Dalai Lama calls for preserving of Tibet's cultural, religious and linguistic identity
New Delhi, July 4: The Tibetan issue is no longer a struggle for political independence, the Dalai Lama has said, asserting that there is a need to focus on preservation of Tibet's cultural, religious and linguistic identity.
Political independence is mainly meant for the happiness of the people, but does it alone guarantee happiness, the Tibetan spiritual leader asked.
"There is a growing feeling among the top leaders in China that their policies have not been able to solve the Tibet issue in the last 70 years. So they should follow a more realistic approach. Even though Tibet was an independent country, politically China occupies Tibet today," he told news magazine 'The Week' in an interview.
"Under the given circumstances, I have been saying for some time now that there is a need to focus on preservation of Tibetan culture, religion and identity. It is no longer a struggle for political independence," he said.
The 14th Dalai Lama left Tibet in 1959 to escape Chinese occupation and has been keeping China on tenterhooks about his successor. In April this year, at a global conference, he had said, people from Tibet have been seeking a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibetan issue with China since 1974 but Beijing considers him a "splittist" though he isn't one. The spiritual leader, who turns 84 soon, had said he preferred Tibet remaining with China, with "some kind of a reunion".
In the interview, given in Himachal Pradesh's McLeodganj, the Dalai Lama also said as long as the Tibetan people can preserve their thousands of years old cultural heritage, religion and identity, it will bring them inner peace and happiness.
"For this, I really admire the Indian Union for its unity in diversity. In a similar way, the People's Republic of China and Tibet can coexist keeping Tibet's cultural, linguistic and religious identity," he said.
On a question, about his successor, he said, "I can only be concerned about this life; the next is not my concern. What is important are the teachings, the institution of the Dalai Lama comes after that. If reincarnation was so important, then why did the Buddha not have a reincarnation," adding, "sometimes, I also feel the lama institution has some connection with the feudal system and is not relevant today".
The Tibetan spiritual leader recently apologised for his comment on women in a BBC interview, with his office in Dharamshala saying he has always opposed their objectification.
Responding to a question on whether his reincarnation could be a woman, the Nobel Peace Prize winner had joked that she should be attractive. On a question on India, he said, the rich people in India should pay more attention to the study of Indian philosophy and texts "rather than just uttering 'Ram Ram' and doing puja".
"It is better to create small libraries and learn about ancient Indian philosophy and psychology than just praying without any knowledge and performing rituals without understanding them," he said.
On his association with prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, he said, "Pandit was very kind to me; he advised me under difficult circumstances. I followed his advice, and it was very practical. I came to India in 1956, during Buddha Jayanti. At that time, many Tibetan officials told me that I should stay in India and not return".
He said, he returned to Tibet in 1957. "I tried my best (to maintain peace with the Chinese), but after some time... there (were) uprisings. In 1959, things went out of control and I decided to escape from Tibet," the Dalai Lama added. "I am grateful to the Indian government (and leaders such as) Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Narasimha Rao and the (later) generation of leaders, and also Indian officials who have been very sympathetic towards Tibet," he said. Today, India and Tibet are very close not only for political or economic reasons, but also spiritually and emotionally, he added.
On China calling him a separatist, and his 60th year of exile in India, he said, "Let them (Chinese) say I am a separatist. That will be helpful as I will continue to live in India peacefully".
"If they sincerely ask me to return — although on many occasions to some Chinese individuals I mentioned that I prefer freedom — and if I return to China, I (will be) put in a big house with no freedom. There is no use. I am happy to live in India for the rest of my life," the Dalai Lama said.
"Among all civilisations, whether it is Chinese or Egyptian, it is the Indus Valley civilisation that has produced the best thinkers and philosophers. I consider Buddhism and Hinduism as twin brother and sister. India's civilisation is something wonderful and should be known for its contribution to the world," he asserted.