By P. Kharel
In a meet with students in India the other week, Tenzing Gyatso Dalai Lama termed “laughable” any suggestion that Buddha was born in Nepal. His lie backfired and embarrassed his hosts who often in the past promoted similar lines, provoking angry reactions in Nepal. Of late, Indian “experts” suddenly began exercising silence over the issue of Buddha’s place of birth. Their silence coincided with Indian leaders finally accepting in public that Buddha was, indeed, born in Nepal.
Hence the Dalai might not have been briefed on what his hosts’ changed stance is. Age could also have blurred any revised brief. After all he had been habituated for decades to parroting the line that vainly sought to present a fact wrong. At least, it speaks of his level of intelligence and/or honesty, propped up and funded as he is by Western governments. His lackeys made futile attempts at defending him but the Dharmashala, the Dalai residence in India, chose not to prolong the debate that proved embarrassing to its presiding deity as well as his hosts and patrons.
‘INCARNATIVE’: The Dalai, regarded as a religious leader by many Buddhists, is supposed to be an incarnation of a succession of previous Dalai Lamas. Until he fled Tibet and decided to live in exile in India some six decades ago, the practice was to save and serve his excreta and urine as auspicious ointment.
The biased media in the West and writers generally ignore this obnoxious practice, though they do not hesitate to persecute others in similar situation by provoking questions or exaggerating things. No Nepali Constitution or law, for instance, ever designated any king in Nepal as an incarnation of Bishnu or any other divine manifestation.
But Western news media persisted in their narratives that people in this country regarded the king as someone divine, Bishnu Avatar. They even confronted Nepali monarch with such base question, even if the latter never claimed or directed others to persist with such stance. Yet they tend to promote the belief among sections of Buddhism that Tenzing Gyatso directly incarnates more than a dozen previous Dalai representations.
In order to make political capital from his visits to different countries, he has been prompted by a desire to pay pilgrimage to various sites he deems holy. He wanted to come to Nepal, ostensibly on a pilgrimage to Lumbini and also Kathmandu Valley in the 1980s. In his several petitions to King Birendra, he emphasised especially Lumbini, “the birth place of Lord Buddha”. He beseeched that he may be granted an opportunity to undertake his religious duty, as if all his predecessors had arrived here. King Birendra rejected his idea of a visit to Kathmandu Valley but gave approval to the Tibetan’s quest for a visit to Lumbini.
POLITICAL SENSITIVITY: The reason for the visit was the same for both Dharmashala and Narayanhity Palace: political sensitivity. Whereas the Dalai wanted international attention to his interpretation of Tibet’s status, Narayanhity Palace was alert against giving room for any misgivings to the Chinese that Kathmandu compromised its firm reiteration that the autonomous region of Tibet was part of China. The Dalai motorcade was escorted by Nepalese security agencies from the nearest point along the border with India to Lumbini, where the visitor had an itinerary that did not exceed more than two hours. In all, the visit, including travel time, lasted barely three hours and turned out to be a very low affair. Beijing appreciated Nepal’s handling of the event so discreetly.
During the interim government’s time in 1990-91, Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai was close to approving a Dalai visit to Kathmandu but he retracted after King Birendra pointed out Chinese sensitivity to the Dalai’s scheme of drawing political mileage from such a trip that could have attracted wide Western media coverage to needle Beijing.
In his strategy for political attention, the Dalai had expressed keen interest in 1992 to visit Bhutan and pay his last obeisance in person to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, his guru in teachings related to Ningmapa sect of Buddhism.
In this pattern of things, the Dalai managed to invite himself to Mongolia in November 2016, which drew a strong censure from Beijing. This made Mongolia’s Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil announce that the government “feels sorry” for allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Mongolia.
Tibetan refugees have been in Nepal since 1959, seen by Beijing as being vulnerable to manipulation by Western powers keen in creating embarrassments and trouble for China. That might be the reason for Western nations to let Tibetan refugees continue in Nepal while refugee children are given fellowships, green cards and residency cards in different parts of Europe and the US. On the other hand, these countries hardly made any vociferous protests against Bhutan’s ethnic cleansing of its nationals of Nepalese descent. Instead, they agreed to settle most of the 100,000-plus Bhutanese refugees, who had arrived in Nepal since 1991.
With foreign schemes so obvious, Nepal government cannot afford to ignore Beijing’s sensitivity on the issue of the Dalai who used to lord over Tibet and its people in a mediaeval style until the 1950s.
Tide Of Times : Dalai’s Lie Falls Flat
By P. Kharel