“Indians Ought to Take Pride in Their Buddhist Heritage” says Tibetan Legal Scholar and Politician Lobsang Sangay

Tibetan Buddhism across the Himalayas is intangible and therefore indestructible but so is the Indian Buddhism. It's about time we start taking pride in our Buddhist roots.

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Prayer Wheels in Buddhism
Buddhism in India. Pixabay

New Delhi, July 31, 2017: Tibet is the autonomous region of the Republic of China and due to the Sino-Indian standoff, Tibet is at the heart of political differences between these regions. However, the interview talked majorly about the cultural exchanges between India and Tibet. Upon being asked whether Momo is a Tibetian delicacy or not, Sikyong immediately certified with affirmation, as the term itself suggests meat filled dumpling in Tibet.

“Indeed, the origin of Buddhism and the provenance of the momo can be seen as two immutable truths that bind Tibet and India together forever. Others can claim them and offer seemingly convincing arguments but we know better. Buddhism, taken to Tibet from India from the 7th century onwards–most importantly by monks from the ancient Nalanda university–is now an inextricable part of the Tibetan people. And momos have become as intrinsic a part of India ever since Tibetans and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled Chinese occupation to seek refuge, appropriately, in the land of Buddha’s birth.” Lobsang Sangay said.

“It may be also germane to remember that at its peak from the 7th to the 9th centuries, the Tibetan Empire was bigger than the Chinese one and extended as far south as Bengal and north to Turkmenistan, Mongolia, and Siberia. Maybe momos traveled along with Tibetan Buddhism to those areas, both morphed into local variants and then journeyed beyond.” He further added.

It was a remarkable revelation that Buddhism culture is more widespread than one would think, fourteen countries being a Buddhist majority, while the total number of Buddhists around the world account for a total of 500 million people who are spread across 52 countries in total. Buddhism is said to have its roots in India, while it’s celebrated around the world and enjoys immense popularity we Indians are yet to embrace the fact that Buddhism, in fact, is an integral part of our culture and to protect the culture is our responsibility.

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Not only Tibetian but ancient Buddhist scriptures and commentaries by Indian scholars constitute an inconvertible link between India and Buddhists across Asia. Tibetian scholarly works are majorly based on and influenced by the references in the Indian scriptures, hundreds of books are written and preserved in Tibetian monasteries.

According to Sikyong, Buddhism in Indian origin is not emphasized enough and the links are blinded by the strong Asian narratives compounded by their inexplicable official resistance.

What could be more indicative of this indifference than the lament of a former Sri Lankan envoy to India that precious relics of the Buddha languish in closed quarters at the Indian Museum in Calcutta. We Indians must take pride in our Buddhist heritage too and build on the myriad cultural and emotional links with other nations that it offers, as the benefits are obvious.

Based on the blog Silk Stalkings in Economic Times.

Prepared by Nivedita Motwani. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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