A Hampion Of Freedom For Tibet

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On July 6, His Holiness the Dalai Lama turns 80, and 57 of those years have been spent in exile in India. From his abode in Dharamsala, His Holiness has campaigned relentlessly for freedom for Tibet and the human rights of his people. He has enriched India’s spiritual and religious traditions, honouring him with the Bharat Ratna would do this nation proud, BY SHANTA KUMAR

True to the Mongolian meaning of his title, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an ocean of wisdom. Every time I had the privilege of meeting him in the last half century, the experience was humbling, overwhelming, as though I was before an angel of peace and non-violence. Such is the strength of his personality.

Though he has relentlessly fought for the freedom of his people and his country for the last six decades, that struggle has been peaceful, non-violent. If Tibet’s national struggle has managed to survive for so long in the given circumstances (Chinese occupation), it is mainly due to the force of his personality and the values he stands for. Little wonder His Holiness is the most revered and admired among the galaxy of world leaders and spiritual personalities today.

My relationship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama is deeply personal and emotional. I went to see him for the first time in 1965 in Dharamsala, with the request that he pen a message in my book titled “Himalaya Par Laal Chhaya” (Red Shadow Over the Himalayas), which was about the India-China war of 1962.

It was a matter of great privilege for me that this great saint chose my parliamentary constituency Dharamsala, as his home in exile. One of his outstanding achievements during this period, is the successful revival and reconstruction of Tibet’s religion, culture, traditions and national personality.

His message of peace and non-violence has been acknowledged across the world as the most effective and desirable approach in today’s strife torn world

Tibet, a country with centuries of long and tranquil history, of a deeply spiritual tradition, lost its national identity following Chinese aggression. It caused the Dalai Lama to flee his country and on April 3, 1959 he crossed over to India where he was welcomed with great warmth. Since then he has been raising the issue of the denial of human rights of his nation. His message of peace and non-violence has been acknowledged across the world as the most effective and desirable approach in today’s strife torn world.

While addressing the US Congress in Washington on 21st September 1987, he presented his famous ‘Five-Point Peace Proposal’ for bringing peace to Tibet. These included declaring Tibet as a ‘zone of peace’; stopping the influx of Chinese migrants; respect for the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people; securing Tibet’s nature and environment and; ensuring his country’s special identity. It goes to the credit of His Holiness that Tibetan refugees in India, whose number is over a hundred thousand today, have consistently run a non-violent movement for their country’s freedom.

In 1989 when His Holiness was bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize, he accepted it with humility, saying that the prize was a recognition of the true values of altruism, love, compassion and non-violence which he has tried to practice, in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha and the great sages of India and Tibet. It surely reflects the greatness of his ideas and himself.

Acknowledging his efforts and contribution towards world peace, 67 nations have bestowed on him more than 150 major prizes. These include the Nobel Peace Prize, The Templeton Award and the Congressional Gold Medal, the last is America’s highest civic award equivalent to India’s Bharat Ratna.

He is revered by Tibetans and followers of Buddhism as the reincarnation of Avalokiteswara, the Buddha of Compassion. No surprise that his presence in India is like Lord Buddha’s home coming after a gap of over 2500 years.

For centuries India and Tibet have enjoyed a close emotional relationship. As citizens of India we feel privileged that His Holiness chose to live in India and contribute to the spiritual, cultural and social life of this country. It makes him most deserving of India’s highest civic honour - the ‘Bharat Ratna’.

India has had the privilege of honoring in the past, Mother Teresa, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela, none of whom were of Indian origin but who had earned the highest order of love and respect of the people of India. In honouring the Dalai Lama with the Bharat Ratna, India would be carrying this great tradition forward.

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