By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, May 27: The Kashag (Cabinet) led by the President Dr. Lobsang Sangay of the Central Tibetan Administration on Wednesday said that the recent remarks by a Tibetan religious figure, Tulku Orgyen Topgyal over the practice of online empowerments (Tib.Wangh) and blessings by his Holiness the Dalai Lama and other religious leaders are “regrettable” and “wrong”.
The statement comes days after a voice clip of the Tibetan lama was widely circulated on social media platforms and micro-messaging apps, critiquing the foremost Buddhist spiritual figure and other spiritual leaders for their practice of giving religious empowerments and blessings online. The Tibetan lama was heard saying that the practice is degenerating the faith and that it amounts to “destroying the faith”.
Tulku Orgyen Topgyal said that empowerments can only be given when the teacher and student are physically together and not through television screens, adding that it violates tenets of empowerments. His remarks have since drawn condemnation by many in the Tibetan community with some calling for him to offer apology to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The statement by the Kashag on Wednesday stated that the “derogatory remarks” made by the Tulku Orgyen Topgyal is “immensely regrettable and identify them to be wrong”. The statement said that the Dalai Lama has worked tirelessly in resurrecting Buddhism and Tibetan culture over the years resulting in many in the world including devotees from Mainland China express growing interest in Buddhism. The statement further said that giving teachings and empowerments by the Dalai Lama during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is “need of the time”.
Some Tibetan netizens also called for the resignation of cabinet minister for Religion and Culture Yuthok Karma Gelek who in a statement posted on the official page of his department on Tuesday said Tulku Orgyen Topgyal is usually an outspoken personality who speaks his mind and that he believes Tulku’s remarks are without any other intent or background. Yuthok further said that empowerments that are done virtually, cannot be conferred although it is undisputed that blessings are passed to anyone who receives it.
Later the same day, he issued a brief note where he stated that his previous statement was given under the capacity of being the Kalon (Minister) for the Religion and Culture Department and does not represent the Kashag’s stand on the issue, a move that many say is him distancing his statements from that of the Kashag’s.
Tulku Orgyen Topgyal is a former two-time member of the Tibetan parliament in Exile.