Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Son of India

Photo Ireno Guerci
What an incredible destiny for the boy born in Taktser, a small hamlet of Amdo province in north-eastern Tibet. At the age of four, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who ruled over the Roof of the World between 1895 and 1933. For the Tibetans, the living incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion had again returned.
For the past fifty years, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has always shown the greatest consideration for the land which gave him refuge. Recently he explained: “I describe myself as a Son of India, firstly because my thoughts come from the Nalanda Buddhist tradition and this body has lived on Indian dal, rice and chapattis during the last 51 years. So, physically also, I am a Son of India. Sometimes, it irritates the Chinese officials. What to do?”
It indeed deeply upsets the Chinese officials when he says: “All our concepts and way of thinking comes from the Nalanda Masters. Therefore, we are the chelas and Indians are our Gurus. I also often say that we are reliable chelas, because after the 8th century, the Nalanda tradition was established in Tibet. Over thousand years, we have kept intact the Nalanda tradition. It means that we are reliable chelas.”
The Chinese have difficulty to accept that some wisdom could have come from India, even if it is twelve hundred years ago.
Several articles in The People’s Daily and other official publications have questioned his claim to be a ‘son of India’. One of the commentators wrote: “The Dalai Lama pleases his Indian masters not only by showing his willingness to be a ‘son of India’, but also by effacing the originality of the Tibetan culture. The Dalai Lama uses such words to dwarf the rich Tibetan culture with distinctive local characteristics. He could not be more subservient.”
The Dalai Lama’s Indian connection seems to disturb Beijing so much that their arguments even sometimes lose their Cartesianism. They can’t understand how someone can at the same time be a ‘son of India’ and be the representative of the Tibetan culture: “The more absurd thing is that the Dalai Lama often considers himself a ‘son of India’ and India's cultural guru,” wrote a commentator. The Chinese probably believe that only they can be the true spokespersons for Tibetan culture.
Zhang Qingli, the CCP boss in Tibet who accused him to be “a wolf in monk's robes, a monster with a human face but the heart of a beast."
I have the strong feeling that behind these attacks on the Dalai Lama, it is India which is targeted. Beijing has some difficulty to digest the fact the Dalai Lama not only represents the deepest values of Indian culture, but he has also always sided with India in times of difficulty.
The conclusion of the earlier-quoted Chinese article betrays the motivations of the Middle Kingdom’s officials: “Furthermore, will a guy who betrayed southern Tibet to India really care about the well-being of the Tibetan people?” They refer to the Dalai Lama’s support for the Indian stand in the border row with Beijing and his acceptance of the Indian position on the McMahon Line and Arunachal Pradesh (which the Chinese call ‘southern Tibet’).
Strangely, the Party bosses seem nervous: they can only repeat that they will never let their grip loosen on the Land of Snows. Last week, Hao Peng, the Deputy Communist Party Secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region targeted the ‘anti-Chinese’ forces led by the Dalai Lama (‘and his clique’) as the main threat to peace and stability in the region.
Just before the Olympic Games, Tibet Party Chief, Zhang Qingli had been more explicit: "Tibet’s sky will never change and the red flag with five stars will forever flutter high above it …we will certainly be able to totally smash the splittist schemes of the Dalai clique,” he stated.
Hao told visiting journalists: “We have the ability and confidence to maintain stability in Tibet forever, and we will ultimately achieve long-term order and stability,” though he had to admit “what you see in the streets, including the police and other legal forces are necessary measures to maintain stability."
When asked about his position about the unsuccessful talks between Dharamsala and Beijing, Hao said: “The core of this policy is for the Dalai Lama to abandon Tibet independence, stop separatist activities, and acknowledge that Tibet is an inalienable part of China, if he does this then the door to talks is always open."
But the Dalai Lama has long ago renounced to Tibetan independence. In his address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 1988, he explained that a genuine autonomy for Tibet would be acceptable to him. From that day, he dropped his claim for Free Tibet, just pleading for a solution within the Chinese constitutional provisions.
No doubt that Beijing is today in a position of force, the leadership believes that time is on their side; they bet on the fact that the Dalai Lama is not here forever (though he is presently in perfect health).
In Delhi, one often hears comments that India should drop the ‘Dalai Lama card’; that this gesture from India would greatly help in improving India’s relations with China. But nothing is further from the truth, morally and politically.
Morally, India and Tibet are linked by the fact that Tibetan Buddhism has, as mentioned by the Dalai Lama, its origin in the great viharas of North India and the teachings of Gautam Buddha.
Politically, were India to drop the ‘Tibet card’, her stand on the border would be tremendously weakened. If Beijing manages to bend the only other aspirant superpower in Asia, it would have a free hand to dictate more terms to India.
Some 25 years ago in a letter to the Indian government, the Dalai Lama gave 2 reasons why the Communist regime is so keen to destroy all trace of Buddhism in Tibet: “(a) As the source of the Buddha dharma the Tibetan people have a very strong sense of affinity with India. The Chinese claim that the Buddhism which flourished in Tibet is a branch of Chinese Buddhism is ridiculous, (b) Like in Poland, religion has become synonymous with nationalism.”
The Tibetan leader continued: “If the Chinese pursue their true intentions effectively India may one day have across her Himalayan borders a Tibetan population owing full allegiance to the Chinese. This will have serious consequences to India.”
India always believed in justice, peace and non-violence. Ultimately, to support the Dalai Lama in getting a genuine autonomy would be good not only for India and Tibet, but also good for China who helplessly needs deeper values for her society. Thirty years after Deng Xiaoping stated that ‘getting rich is glorious’, the economic differences have never been so large between rich and poor in the Middle Kingdom and the tension never so high between the different ‘minorities’.
The Dalai Lama is perhaps the only person who could help the Chinese leadership to fulfill its dream to build a harmonious society. As for India, the Tibetan leader has blessed the nation by his presence for more than 50 years, India should support his just cause.

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