Wednesday November 13, 2019
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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.

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  • 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.

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Tibetan Communities, Like All Faith Communities, Should Be Able to Select, Educate and Venerate Their Religious Leaders Without Government Interference

Earlier this month at the 3rd Special General meeting in Dharamshala, Tibetans from far and wide underscored the right of the Dalai Lama

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Tibetan Communities
Tibetan Communities, Buddhists and all other faith communities should be able to select, educate and venerate their religious leader without government interference. Pixabay

By Vijyender Sharma

Dharamshala—- Hitting back at China for its “meritless” claim that the Dalai Lama’s succession must comply with Chinese laws and regulations, the United States  reiterated that Tibetan communities, like all faith communities, should be able to select, educate, & venerate their religious leaders without government interference.

Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asia, said in a tweeted “The Chinese Communist Party claim that Dalai Lama’s succession “must comply with Chinese laws and regulations” is meritless. Tibetan communities, like all faith communities, should be able to select, educate, & venerate their religious leaders without government interference. AGW”.

She also said Ambassador Sam Brownbacks’ meeting with  Dalai Lama in Dharamsala emphasised the enduring US support for the Tibetan people, and also appr

Tibetan
Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asia, said in a tweeted “The Chinese Communist Party claim that Dalai Lama’s succession “must comply with Chinese laws and regulations” is meritless. Tibetan communities, like all faith communities, should be able to select, educate, & venerate their religious leaders without government interference. AGW”.

Ambassador’s meeting with Dalai Lama in Dharamsala emphasizes enduring U.S. support for the Tibetan people. India has greatly supported Tibetan religious freedom, and the U.S. stands in deep admiration of India’s extraordinary generosity,” she tweeted.

The US Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom, His Excellency Samuel D. Brownback was in Dharamshala last week at the special invitation of Central Tibetan Administration  President Dr Lobsang Sangay. The Ambassador’s presence here at the seat of Central Tibetan Administration gestured the strongest political support for the Tibetan people, particularly for Tibetan religious freedom. 

After more than hour-long meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay, he said the US stance on the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is in accord with the resolutions passed at the third Special General meeting of Tibetan people.

Tibetan
Ambassador Sam Brownbacks’ meeting with  Dalai Lama in Dharamsala emphasised the enduring US support for the Tibetan Communities.

“Earlier this month at the 3rd Special General meeting in Dharamshala, Tibetans from far and wide underscored the right of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders to identify and recognise a successor to His Holiness and rejected Chinese authorities to interfere in this process. Let me be clear! The United States shares that view,” said Ambassador Brownback while officiating the inauguration of the First International Conference on Tibetan Performing Arts at Dharamshala.

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“Tibetan Buddhists and all other faith communities should be able to select, educate and venerate their religious leader without government interference. the selection effects not just Tibetans but for the global Buddhist community. Decision regarding the selection of Tibetan Buddhist leaders rests with the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leaders and people of Tibet. Period!”