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Friday, February 3, 2023

Ageing Dalai Lama attracts enormous crowds to Buddhist sacred website

The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s religious chief, lately concluded a three-day talking engagement at Bodhgaya, referred to as the ‘land of enlightenment’ that has attracted over 100,000 primarily Tibetans from the world over.

The large response stunned the organisers, because the occasion coincided with the Indian media speaking a couple of new wave of Covid sweeping the nation.

Covid was removed from the thoughts of pilgrims and devotees – despite the fact that many wore face masks as requested by the native authorities authorities.

In accordance with police estimates, about 100,000 folks converged at a big open subject subsequent to the sacred Mahabodhi Temple, the place the ‘Bo’ tree beneath which Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment is positioned.

Tibetan author and activist Tenzin Tsundue, who has lived in Dharamsala, the house of the Dalai Lama, for the previous 4 many years, adopted him to Bodhgaya. He thinks the primary cause for the big crowds is that “Covid has suppressed folks’s aspirations”, and this is a chance to get again to religious and household bonding.

“Not everyone can go to Dharmsala. However this house attracts you since you not solely get to see the Dalai Lama and get his blessing; there’s additionally the Bodhgaya temple. And it’s surrounded by so many pilgrimage websites,” he mentioned.

Earlier than the coronavirus pandemic, about half 1,000,000 pilgrims have been visiting Bodhgaya to pay homage to the scared Bo’ tree that gave shelter for the Buddha to achieve enlightenment. The Mahabodhi temple was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Website in 2002, and it’s the most sacred website of pilgrimage for Buddhists from the world over, just like the Vatican is for Catholics or Mecca is for Muslims.

Across the Mahabodhi temple advanced are many temples depicting the varied tradition and structure of Buddhist nations and communities, resembling these from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bhutan, Mongolia, China, Tibet, Nepal, Japan and Laos. With out a native Buddhist group in Bodhgaya (many of the inhabitants listed below are Hindus and Muslims), the monasteries listed below are depending on overseas pilgrims for his or her maintenance.

The Dalai Lama’s go to has offered a much-needed fillip to pilgrim tourism right here. Many of the monasteries have been closed to guests for nearly two years, Nangzey Dorjee, secretary of the Bodhgaya Temple Administration Committee (BTMC), mentioned.

The Bihar authorities constituted a committee to step in to assist the monasteries. “Major supply of earnings (for monasteries) is a donation. Donation from the devotees this was their sole upkeep earnings. Aside from every now and then, there isn’t a provision of funding from the federal government facet,” he mentioned.

“All temples perform on the idea of the devotees’ choices (so) there have been lethal issues (and as well as) native folks had no work. All different temples rely upon this temple,” added Dorjee.

The massive variety of pilgrims visiting right here doesn’t imply the native temples get most of their donations. There are additionally rows of donation cubicles for monasteries and different Tibetan Buddhist establishments throughout India, Nepal, Bhutan, lining up the road reverse Mahabodhi Temple.

“Every time there’s any prayer gathering like this, donations are pure as a result of folks assume this can be a solution to contribute from their hard-earned cash, to contribute in the direction of monasteries the place younger kids who examine Buddhism are being nurtured. So, you see, it is at all times a beneficiant effort by folks to contribute to Buddhist schooling and nurturing of younger monks,” defined Tsundue.

Folks have been giving generously at lots of the stalls, with volunteers issuing receipts for every donation. “Each household would ensure that they break up 1000 or 10,000 or one lakh rupees into small adjustments,” Tsundue mentioned.

Therefore, native distributors have been doing brisk enterprise promoting bundles of 10-, -20-, or -50-rupee notes to devotees in alternate for these of bigger denominations. This enabled pilgrims to make even smaller donations.

Constructed across the monasteries is a typical pilgrim tourism city with a whole lot of motels, cafes, souvenirs and different outlets, heaps of road distributors and an enormous variety of beggars who’re interested in Bodhgaya due to the compassionate mindset of the pilgrims visiting right here.

Memento store proprietor Lolu, who was doing brisk enterprise, mentioned, “in the course of the pandemic, my store was closed (and) I even did not manage to pay for to eat”, and added with a smile “Dalai Lama has introduced good karma for me”.

“Dalai Lama has been coming right here typically (earlier than Covid),” mentioned Dorjee. “He is without doubt one of the uncommon figures and never just for Buddhism; he’s additionally a world determine, he’s distinctive.”

Dalai Lama, now 87, arrived on the grounds in a golf cart and needed to be assisted by two monks to stroll to the stage and be seated. Nonetheless, his thoughts appears alert, and so is his pondering school. He delivered a lecture of greater than an hour every day with none hesitancies or stammering.

Behind the minds of lots of the Tibetan devotees right here appeared to be for a way lengthy they might hear his teachings and be within the neighborhood of his charismatic character.

Reflecting on the worldwide attraction of Tibetan Buddhism and tradition at the moment and the actual fact that there have been many non-Tibetans right here, resembling westerners, Vietnamese, Thais and plenty of ethnic Chinese language from Southeast Asia, Professor Geshe Ngawang Samten, vice chancellor of the Central Tibetan College in Sarnath in India, mentioned that it’s due to Tibetans not having a house of their very own that its Buddhist traditions have unfold far and vast.

Professor Samten additionally pointed to a particular high quality of Dalai Lama’s teachings that elicits worldwide enchantment and admiration. “He attracts (consideration) as a result of he’s very rational; his thoughts could be very scientific,” he mentioned.

“The best way he addresses the problems both in particular person life or in social life, (he does it) by means of understanding the scenario and offering a software or answer that may be carried out by means of the transformation of an individual (or) the transformation of a social system (or) by means of the transformation of the schooling system.”

“That’s what folks admire. He isn’t in favour of propaganda and propagation of Buddhism,” mentioned Professor Samten. “At all times he advises that do not propagate it, don’t convert different communities and people who find themselves already inside a non secular form of system. So that’s his form of perspective.”

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