News and Views on Tibet

Dalai Lama meets Muslim community in Zanskar

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his meeting with Muslim community in Zanskar, Ladakh on Saturday (Photo/OHHDL)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Aug 16: The exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Saturday visited the Eid Gah in Padum at the invitation of the Muslim community in Zanskar, Ladakh. The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism greeted the members of the congregation and said, “As a Buddhist monk, wherever I go, I encourage people to cultivate inter-religious harmony. All religious traditions counsel their followers to develop love and compassion and work for the benefit of others. Therefore, whenever I can, I visit different places of worship, just as I have come to this Eid Gah this morning”.

One of the recurring topics that the octogenarian leader raised during his public engagements in Ladakh was the promotion of religious harmony which is one of his key commitments. During the meeting, he expressed delight in knowing that both the Buddhist and Muslim communities lived in harmony, “I am pleased to see that here in Zanskar, Muslim and Buddhist communities live in close harmony with each other, for which I would again like to thank our Muslim brothers and sisters today. Harmony in the Himalayan region as a whole is important because of the close relations the region has had with Tibet, where a profound Buddhist culture derived from the historic Nalanda Tradition that we are striving to keep alive.”

However, the Dalai Lama expressed sadness over the ongoing conflict between different religions around the world, as well as the conflict among different sects of a religion, “While it is sad to see conflict breaking out between followers of different religious traditions, it’s even more saddening to witness quarrelling among members of different denominations of the same faith, as we see between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Afghanistan.” He further told the crowd that although religious traditions may have different philosophical views, all religions ask their followers to be kind-hearted.

The Nobel laureate also noted that Zanskar has seen development in the past few years, “Over the years, there has been steady material development throughout India, and I’ve noticed Zanskar has become more prosperous too.” However, he added that lasting happiness could only be found through peace of mind, and concerted efforts to be compassionate to each other.

The Dalai Lama recounted his relations with the Muslim community in independent Tibet’s capital Lhasa, who he said attended most of the festivals conducted by the Tibetan government as a “mark of respect”. “I was born in north-eastern Tibet, where there was also a substantial Muslim community, so I have been familiar with Muslims since my childhood. Indeed, the local Muslim warlord, Ma Bufang, took a special interest in me and even before the Tibetan Government in Lhasa announced that I was the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, he made it known that that was his own judgment,” he further said.

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