News and Views on Tibet

Buddhist monks threaten immolation

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By Anand Mohan Sahay

A group of Indian Buddhist monks have threatened to immolate themselves at Bodh Gaya in Bihar if the Dalai Lama does not mediate with them on their demands and not to hold his Kalchakra prayer on Sunday.

All India Monks Association general secretary Bhadant Anand told on Friday that they have set a deadline of 24 hours for the Dalai Lama to initiate a dialogue.

The Kalchakra prayer starts on Sunday and continues for nine days. It is considered the most sacred rituals of Tibetan Buddhist. Nearly 500,000 Buddhist devotees are likely to attend prayers to be led by the Dalai Lama.

The monks are demanding the immediate expulsion of the Dalai Lama and the 17th Karmapa from India, ban on entry into the Mahabodhi temple premises with footwear, postponement of the Kalchakra puja, and amendment of the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee Act 1949, which they termed as a ‘black’ law for Buddhists.

Anand said that in the last four days, persons close to the Dalai Lama and officials [in exile] of the Tibetan government, had approached him with the assurance that the Dalai Lama’s representatives would start a dialogue with them as their demand were genuine.

But they later went back on their word. “It seems that they are playing politics with us by giving confusing signals,” Anand said.

Last month Anand and others had demanded President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to deport the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa for their ‘questionable acts and pretensions’, which has caused avoidable tension between India and China.

Anand claims that two years ago the Karmapa had hurt the sentiments of millions of Buddhists across the world by entering the Mahabodhi temple — which stands near the spot where Buddha attained enlightenment 2,500 years ago — with his shoes on.

Anand said when the Taliban was destroying massive stone images of the Buddha in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan region, neither the Dalai Lama nor the Karmapa had protested despite the fact that the international community had in one voice appealed to the militia not to damage the statues.

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