By Tenzin Dharpo
Members of the audience from Mongolia among the 30,000 attending His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 14, 2018. Photo by Lobsang Tsering/OHHDL
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 15: Out of the 30,000 devotees attending the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings that began on Sunday at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, over 3300 were reported to be foreigners.
Constituting the bulk of it were Mongolians, Taiwanese apart from foreigners from 70 other countries in attendance at the three-day teaching on Nagarjuna’s ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’. The teachings were translated via FM channels into into English, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, French, Spanish and Romanian.
The Tibetan leader addressing the diverse congregation said, “If there are people who wonder what the Dharma is about, there is no restriction, we have nothing to hide, and everyone is welcome. It’s something we’ve been familiar with for more than a thousand years.
“Chinese are traditionally Buddhist. The wisdom celebrated here isn’t just any knowledge, but the wisdom realizing selflessness. After the ravages of the cultural revolution the Buddhist population in China is growing again,” the Dalai lama was reported saying yesterday.
Also addressing the Mongolian devotees, the Dalai Lama said, “This time there are many Mongolians among the faithful monastics and lay-people who’ve come to hear the teaching of the Buddha.
“In Mongolia too there have been three phases of Buddhism. At the beginning it travelled up the Silk Road and through Mongolia. Then there was the era when Mongolians had relations with the Sakyas and finally the Third Dalai Lama engaged with them. In return they gave him the name Dalai Bakshi. Buddhism mostly spread into Mongolia from Tibet.”
The diversity of the congregation at the holiest site of the Buddhists at Bodh Gaya may indicate growing number of Buddhists around the globe with China alone, according to Pew Research Center, which surveys religious belief worldwide, there are some 245 million Buddhists in China, “around 18% of the total national population. Another 21% of Chinese adhere to folk religions that often incorporate Buddhist beliefs.”
The same research centre also projected an increase in number of Buddhists between 2010 and 2030, rising from 488 million to about 511 million. However, also projecting the global Buddhist population to decline after 2030, falling to 486 million by 2050.