by Upul Joseph Fernando
When Sri Lanka (SL) is gearing up to commemorate the Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi to mark the 2600th year following the enlightenment of Lord Buddha, the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama popularly recognized as the ‘ living Buddha’ has decided to go on retirement on the 10th of March 2011. Nevertheless , Jiang Yu , the spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, regarding Dalai Lama ‘s retirement had declared thus : ‘Dalai Lama has often talked about retirement in the past few years. I think these are his tricks to deceive the international community’
14th Dalai Lama
But close observers of the Tibetan scene point out that there is no suddenness in the Dalai Lama’s decision. “He has been speaking of the need to pass on the baton to a younger leader citing among other things his age.
Nevertheless, the timing of the ‘resignation’ is significant. It coincided with the anniversary of the ‘uprising’ in Tibet in 1959. Four days from today, Tibetan Parliament –in-exile would begin its 11th session.
The 75-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner would like to see the ‘free election’ of his successor at the parliament session.
On its part, the Chinese government has been saying all along that it has to approve all reincarnations of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism. China wants to sign off on the choosing of the next Dalai Lama.
In 1995, after the Dalai Lama named a boy in Tibet as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama, Beijing put that boy under house arrest and installed another in his place.
Many Tibetans at home and exile have spurned the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama as a fake.
But will that experience stop China from naming its own successor, to the 14th Dalai Lama?. If it does, it raises the possibility of there being two Dalai Lamas -- one recognized by China and the other chosen by exiles or with the blessing of the current Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Buddhism has a history of more than 1,000 years, and the reincarnation institutions of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama have been carried on for several hundred years.
But the ethnic Tibetan Leaders were a little more circumspect . The Chairman of the standing Committee of Tibet’s autonomous region’s people’s Congress commented that he could not deny that the Dalai Lama ,as living Buddha and religious leader did have some influence on his believers , and his death would have some minor impact on Tibet. The Chairman of the Tibet autonomous regional Government told the ‘China Daily’that the reincarnation of the Institutions of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama have been carried on for several hundred years ; these historical Institutions and religious rituals of Tibetan Buddhism must be respected , and it was not up to anyone to abolish the reincarnate Institutions. It must be said that both the ethnic Tibetan Leaders , though sworn to protect the party , and the Govt. allowed a glimpse into their inner thinking , they made it clear that while they were committed to perform their official duties , they do not condone insult of the Dalai Lama and do not contribute to the Chinese Government’s policy of appointing their own living Buddhas , especially the Dalai lamas and Panchen Lamas.
The question at issue is what stance SL as a Buddhist country going to take on this matter. SL is not only a Buddhist country but has also professedly championed the cause of Buddhism standing sentinel over the Buddhist tenets before the international community. When the Buddha statues were destroyed in Afghanistan , it was SL which raised a huge hue and cry against it for the whole world to hear. Moreover , when the Buddha statues and symbols were being treated derogatorily or insolently in European Hotels and Social clubs , it was SL which protested most vociferously to attract the attention of the world. The present SL Govt. went even as far as to refuse visa to the world famous super singing star Akon to perform in SL on the ground that he offended the religious susceptibilities of the SL Buddhists . The foreign media reported that , ‘the ban comes after protests over one of the Star’s music video featuring scantily clad women dancing in front of a statue of the Buddha’.
But curiously enough, the SL Govt. has however no motive to stand by Dalai Lama the well known ‘living Buddha’ of Tibet. Neither is the SL Govt. showing any interest pertaining to the ‘reincarnation’ of Lamas in Tibet. The SL Govt. which is most vociferous on behalf of the number one murderous leader, Gaddafi who is conducting aerial bomb raids on his people , is however uncaring about campaigning on behalf of Tibetan ‘living Buddha’. At least the SL Govt. can take steps to tell the Chinese Govt. to respect the Tibetan Buddhism and the ‘reincarnation’ of the Institutions. Sadly, the Govt. has not taken any measures in that direction.In SL’s struggle for independence, Tibet and its people had a close relationship. Ven. S. Mahinda Thero, a Tibet national was a prelate who went to jail on account of the SL’s independence struggle. It was Ven. Mahinda’s Buddhist ‘kavi’ (poem) titled ‘Freedom mantraya,’ written by him which provoked the national feelings and incited the Sinhalese to resist the British colonial rule domination of the Sinhalese in the country who were then treated like slaves.
Today, ironically ,Tibetan National Ven. Mahinda Thero who faced imprisonment because he contributed to SL’s struggle for independence is being commemorated by SL , while at the same time bartering away the Tibetan people’s freedom ,
Buddhism and true Buddhist spirits.
Courtesy: Daily Mirror