Oftentimes it is politics that takes the focus away from the reality of a situation by presenting a different perspective to suit the need of a particular environment. But there are also occasions when it is the same political considerations that highlights historical connections. One example of this is the sending of organized groups of Indian pilgrims to Gang Rinpoche (Mount Kailash) in Tibet, under the auspices of the governments of India and China.
On April 21, 2009, the Indian Foreign Ministry announced the latest group to be making the pilgrimage to Kailash later this year. Read More…
Those individuals in the West who have had some interest in Tibetan Buddhism since the Eighties, at least, of the last century would know of Vajradhatu Sun, the newspaper published by the Dharma Center of the late Trungpa Rinpoche. I used to be in Dharamsala then and would enjoy reading the newsletter for it provided me a glimpse of the evolution of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States. I loved reading about the different activities of the lamas and their disciples. I believe this newspaper has now folded into a magazine that covers areas beyond Tibetan Buddhism now.
However, I now enjoy reading the newsletter published by the Snow Lion Publications from Ithaca. Although it is a catalog of the books published by them, this paper carries different news and articles about Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist masters and the like. Best of all, they send it to you free if you order books from them. The latest issue carries articles by some Tibetan lamas whose names are new to me, but the issues they touch are quite interesting.
The other day (April 2, 2009) India’s President, Pratibha Patil, visited Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. Obviously, the issue of Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang is a matter of contention for the Chinese Government, which maintains that it is a part of Tibetan territory. Therefore, President Patil’s visit there is a political statement from India. I am waiting to see China’s reaction to it.
However, I was more engrossed with a photo that appeared in the media when President Patil visited Tawang. The photo appears to be taken during her visit to the famed Galden Namgyal Lhatse monastery, more popularly known as the Tawang Monastery. She is being greeted by monks in rows bearing the typical khata. What is different is the dress of the President. Instead of her usual Sari, President Patil is wearing a Chuba (gown), a Wonjug (shirt), a Shamo (Hat) as well as a Pangden (Apron), a dress that a typical Tibetan lady would wear. I have put “Tibetan” in quotes in the heading, because the Monpas, who are the inhabitants of Tawang, are related to Tibet and some of them may be wearing similar dress although they do have their unique garment.
I think there are photos of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi in a Tibetan dress, but this could be the first time an Indian President is in one. See for yourself here.