Archive | February 2011

Bringing Mount Kailash of Tibet to the United States

If efforts of a Hindu center in the United States are successful there may soon be a miniature version of the holy Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar constructed near Dallas in Texas.

The Siddhayatan Ashram & Spiritual Retreat, located in Windom near Dallas, TX, has announced just such a project that includes a six storey high “Mount Kailash” on a 10 acre area and a 20 acre lake in the shape of Lake Mansarovar.

Photo of Mount Kailash of Tibet.

Located in Ngari region in Western Tibet, Mount Kailash is known as Gang Rinpoche and Gangri Tise to Tibetans.  Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is considered sacred to not just Buddhists and followers of Bon in Tibet but also to Hindus and Jains. Every year several Indian pilgrims visit Mount Kailash in tours officially organized by the government of India.  The route is a difficult and risky one.

The Center’s website has a  photo of the model of the proposed structure. It has statues of Hindu and Jain gods on top of the mountain. The Center has outlined the following reasons behind their plan to construct this miniature version.

Photo of the proposed miniature version. Photo: http://siddhayatantirth.org

“Mt. Kailash is currently in Tibet and controlled by China (access is difficult).

“Mt. Kailash is the MOST NEGLECTED TIRTH by both Hindus and Jains

“To bring Holy Soil and Water from this special place so all can be benefited.”

A “tirth” is the term for pilgrimage in the Indian language.

I am in two minds on how I should be approaching this issue. While reproducing a spiritual place in a different location may have a visual purpose I wonder how much of a religious value it will have. Some may feel this to be a case of bringing the mountain to Muhammad.

Tibet Ad. At the Super Bowl, Was it Good or Bad?

Every Super Bowl time there is as much attention to the commercials that may be released during the broadcast as there is on the actual match.  American football fans being what they are they want the commercials to also bring in the same  excitement as the match.  This year there certainly was a touchdown in the commercial match concerning Groupon’s Tibet themed Ad.

I have written about it on the blog of the International Campaign for Tibet.  While the commercial may not suit the taste of all people and may not have culturally got the issue right, the positive certainly outweighed the negative.  It is interesting to see the range of comments that my blog, Of  Super Bowl, Tibetan Culture, and a Fish Curry, received.  The two people who have identified themselves as Tibetans seem to have appreciated the commercial while there are others (almost all of them non-Tibetans) who have been critical.  Similarly, when I was at the Voice of America Tibetan service the other day, almost all Tibetan broadcasters that I talked to there were positive about the value of this commercial. This let me to ponder on the reasons behind this.

Could it be that we Tibetans have lowered our expectations from the international community and now subscribe to the view that “any publicity is good publicity” or could it be that non-Tibetans do not get it, namely finding a space for a strong Tibet message and its implications on Tibet, China and the international community.  Have a look at the commercial, the comments and judge for yourself.

Dalai Lama’s Help in Building a Hospital in India

This news has appeared in India’s Economic Times a few days back but I just saw it. It highlights some issues that may not be known by the public.

5 Feb, 2011, 02.31PM IST,IANS

Dalai Lama uses donations to fund hospital

DHARAMSALA: A Right to Information (RTI) plea has revealed how Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama uses donations – with at least Rs.1 crore going towards setting up a hospital in Himachal Pradesh.

Information gathered by RTI activist Lawan Thakur of Mandi town Friday showed that the Dalai Lama has donated Rs.1 crore to a trust setting up a multi-speciality medical college and research institute in Palampur town, some 40 km from his official palace here.

Apart from his own contribution, the Dalai Lama’s appeal to his followers here and abroad resulted in further donations of over Rs.1.5 crore to the trust, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party vice president and former chief minister Shanta Kumar.

According to information obtained by Thakur, the spiritual leader donated Rs.50 lakh twice — on Jan 9, 2003 and Nov 29, 2003 — to the Vivekananda Medical and Research Trust .

On the appeal of the Dalai Lama, four people settled in New York donated around Rs.1 crore on a single day to the trust.

Thakur told IANS that G.V. Hurag, Le Ce Yuan, Moon Chung Wang and Harish Wey sent the money Nov 2, 2002. “However, the origin of the donors has not been revealed in the RTI response,” he added.

Similarly, US residents Muriyar Clans contributed Rs.1.2 million Nov 2, 2002, Kajooey Rawey Rs.480,000 Dec 10, 2003, and Lagi Hey Rs.226,900 Jan 12, 2004 to the trust.

Dharamsala-based Tibetan NGO Ko Tibetan Religion donated Rs.39,76,870 Sep 16, 2004.

Shanta Kumar said: “Some of the donations were received from abroad by the trust on the appeal of the Dalai Lama to his followers.”

The foundation stone of the multi-crore Vivekananda Medical College and Research Institute was laid in 1992 and it’s likely to be completed in the next three years.

Thubten Samphel, secretary of the department of information and international relations of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), told IANS: “The Dalai Lama does a lot. He donates liberally to universities for studies on world peace, compassion, non-violence and promoting human values. He donates in India a lot, and abroad too.”

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Communist rule in 1959. His Tibetan government-in-exile is based at McLeodganj, near this Himachal town.

It is not recognised by any government. Over 94,000 Tibetans live in India today.

Tashi la, My Father-in-Law

Last week,  my father-in-law, Tashi la, passed away in Dharamsala. I have never had a substantive conversation with him but I have greatly admired him for his determined sense of dedication.

Although he was not educated in the modern sense, my father-in-law had spent a major portion of his life serving the previous Ling Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist master who had served as a tutor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  My wife would tell me how she used to visit the Rinpoche at the Ling Labrang, known by its cottage name of “Chopra House,” in Mcleod Ganj when she was small and how the Rinpoche would give her treats or play with her.  Those who know of his work during those days say that he served Ling Rinpoche loyally.

When I came to know him, my father-in-law had retired from Ling Rinpoche’s service but was active in the local Tibetan community. He was serving as a group leader or Gyapon and the title virtually became a part of his identity. Everybody seemed to know him as “Gyapon Tashi” and he was bound to be there in any local event in the Tibetan community in Dharamsala, whether it was a Lhabsol, some social work, a public meeting, or a demonstration. One gripe the family had was that he would disregard his work at home to attend to some public engagement, but they nevertheless supported his endeavor.  His singular sense of dedication to the Tibetan Government and holding  that as a standard sometimes got him involved in local controversies, too.

 

Eventually, he retired from his Gyapon position. But until the last few months leading to his demise he did not miss his daily circumambulation on the Lingkor. Every time I visited his residence when I was in Dharamsala, if it was in the morning, I would see him with a prayer wheel in one hand, and may be an umbrella or a bag slung around his shoulder, about to leave for his kora or returning from one.

He was also an ardent listener of the Tibetan radio programs (but not much of a fan of the TV program because he found this distracting). When I met him in later years, he had relocated himself on the rooftop of their humble place in Dharamsala, with a transistor radio beside his bed. Whenever we met there was not much of a conversation between us except for the customary greetings and a few words about this or that. During such brief exchanges, he would talk about some political news he had heard on the radio or even recall an interview with me that he had heard on one radio program or the other.

 

My own father passed away many years ago and with the passing away of my father-in-law now I am reminded of the gradual generational change taking place in the Tibetan community.

The Dalai Lama’s Master Plan

I do not think I posted this article of mine on my blog here. Given the issue of His Holiness’ “retirement” I think this merits a rereading.

The Dalai Lama’s Master Plan

By Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review
August , 2006

In a speech in Washington, D.C. on April 18, 1991, His Holiness the Dalai Lama referred to the need of a “master plan for a better world.” He said, “We need to think very deeply and hold consultations to come up with some kind of master plan for a better world. Sometimes, perhaps I think it is a little bit idealistic, but I feel our role should be based on the principles of democracy, freedom and liberty. I think the ultimate goal should be a demilitarized world. I feel very strongly about this.”

This month, I want to draw your attention to the issue of “master plan,” which is directly related to the institution of the Dalai Lama.

In his book, Mystical Verses of a Mad Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist scholar Glenn Mullin talks about the activities of the previous Dalai Lamas and includes this comment by the present Dalai Lama, “Thus these Dalai Lamas seem to have had three master plans: the first involving the First to the Fifth Dalai Lamas; the second involving the Sixth, which failed; and then the third, which involves the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and myself. But the situation for me is under great pressure, and I don’t have much room to move. Perhaps I will have to come up with some fourth master plan.” Read More…

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