The Dalai Lama must return to Lhasa – M. D. Nalapat

Roof of the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa

Pilgrims prostrating before the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa

Prof M.D. Nalapat

As Official India notes, Tibet has indeed become a part of China, and it is fantasy to believe that this could be reversed by the activities of numerous groups working for a restoration of conditions in Tibet to what they were before the 1950s. – Prof M. D. Nalapat 

LHASA: The capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region looks, at first glance, similar to so many other cities in China. As the train from Beijing halts at a modern terminus, the space around the station is filled with skyscrapers, with more being built. But closer to the city centre, more and more of those walking on the totally “swachh” pavements are holding prayer wheels, while others clutch prayer rosaries. There is a large Muslim presence in Lhasa, even a mosque catering to the half-million inhabitants of this largest of Tibetan cities. More and more Chinese are turning to religion, with Buddhism in the lead together with other traditional faiths such as Daoism, while those drawn to the western world are in significant numbers embracing different versions of the Christian faith. And in Lhasa this adherence to faith is openly demonstrated, with many chanting in soft tones and very often, devotional music issuing from within storefronts rather than the jazz and other raucous tunes favoured by so many shopping malls in India. The Communist Party of China (CCP) has wisely been making its peace with matters of faith, and Buddhism in particular, thereby not standing in the way of the desire of several of the PRC’s people to turn to the spiritual, of course almost always in tandem with the material.

14th Dalai Lama Tenzin GyatsoThe centre point of Lhasa is not the imposing town hall as it is the Potala Palace, a red and white structure that has in its different avatars lasted a millennium. Atop a mountain in a city already more than three thousand metres above sea level, it is impossible to ignore what was constructed as the abode of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet, and which has now become a museum to all of them except one, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet, who in 1959 took the decision to change his place of stay from Lhasa to Dharamshala in India. Although there are no visible signs left of him ever having been anywhere in Tibet, yet it is clear from the number of Tibetans who speak Hindi that there are more than a few who cross over to India for a glimpse of the Monk in Exile and return back home. In the St Regis hotel, which is so western that room service, when asked by a guest could not serve Chinese red wine (it was not in stock), but only a French version of the drink.

However, many of the waiters speak Hindi perfectly and are delighted to serve guests from India. There has been a huge geopolitical price that has been paid as a consequence of Jawaharlal Nehru’s decision to give asylum to the present Dalai Lama, but the plus side includes the goodwill towards our country of several Tibetans.

PM of Tibet Lobsang SangayAlthough successive governments in India have recognised Tibet as an integral part of China, they have also allowed not just His Holiness the Dalai Lama to settle down in India but also a “Government in Exile”, including a “Prime Minister”. This does not seem to have gone down particularly well in Beijing, and perhaps a city in the US or within the EU would be a more natural home for such a construct, given the more encouraging approach of such locations to the stated objectives of this “government”. Over the more than five decades since HHDL’s change of address, much has taken place in Tibet, but it would be difficult to argue that any of the changes that have been made are due to the wishes of either himself or his entourage. Certainly HHDL has made more than a few friends globally with his wisdom and his charm, but the positive impact of this on the people he left behind has been minimal.

This columnist admires the present Dalai Lama as a spiritual master of epic proportions, but regards those who claim that his continued exile serves the Tibetan cause better than would his presence in Lhasa as mistaken in the extreme.

As Official India notes, Tibet has indeed become a part of China, and it is fantasy to believe that this could be reversed by the activities of numerous groups working for a restoration of conditions in Tibet to what they were before the 1950s.

The strength of the Tibetan people is the influence of their Buddhist faith, and were HHDL to return to Lhasa, perhaps even to the Potala Palace, which is now open to all in contrast to the centuries when only a few had ingress, not only the people in Tibet but across China would very soon feel the pull of the great faith of which HHDL is the most potent symbol. Having the Dalai Lama in their midst will do more for the Tibetan people than any number of Hollywood or Bollywood admirers and honours from different countries that have as little effect as the baubles purchasable in a bazaar. It is time for His Holiness to return home. – Sunday Guardian, 4 June 2016

Potala Palace

3 Responses

  1. Recently visited Lhasa, Tibet en-route to Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY). Tibetans are caged people, not allowed to apply for passports, hence can only visit China and discrimination is rampant. Right from the airport the tourist bus is loaded with LED Cameras, one is constantly under surveillance. There are several Police/Army checkpoints which on arrival give the tourist bus a specific time to reach the next checkpoint, I guess this is to avoid interaction with locals in between, speed is 30km/h.

    China is exploiting Tibet rich in mineral resources, which Tibetans did not due to religious beliefs. While on the other hand investing in infrastructure in Tibet, Lhasa city is all jazzed up, good roads flashy cars, malls, cellphones towers available even on the remotest hills. They have even built concrete roads for small hamlets few metres away from the Highway. The idea seems to drown the Tibetan in all this luxury and a few generations later they wont recall whose Dalai Lama, like China’s own don’t recall Tiananmen Square uprising.

    Anyhow am blessed to have had Kailash Mansarovar darshan.
    Aum Namah Shivaye!


  2. Nalapat is a revered journalist thinker and political commentator . Dalai Lama has made India his home and the chocse to leave IR stay is his own” Athithi Devi Bhava” China is a big bad bully. We are no match for China even if our revered Dalai Lama returns the Chinese aren’t going to roma nce us.
    They will use the hyena like Pakistan to torment us.
    The Chinese have not been subjected to Islamic perversity and barbarism.
    Unthinkingly they are courting the Muslims.
    The Dalai Lama is a celebrated word figure Perhaps Canada or Australia may be far more ideal than bullied and disgraced India for the Holy man to spend his time in peace


  3. Dalai Lama

    Tibet is lost to the Chinese, not least because of Nehru’s wrong thinking and accommodation of Chinese aggression. But the office of the Dalai Lama must be saved from a Chinese take-over. They already have an indoctrinated tulku waiting in the wings, to be declared the ‘true’ Dalai Lama when the current one dies.

    The current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso must see to it that a successor Dalai Lama is named and recognised before he dies. This is an imperative, to save the office of the Dalai Lama from the Chinese.

    The system of searching out a new Dalai Lama after the old one dies no longer serves the interest of Dharma and the Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama has already stated that the system can be changed and that circumstances may demand that the Hindu system of naming a successor while the guru is alive can be followed in choosing a new Dalai Lama.

    The Dalai Lama must know what he has to do for his people!


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