His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his visit to the Russian republic of Kalmykia in 2004. (Photo/AFP)
DHARAMSHALA, December 24: Coinciding with the visit of Russian President Vladmir Putin to India, a group of Russian Buddhists who are currently in New Delhi, attending teachings of the Dalai Lama, plan to send him an open letter appealing for the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit to their country.
President Putin arrived in India Monday for a bilateral summit during which major defence deals are expected to be signed. He will also be having parleys with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee, and Sonia Gandhi, chairman of India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance, amongst others.
Telo Tulku Rinpoche, a Russian reincarnate lama, who is the president of Buddhist Union of Kalmykia in Russia said that through their open petition, they want to attract Putin's attention to an urgent need of visa to the Dalai Lama, despite China's reservations.
Around 1,300 Russians are attending teachings by the Dalai Lama on Shantideva’s “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” in the Indian capital. The four-day teachings, which began today, were requested by a group from Russia for the fourth consecutive year.
Speaking to rediff.com, Telo Tulku said that they are collecting signatures for the open letter questioning why their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is not able to visit their country.
“You should not be feeling threatened, China should not be feeling threatened as well. And these are the signatures of people who want to see His Holiness in Russia. And His Holiness's message of peace can be of benefit to Russia. Because even within Russia, there are acts of terrorism, acts of extremism, also within Russia there is a imbalance," Telo Tulku said citing the letter.
Russia has a growing number of Buddhist population, mostly in its republics of Buryatia, Kalmykia and Tuva. The Dalai Lama last visited Kalmykia in 2004, following which Moscow has denied visas saying that a “visit by the Dalai Lama to Russia would be taken particularly painfully by Beijing.”
In August this year, President Putin, while responding to a question at an annual youth gathering in Tver region had said his government will “work in the direction” of inviting the Dalai Lama.
President Putin had acknowledged the wishes of the people of Russia's predominantly Buddhist region of Kalmykia on the Caspian Sea of inviting the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
"Of course we understand the people of Kalmykia who are awaiting the Dalai Lama's arrival," Putin said. "We will work in this direction." Live webcast
of the ongoing teachings in New Delhi are available in English, Russian, Mongolian, and Chinese languages from 9:30 am (IST).