(TibetanReview.net, Jan02’23) – A group of high-ranking Sri Lankan Buddhist monks who were on a pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya recently is seeking His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to their country, which is reeling under a severe economic crisis, reported the ANI news agency Dec 31. Such an invitation is, however, not new, and past efforts have been thwarted by China-wary government at Colombo’s lack of willingness to issue him a visa.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of being separatist, although he only seeks genuine or meaningful autonomy for his homeland in keeping with the provisions of China’s constitution.
The report said the Sri Lankan Buddhist leaders met the Dalai Lama at Bodh Gaya on Dec 27 and were overwhelmed by witnessing a large gathering at the holy city.
“His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) came to India and people should know why he came to India; why he settled down in India. India helped His Holiness, and now because of His Holiness, we know thousands of tourists are in Bodh Gaya,” Most Venerable Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Mahanayake Thero, Sri Sambuddha Sasanodaya Sangha Sabha, has said.
“These days, Bodh Gaya is very cold and people usually don’t come, but people are there because of His Holiness. Bodh Gaya is benefitted in many ways. Is Tibet benefitted? We should think about this part also,” he has added.
He was stated to have wished for Dalai Lama to visit Sri Lanka and help to overcome the economic hardships his country has been facing currently.
“I believe, like His Holiness has been to Bodh Gaya. If he goes to Sri Lanka, many thousands of tourists will come to Sri Lanka which will boost the economy because we are in a crisis situation. And, if His Holiness goes to Sri Lanka, many tourists will come here similar to Bodh Gaya. We will be blessed and the economy will also be boosted,” he has said.
Most Ven Makulewe Wimala Mahanayake Thero, Chief Prelate of Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya, was also stated to be overwhelmed to meet the Dalai Lama. He has said, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and we were very happy to meet him there. We have an understanding of spiritual activities. So, Mahasangha from Sri Lanka is happy to see what his Holiness is doing”.
And Ven. Muruddeniya Dhammarathana, Thero of the Asgiri Chapter, has said, “Actually we are very happy, Bodh Gaya is like our motherland because Lord Buddha got enlightenment there …. This is not my first-time visit; I have visited 2-3 times before. Especially yesterday and the day before yesterday there was an important event, we were lucky to meet his holiness Dalai Lama and a lot of Lamas and monks from different parts of the world”.
He has added, “We saw thousands of people there, especially to listen to his holiness Dalai Lama’s speech. We were very happy seeing and listening to his teaching and again we were so lucky to come and worship the holy Bodhi tree. I think this is a very good chance we are here”.
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Some 65,000 people, including 3,000 from 80 countries outside India, attended three days of religious teaching given by the Dalai Lama over Dec 29-31 at Bodh Gaya.
Prominent dignitaries included Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of Bihar, the state in which Bodh Gaya is situated, who visited the Dalai Lama and met with him for about half an hour on Dec 30, discussing with him the importance of ancient Indian wisdom and the value of culture, and Chief Minister Pema Khandu of Arunachal Pradesh who attended his teaching on Dec 31.
Also, on Dec 30, eight representatives—five from Japan and one each from Austria, Israel and the USA—of the project ‘Flame of Hope’ presented a lantern to His Holiness, the flame of which had been lit from the flame of peace in Hiroshima.
‘Flame of Hope’ wishes to change the world by lighting the spark of hope for peace in children’s hearts. Working hand in hand with spiritual leaders and other concerned persons, the project aims to spread this wish around the world. Their slogan is “One Earth—One Prayer—One Flame”.
And before the teaching, the Dalai Lama was reported to have met separately with a group of Buddhists – monastic as well as lay – from Vietnam on Dec 26.
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In a rare direct criticism of China, the Dalai Lama has accused Beijing on Dec 31 of trying to destroy Buddhism, especially in Tibet, referring to recent demolition there of landmark Buddha statues, and added that it won’t succeed.
“We have strong faith in Buddha dharma, when I visit trans-Himalayan regions, I find local people very devoted to dharma and it is the case in Mongolia and in China too though the system (Chinese government) sees dharma as poison and tried to destroy it, but they are not successful,” the hindustantimes.com Jan 1 quoted the Dalai Lama as saying.
“Be it Tibetan or Mongolian or China, there are many Buddhist monasteries in China. I have been to China many times. Many Buddha Viharas exist there even today. People have Buddhism and Buddha in their minds. There is a lot of attachment towards Buddhism. The Chinese have an ancient relationship with Buddhism,” the Dalai Lama has said.