Monday, September 06, 2010

'The power of truth will triumph over the gun'

The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on a visit to Kochi, expressed hope that his country, under Chinese rule, will get autonomy one day

Photo: The Dalai Lama wearing the Kerala thalapavu (headgear)

By Shevlin Sebastian

When one of Kerala's well-known cartoonists K.J. Yesudasan placed a thalapavu (headgear) on the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan religious leader smiled, and said, “I received a similar one two days ago in Bylakuppe (Karnataka). I will soon have a collection. Thank you very much.”

The Dalai Lama came to Kochi yesterday for his first-ever visit to the coastal city. In his opening engagement, he met with an audience of about a hundred people, comprising academicians, intellectuals, journalists, politicians, and cultural figures at the Gateway Hotel, at a meeting organised by the 'Friends of Tibet'.

The Dalai Lama was clad in his familiar maroon tunic and yellow shawl and looked a decade younger than the 75 he actually is. Thereafter, he proceeded to give a remarkable 40-minute talk on the history and background of the Tibet struggle.

“Since 1959 the basic policy of the Chinese has remained the same,” he said. “The suppression and destruction of Tibetan culture. But our spirit remains strong. We believe in non-violence and compassion.”

But his impish humour, which was on display throughout the speech, came to the fore. “But that does not mean that the Tibetans don't fight with each other, but they are in a minority,” he said. Later, the Dalai Lama added, “Some people regard me as a living Buddha. But in China, they regard me as a living demon.” He bursts out laughing at this point.

But His Holiness looked worried when he spoke about the ecological destruction of the Tibetan Plateau, the third 'pole' after the North and South Poles. “Thanks to the endless cutting of trees, global warming is much faster now,” he says. All the major rivers, like the Brahmaputra and the Indus river, originate in the plateau. “A billion people in many countries in Asia, including India, who depend on these rivers will be affected,” he said.

But the Dalai Lama's message, ultimately, was one of hope. “The power of the gun is decisive in the short run,” he said. “But to implement it, you need many people. For the power of the truth to succeed, you need only one person.”

He gave the example of Mahatma Gandhi and how he triumphed over the might of the British Empire. “I am convinced that the power of truth will win, one day, in Tibet,” he said.

The Dalai Lama said that when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Empire disintegrated, nobody could have predicted these events. “This can happen in China also,” he said. Incidentally, more than 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed so far, and thousands remain in prison in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama said that he had met many young Chinese students who told him that they had been brainwashed by the distorted propaganda about Tibet meted out by the Communist party.

“When they went to Tibet, they were amazed to see the goodness of the Tibetan people,” he told the spell-bound audience at Kochi. “As more and more Chinese students study abroad and meet young Tibetans, they will understand us better and bring about a change in our country.”

(The New Indian Express, Kerala)

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