News and Views on Tibet

Dharma versus Politics

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By Tsering Tsomo,
Phayul Reporter

The countdown to the 28th Kalachakra ritual ceremony presently underway in Bodh Gaya started with a barrage of verbal threats and allegations of the lowliest kind, utterly baseless, stupidly brash and downright unimaginable against His Holiness the Dalai Lama by a section of neo-Buddhist monks claiming to be the ‘worthy’ followers of the great B.R. Ambedkar and Buddhism.

The neo-Buddhist monks organized under the banner of Bodh gaya Mahabodhi Vihar All India Action Committee was seen trying real hard to plant all the right conditions and atmosphere for the disruption of the Kalachakra Puja. Printed materials denouncing and accusing the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGIE) are extensively distributed in a bid to incite and fan tempers of the locals. However, in their zeal, anger and haste to take out the vilification campaign against His Holiness, they didn’t quite make a convincing picture. Evidently, the media fraternity had a ball reporting the activities of the neo-Buddhists. For days, the so-called Ambedkarites were tricked into believing that the press took them seriously. Of course, the scandal –starved press lapped it all up. It was sensational and had the makings of a news story that could shock and hurt the sensibilities of so many people in and out of India. Ethics and verifications can go take a walk. The scribes badly needed something fresh and unusual to report on the Dalai Lama; bored as they are in writing column after column on His Holiness talking about peace, spiritualism, Ahimsa and compassion. The neo-Buddhists’ defamation drive was like manna from heaven.

It appeared strange to many that the malicious allegations and threats issued against the Dalai Lama centered heavily on political issues which contradicts the neo-Buddhists’ very identity as followers of a religion that espouses non – violence and austerity. They questioned the existence of His Holiness and the TGIE on Indian soil and termed the activities of His Holiness as a ‘CIA sponsored show’. The shriller the outburst, the more ludicrous and absurd it became with accusations such as His Holiness having pro-China leanings and his ambition to annex Sikkim. No wonder, many found these attacks distasteful, absurd and stretching the freedom to expression much too far. Claude Arpi simply found it ‘too harebrained to be taken seriously’.

The demand to expel the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa from India were, to put it mildly, sad. A bunch of Buddhist monks gunning for two highly respected Buddhist monks at the venue of Mahayana Buddhism’s rarest and most revered religious ritual ceremony. And for what offence? Because the young Karmapa walked with his shoes on into a Temple or the Dalai Lama didn’t speak strongly and angrily against the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan? Evidently, there is more to it than meets the eye. Beneath the layer of publicly issued outburst lies a different grudge that they are unwilling to admit.

These allegations comes close on the heels of death threats against the Dalai Lama by Norggen group, an obscure outfit of Chinese insurgents believed to have links with the Nepal’s Maoist rebels.

At a time when the world is ruled by the hawks, doves are in short supply. The world has never felt the need for peace, non-violence and brotherhood as much as it does now. Much has been written, sung, preached and taught about love and peace. Now is the time to show our humanness; the common concerns and emotions we share as human beings; the thread of humanity that binds us together. The Kalachakra ritual ceremony is a well-intentioned step in this direction. The 1989 Nobel Peace laureate hopes to promote world peace and well being of all sentient beings through a strenuous nine-day ritual in Bodh Gaya, the place where Buddha received enlightenment. A tragic irony though that this very ceremony is held with the venue being turned into a fortress owing to threat perception. Some six hundred police officials of varying ranks from Constable to Superintendent of Police are pressed into action to guard the venue.

As an Indian, the neo-Buddhists ought to be proud of what Tibetans have achieved on Indian soil even after the unforgettable tragedy of 1959 when China ruthlessly murdered and raped Tibet. Today, the Tibetan culture and tradition is thriving in the exile settlements, schools and institutions scattered all over India. Tibet owes its existence as a distinct race, identity, culture, religion, tradition and way of life to Indian government and its people. India saved the demise of a nation when the Indian people welcomed the Tibetans with open arms. Even in exile, India ensured that ‘Tibet’ would live again. After four decades in exile, Tibetan community is looked upon as the best model of refugee rehabilitation and India made this possible.

The undying hope and wish of every Tibetan is to return to a Free Tibet and Tibetans owe India for keeping this hope alive.

Tsering Tsomo can be contacted at

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