Tuesday, April 13, 2010

“For me, the Dalai Lama is God”


Says Tibetan Buddhist Thupten Yamphel

By Shevlin Sebastian

On December 26, 1992, 13-year-old Thupten Yamphel, along with his parents, and a couple of other Tibetan families traveled from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram to meet the Dalai Lama, who was on a two-day visit to Kerala. They stood in a line, as the Dalai Lama walked about shaking hands and greeting people.

Soon, the Dalai Lama stopped in front of Thupten, and asked him about his studies. The boy replied that he was a pupil of Breeks Memorial School in Ooty. A curious Dalai Lama asked whether any Tibetans lived in Ooty. “Very few,” replied Thupten.

The youngster was wearing an earring, and the Dalai Lama enquired about it. “I told Him that all my friends wore one and that was why I did so,” says Thupten. “He gave me a bright smile.”

The moment the Dalai Lama moved away, tears sprang from Thupten’s eyes. Soon, he had goose-bumps. “I realised there is a divine force in Him,” says Thupten. “That is why millions of Tibetans regard the Dalai Lama as God. We believe he is a reincarnation of Lord Buddha.”

Since Thupten studied in Tibetan schools only till Class five, he did not have a deep knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism. “Since I was enrolled in a Christian institution, and used to go to church, I was confused about who God is,” says Thupten. “But that brief meeting with the Dalai Lama was a turning point in my life. I began to regard Him as God.”

Every morning, at his home in Kochi, which Thupten, 31, shares with his wife and one-year-old son, he stands in front of a photo of the Dalai Lama, and prays.

“I ask Him to give me the strength to face all the problems during the day, and to keep us free from worries and diseases,” says Thupten.

So, does he find it difficult to regard a human being as God? “Not at all,” says Thupten. “Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammed, Lord Buddha, and Lord Mahavira were all human beings, even though they are regarded as divine. The only difference for us Tibetan Buddhists is our God is alive now.”

Sometimes, Thupten, a B.Com graduate from Sacred Heart College, Thevara, takes time off from his daily job of selling clothes at the Mullassery Canal Road area, and goes to the Sera Monastery at Bylakuppe village, 85 kms from Mysore.

The monastery has three main temples, and the central statue of Lord Buddha has a height of 60 ft.

“It looks like a palace,” he says. “I feel a sense of peace when I watch all the monks praying. It is only there that I feel that I am part of a community.”

Asked whether man needs God, Thupten says, “Unless you have the fear that somebody is watching you, you might end up doing many bad things. If I am planning to do something wrong, I will think of the Dalai Lama and restrain myself. Man needs God to guide him. Otherwise, he will go astray.”

(The New Indian Express, Kerala)

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