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Tales for a home: Tibet towards freedom (Part 1)

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By Sagar Sethi

Buddhist_monks_of_Tibet10Almost half a century ago the sea of red consumed the inner peace in Tibet. During this invasion a rally of Buddhist monks were clapping. In October 1949, the forty thousand Chinese soldiers that blurred the lines separating Tibet from their motherland returned the favour with hand-claps of their own. So, these forty thousand marched across the river Yangtze into the eastern province of Tibet expecting some resistance or rebellion but were instead welcomed with an applause. This moment in history is classic! Not for the act of mutual reciprocity but because the gesture of hand-clapping among the Tibetan Buddhists means among other things to “Go away, I resent you.”

Passang
Passang

How does remembering a home you can never go back to feel? Not because you ran away from it but because you were forced to. Passang, a Tibetan refugee currently putting up in Majnu ka Tila, says that “China has not only bitten your borders (India), it has eaten away our lives too.” She came to India when she was only eleven and even after so many years she still feels homesick.

In April 1959 the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, the leader of Tibet, himself escaped from his home and reached Tezpur in Assam, India on 18 April 1959. The Buddhism that spread from India to Tibet returned to India as a religion in exile, forced from its homeland.

Much like in India, religion is the be all and end all for the people of Tibet. In fact every time Tibet is mentioned our minds jump to ‘Buddhism’ in a matter of seconds. But what was there before the arrival of Buddhism in the 7th-8th centuries A.D in Tibet? Before their conversion into Buddhism the people of Tibet were mostly accustomed to barbaric traditions and customs. These barbarians painted their faces red with ochre or vermilion and that’s how they got the name “red faced men.”

Pre-Buddhist barbarianism gradually faded as the influence of Buddhism strengthened. These changes converted the red faced men into more peace loving and civilized people. Their purpose in life shifted to inner peace and wisdom. Interestingly, it was the influence of Buddhism that had made the Indian emperor Ashok the Great change his pro war strategy into a more philanthropic one.

Photo credit: tibetmuseum.org
Photo credit: tibetmuseum.org

 

Then why did the People’s Republic of China send an army of forty thousand to liberate the people of Tibet? The question really is liberate them from what – inner peace? Perhaps they feel no need for soft spoken Tibetan Buddhists in a World that can’t stop talking.

The people of Tibet, isolated off the Himalayas with an identity of their own, were robbed of their home just around the time when we Indians gained ours. Less than a week ago, ‘We the people of India’ celebrated sixty eight years of our unity in diversity. This was witnessed by many Tibetan refugees who still long for their independence, their freedom. Their struggle might not concern our status as an independent nation but Tibet does hope that our motto ‘unity in diversity’ turns into a global ethic.

Since the exodus of Tibetian Buddhists from their homes, a lot has been exchanged between Indians and them. We will discuss the character of this cultural symbiosis and the influence it had on Sino-Indian bilateral relations in the series that follow.

  • Manoj Sethi

    Buddhism is a religion which practices inner peace and Tibetans being Buddhists have not been able to free themselves from the Red brigade of China since they are habitually not aggressive. Unless a good sense of spirituality prevails over the leadership of China, one feels the longing for freedom by Tibetans is a far cry.

    • Sagar Sethi

      Thank you for your suggestion 🙂 I hope there are other ways to bring a change in this scenario since solely relying upon China’s leadership has proved futile for the struggle of Tibetan independence. Perhaps if the issue is stressed upon with greater force and determination by our government in its relations with China.
      Their hopes are pinned on us, and their optimism is commendable.

  • Manoj Sethi

    Buddhism is a religion which practices inner peace and Tibetans being Buddhists have not been able to free themselves from the Red brigade of China since they are habitually not aggressive. Unless a good sense of spirituality prevails over the leadership of China, one feels the longing for freedom by Tibetans is a far cry.

    • Sagar Sethi

      Thank you for your suggestion 🙂 I hope there are other ways to bring a change in this scenario since solely relying upon China’s leadership has proved futile for the struggle of Tibetan independence. Perhaps if the issue is stressed upon with greater force and determination by our government in its relations with China.
      Their hopes are pinned on us, and their optimism is commendable.

Next Story

‘Dalai Lama is a Political Figure under the cloak of Religion, Meeting or Hosting the Dalai Lama is a major offence’ Warns China

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing.

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Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama, Wikimedia

Beijing, October 21, 2017 : As US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to visit India next week, China on Saturday warned that it will be deeply offended if any foreign leader meets with or any country invites the Dalai Lama.

On the sidelines of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a Chinese Minister dubbed the Tibetan spiritual leader as a “political figure under the cloak of religion”.

“Any country or any organisation or anyone accepting to meet with the Dalai Lama in our view is a major offence to the sentiment of the Chinese people,” said Zhang Yijiong, Executive Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

“Also, since they have committed to recognising China as a sole legitimate government representing China, it contravenes their attempt, because it is a serious commitment,” Zhang added.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of stoking unrest and secessionist activities in Tibet from where the spiritual leader fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising.

The Dalai Lama has urged for more autonomy for Tibet.

Beijing opposes any country or leader keeping in touch with the Dalai Lama.

“I want to make it clear that the 14th Dalai Lama, the living Buddha handed down by history is a political figure under the cloak of religion,” said Zhang.

In February this year, Tillerson had told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing that he is committed to promoting dialogue on Tibet and receiving the Dalai Lama.

Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi had visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in May, and sought to draw the world’s attention to human rights in Tibet, triggering protests by China.

China resorts to different tactics if any country hosts the Dalai Lama. For instance, Beijing blocked a major highway leading to Mongolia, crippling the economy there after Ulan Bator hosted the leader late last year.

Mongolia later apologised and promised Beijing never to invite the Dalai Lama.

“Officials, in their capacity as officials, attending all foreign-related activities represent their governments. So I hope governments around the world speak and act with caution and give full consideration to their friendship with China and their respect for China’s sovereignty,” Zhang added.

The comments from the Chinese Minister also comes days after Tillersoon described India as a partner in a strategic relationship and said the US would “never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society”.

According to reports, last month China refused to fund travel for visiting scholars at University of California, San Diego, apparently in retaliation for inviting the Dalai Lama to be its 2017 commencement speaker.

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing. (IANS)

Next Story

Dalai Lama on Three Day Visit to Manipur

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Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama will be in Manipur on Tuesday. ians

Imphal, October 16: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will arrive here on Tuesday on a three-day visit to Manipur, officials said.

This will be his second trip to India’s northeast after his April visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh told IANS on Monday that the government had declared the Dalai Lama a state guest.

“We will extend a warm welcome to him. He will be given all facilities as an honoured guest,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Dalai Lama will be given a public reception at the Convention Centre here. It will be followed by a felicitation programme at the same venue.

The Dalai Lama will interact with members of the public and dignitaries.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since fleeing his homeland in 1959, is coming to Manipur at the invitation of the Speaker of the Manipur Assembly.

His Arunachal Pradesh visit had sparked a diplomatic row between India and China.(IANS)

Next Story

‘Religion’ in India- Types and its Connection to Country’s Civilization

The Ancient religions of India are Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

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Religion
Ancient Religions of India.

India’s economic and political strata in today’s world have reached a great level, but that is still not what the country is known for. The country is known for its diversity and religions because the term ‘religion’ in India is not just a system of belief and worship, but a way of life too. Since ancient times, it has been an integral part of its culture. For the citizens of this country, religion pervades through all the activities of life- from cooking chores to working and politics. The religion we follow plays an important role in our upbringing as well. Our conditioning is done based on the principles of our religion. India is a home to many religions- Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and others.

How old is the Indian civilization?

The Indian civilization is around 4000 years old, with the existing Indian religions growing in that period. The antiquity of the religions in India begins from the Harappan culture. It’s a secular country which respects all kinds of religion and culture, but during the ancient times, when the Human civilization was developing, there were three main religions native to India- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The predominant religion during this period was Hinduism, which is said have originated in the Northern India.

Religion wise Indian Population:

  • HINDUISM – about 82%
  • ISLAM – about 12%
  • CHRISTIANITY – about 2.5%
  • SIKHISM – about 2%
  • BUDDHISM – about 0.7%
  • JAINISM – about 0.5%
  • ZOROASTRIANISM – about 0.01%
  • JUDAISM – about 0.0005%   (stated by adaniel.tripod)

Hinduism

Religion
Brahma                                                                                                                                                          Pixabay

Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Its followers worship several deities. Unlike the other religions, this religion does not have one teacher. Its followers, the ‘Hindus’ believe in a supreme divine spirit called ‘Parama Brahma’. The concept of Parama Brahma states that Brahma is omnipresent.

Hindus believe in vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the whole world is a single family. They also believe in Sarva dharma Sama Bhava, which means all religions are equal. The practice follows the ideas of mercy, charity, compassion, benevolence, non-violence and mercy. It believes the concept of ‘Bhakti’ or devotion.

The sacred writings of Hinduism include the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Upanishads.

Also Read: The history and development of Indian Handicrafts

Jainism

Religion
Lord Mahavira                                                                                                                                                   Pixabay
According to tradition, the founder of Jainism was first Tirthankara Adinatha. However, the religion was widely propagated by the 24th Tirthankara, Mahavira. He was born in Vaishali, Bihar, who belonged to the clan ‘Licchavi’. Mahavira was moved by the sufferings of people, and therefore, left his home at the age of 30 to seek the truth. He supported the teachings of the previous Tirthankaras, and added his own beliefs to the teachings.
He believed in the ideology of leading a good life and not doing any wrong. He did not encourage the practice of needing the help of God for everything.
Doctrines of Jainism:
  1. Ahimsa (Non-violence)
  2. Satya (Truth)
  3. Asteya (Non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (Chastity)
  5. Aparigraha (Non-possession)

Buddhism

Religion
Lord Buddha                                                                                                                                                    Pixabay
Buddhism is a religion which consists of different kinds of beliefs and practices based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. Buddha’s name was Siddhartha. He was the son of the Shakya clan’s leader. It is believed that Siddhartha made three observations, which changed his life:  a feeble old man; a person suffering from disease; and a dead body being taken for cremation. This propelled him in finding the true meaning of life. He left his home at an early age and attained ‘enlightenment’ in Bodhgaya.
He also prescribed the four noble truths and eight fold path.
Four noble truths are:
  • Dukkha (truth of suffering)
  • Samudāya (truth of the suffering’s origin)
  • Nirodha (the truth of suffering’s cessation.)
  • Magga (Direction to eight-fold path)

The eight fold path are- Right aims, Right beliefs, Right conduct, Right speech, Right effort, Right occupation, Right meditation and Right thinking.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at twitter @ImMeghaacharya.