A news item emanating from Lhasa in Tibet is disturbing for the current thaw in Sino-Indian relation. China wants that it will be Beijing that will decide on the successor of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama who lives in exile in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh.
The immediate provocation for Chinese voice on the succession issue of Dalai Lama is failing health of the 84-year-old head of Buddhist spiritual leader. Of late Dalai Lama has not been keeping good health. It is a matter of concern for all the followers of Buddhism world over. He is highly revered not only by the followers of Buddhism but also by others. He enjoys a special status in the world including countries such as the United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan. Dalai Lama was given Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
The present Dalai Lama was crowned when he was little over 4-year-old.
This is not for the first time that China has raised the issue of a successor to Dalai Lama. Way back in 2011, China had raised the same issue saying that it is the Government of China that will appoint the next Dalai Lama and that India has to accept the decision.
According to a Buddhist scholar and writer, Dalai Lamas are ‘manifestations of the bodhisattva of compassion’. All of the Dalai Lamas are thought to be manifestations of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara. The 14 generations of Dalai Lamas, spanning six centuries, are linked through their acts of compassion.
The ultimate goal of Buddhism is to attain ‘Nirvana’- free from the cycle of birth and death. It is identical to ‘Moksha’ in Hinduism where a devout Hindu lives in this world to attain Moksha, liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
According to a Buddhist scholar, “Tibetan Buddhism has developed this idea of the bodhisattva further into identified lineages of rebirths called ‘Tulkus’. Any person, who is believed to be a rebirth of a previous teacher, master, or leader, is considered a Tulku. Tibetan Buddhism has hundreds, if not thousands of such lineages, but the most respected and well-known is the Dalai Lama”.
Normally, extensive search and research are conducted before finding a successor to Dalai Lama. There are certain signs and traits in the child who is born to become Dalai Lama.
As per a published report “In the case of the 13th Dalai Lama, after his death, his body lay facing south. However, after a few days his head had tilted to the east, and a fungus, which was viewed as unusual, appeared on the northeastern side of the shrine containing the body. This was interpreted to mean that the next Dalai Lama could have been born somewhere in the northeastern part of Tibet”.
Dalai Lama has written his memoirs in which he recounts about his early life that he remembered recognising one of the monks in the search party, even though he was dressed as a servant. The search party did not show who they were to the villagers, to prevent any manipulation of the process.
As a little boy, he remembers asking for the rosary beads the monk wore around his neck. These beads were previously owned by the 13th Dalai Lama. After this meeting, the search party came back again to test the young boy with further objects of the previous Dalai Lama. He was able to correctly choose all items including a drum used for rituals and walking stick.
It was in 1959 when the uprising in Tibet failed, Dalai Lama escaped to India. The government first accorded refugee status to Dalai Lama. Later on, he was allowed to establish Government of Tibet in exile at McLeod Ganj in Dharamshala. Today, it’s a great tourist attraction. Buddhists from all over the world visit Dharamshala Monastery of Dalai Lama. It is not clear as yet if Dharamshala Monastery will appoint a successor to 14th Dalai Lama but one thing appears certain that Dharamshala Monastery will not accept any successor to present Dalai Lama appointed by Beijing. Conflict is likely on this issue. India will have to make a tight rope walk as a new Dalai Lama will also get the status of not only Buddhist head but also heading the Government of Tibet in exile.
It is unfortunate that China has raised this issue once again. To its dismay, Washington has rejected the claim of Beijing that China has the right to appoint next Dalai Lama. The state has no role in meddling with religious affairs and that government can’t decide who will head the religious sect of Buddhism, Washington has said.
(The writer is a Member of Rajya Sabha)
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