‘Tenshug’ both by Tibetans and non-Tibetans. The Himalayan Buddhist Culture Association, representing people from different Himalayan regions will offer Tenshug on July 20 in Dharamsala. This year, during one of the Tenshug ceremonies in Dharamsala, Kundun again re-confirmed that he will live another 20 plus years, which is great news for his followers.
On March 16, 2011, Dharamsala, after his morning sermon to Buddhists from Thailand, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma, Kundun granted an hour long interview to Suthichai Yoon and said  "Forty years ago there, I was predicted to live to 113. One Tibetan writing dating back 100 years describes a person in today's world who will live through 113 years. That person is thought to be me because I share his qualities. In my dreams, I am 113 years old. I'm quite sure of my age. You can extend your life. I'll live long enough to see a free Tibet in my lifetime. If I'm still alive then, I'll choose the next Dalai Lama on my own.”
Can Communist Party of China survive another 30-35 years to continue to stop Kundun from visiting China and Tibet?  This is a real challenge to the Communist leadership. China today is considered a middle-income country, and its rapid growth over the decades has pulled hundreds of millions of its citizens out of poverty which also means from Communism to their traditional root, Buddhism.  These days already 80 per cent to 90 per cent of Chinese identify with Buddhism as one of the several faith traditions they observe. Some recent studies indicate that as much as 98 per cent of Chinese consider themselves as Buddhists, but indicate that they also subscribe to several other Chinese spiritual traditions.
Irrespective of whether China wants or not, Kundun will reincarnate and China has to wait. It will be too naive to think that Chinese Communist autocracy will survive the winds of democracy that long.   Nowhere in the world, could Leninist party retain its power after the economy ceased to be state-directed. One of the greatest spectacles that the world will witness, sooner or later,  be when Kundun actually sets foot on the Chinese soil and meets one billion (1,70,893,447) Buddhists in China including 6 million Tibetans. This then will be the real greatest show on earth, the "Brilliant Civilization" and "Glorious Era" a slogan, used during the 2008 Beijing Olympic celebration. Buddhist philosophy of impermanence is an eternal truth and cannot be wished away however powerful one may be. Who would have thought, 30 years ago, that we'd only be talking about five states that have any official adherence to communism? Who would have thought, 30 years ago, that China will take trade and commerce to the world outside and not Marxism? ...it's all happened so very, very quickly.
While mentioning achievement of Kundun, we often take things for guaranteed and forget to mention some contribution that actually changed the course of history. They are many but one of the greatest achievements of Kundun, I believe,  is the unifying factor, practically implementing the great Indian philosophy Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the whole world is one family, sharing and loving, which he coined, is ‘universal responsibility.’
Hinduism and Buddhism
The visit to Kumbh Mela by Kundun in 2001  in a way was the beginning of coming together of the India’s two great indigenous spiritual traditions so that both Buddhism and Hinduism can flourish side by side in the land of its birth. In fact during the Kumbh Mela, according to sources, for the first time in the history of Hinduism three Shankaracharyas met physically for they all came to see Kundun. Following that visit, there are regular interactions in private and publicly, sharing the platform with many respected Hindu spiritual leaders. Never before, in the history of Buddhism such gatherings happened.
Science and Buddhism
Bringing out Nalanda tradition of Buddhism from the cocoons of the four walls of the Tibetan monasteries and initiating a dialogue with cognitive scientists of the west in 1987, was a major challenge especially when religion itself then was branded by some westerner as unscientific and by communists as poison.  While both the wisdom of Buddha and science aspire to understand the true reality of nature, the former believes in training of mind and the later believes in providing mankind with material comfort. After 28 years of constant engagement and discussions with physicists, psychologists, brain scientists and clinicians, and philosophers, today Buddhism is getting accepted, the world over, as the way of life of intelligent people in the third millennium. Today both Buddhist and scientist believe that their knowledge is necessary for the wellbeing of human being.  Kundun brought them together.
Kundun will soon set a new world record in the Guinness world book for highest number of awards/honors received by an individual in his life time, if he has not already set so. His influence transcends all geographical borders and is today the true messenger of Buddha, a living Buddha, a ‘Yug Purush’ of this millennium.
Jamyang Dorjee (The writer is a former senior civil servant of the Govt of Sikkim and Regional coordinator of the Conservancy for Trans Himalayan Arts and Culture (CTAC))

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Indian Leaders shower wishes on His Holiness

In the mega event organised by the Central Tibetan Administration led by Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay to mark His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birth anniversary to honour his remarkable achievements and contribution, Indian leaders showered their wishes on the His Holiness on behalf of all Indians. The celebration was attended by thousands of Tibetans, foreign devotees and Indian supporters organised in the courtyard of the main Tibetan temple (Tsuglakhang) at Dharmashala.
The top Indian leaders included Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of State for Culture, Tourism; Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs; Smt Viplove Thakur, MP from Himachal Pradesh; Shri Nabam Tuki, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Pema Khandu, Tourism Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, among others. Mahesh Sharma said, “I came here with the best wishes and prayers of 125 crore Indians. We pray before God today for your long life and to give you more strength, to give you health, to give you courage, to show the path of life and the path of wisdom to the world and to humanity.” 
Shri Kiren Rijiju said: “The bond shared by Tibet and India is centuries old. The people living on the two opposite sides of Kailash Mansarover have traveled through time together. This time tested relationship is based on culture, mutual trust and affection. Hence, this historic relationship shared by these two people can never be set apart.”
The celebration was towards world peace in general and the Tibetan cause in particular.   

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Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay’s Statement

On behalf of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, happy 80th birthday to Your Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. Thank you for your leadership and for your lifelong commitment to your contribution to human happiness and promotion of universal responsibility, to foster religious harmony worldwide and to safeguard Tibet’s culture and environment.
Your Holiness, you have authored over 100 books and travelled to over 60 countries. You have received the Nobel Peace Prize and over 150 international awards for having inspired the world through wisdom and compassion.Nobel laureates call Your Holiness as the super laureate. But lesser known are your other contributions. Your Holiness, you are a true democrat. Deeply loved and respected by your people, you have empowered us with democracy and hope. You are an environmentalist who speaks on global warming, climate change and Tibet as the third pole, which is a major source of rivers in Asia. You are an advocate of equality and justice who speaks strongly against the growing gap between rich and the poor.
Your Holiness, you call yourself a simple Buddhist monk. But for people around the world, you are the beacon of hope and light to all the people. For Buddhists, you are the human manifestation of the Boddisattva of compassion. And above all, for Tibetans, you are the life and soul of Tibet.
Your Holiness, may you live many many more years and continue to shine as the luminous daylight. On behalf of the Tibetan people, Buddhists all over the world, and millions touched by your message of peace, happy birthday, Your Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. 
(Courtesy: www.tibet.net)

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