News and Views on Tibet

Dalai Lama calls for rejection of materialism at Buddhist gathering in eastern India

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Associated Press Writer

GAYA, India – Amid threats and allegations of spying and sacrilege, the Dalai Lama led Tibetan Buddhists’ highest worship ceremony on Sunday, calling for the rejection of materialism, greed and violence.

“Money breeds greed, jealousy and other social vices. It can never bring joy,” the spiritual leader said as he led some 20,000 Tibetans from across the world in the prayer ceremony called Kalchakra, or Wheel of Time — the biggest annual gathering of Buddhism’s Mahayana sect.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 with thousands of supporters following a failed uprising against China. Since then, he has headed a government-in-exile in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his nonviolent struggle against Chinese rule of his homeland.

The prayer ceremony is held in the eastern Indian city of Gaya, where the religion’s founder is believed to have attained enlightenment.

Hundreds of police and paramilitary troops stood guard because a group of Indian Buddhists, critical of the Dalai Lama, had threatened to disrupt the event.

Police detained at least 11 members and supporters of the All India Monks Association on Saturday. Deputy Inspector General of Police N.C. Dhodhiyal said those detained were holding a hunger strike to push for cancelation of the Jan. 11-20 Kalchakra event.

The association alleged the detentions were made at the behest of the Dalai Lama, who was to be joined for the prayers by the Karmapa — the third-highest lama in Tibetan Buddhism — later this week.

The group has demanded the deportation of the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa, accusing them of receiving about US$100 million in aid annually from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The Dalai Lama’s office has denied the charges.

The Karmapa’s arrival was delayed after the Indian government hesitated over granting him permission to attend. There have been recent allegations that the Dalai Lama’s entourage is riddled with Chinese spies.

Other Buddhist groups had also accused hundreds of thousands of Tibetan pilgrims of leaving a mess at the sacred site, and last year the Karmapa was threatened with legal action for wearing shoes inside the main temple — an act acceptable to Tibetans but sacrilegious to Indians.

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