We will see again: Dalai Lama’s parting words to Ladakhis

India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May 2020 over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala.
Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama (File Photo)
Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama (File Photo)ANI

LHASA: Tibetan spiritual guru Dalai Lama's recent visit to the remote Himalayan region of Ladakh has irked China, which identifies him as a controversial figure, a "wolf in monks' clothing", or "splittist", but this is not his last visit, as Dalai Lama said "we will see again", in his parting words to Ladakhis.

Every visit Dalai Lama makes either to Ladakh or Arunachal Pradesh, it never fails to irk China and relapse their old wounds. This time it carries such a significant subtle poke to China, which might not be his intention, but in the background, lies the Galwan valley clash in 2020, a Tibet Rights Collective report said.

India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May 2020 over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala. The situation worsened after violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in June 2020.

The 2020 Galwan valley clash brought the two emerging superpowers to the brink of war. Both sides, according to news reports, deployed more than fifty thousand soldiers at the Line of Actual control.

In 2017, when the 14th Dalai Lama visited Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh for religious purposes, China summoned India's then-ambassador in Beijing, Vijay Gokhale, to file a formal protest, citing that India is trying to undermine the bilateral relationship.

This was surprising because Arunachal is under the direct jurisdiction of New Delhi and Beijing has no say whatsoever in the internal matters of India. China claims Arunachal as southern Tibet, putting a heavy burden of proof of the sixth Dalai Lama being born in Tawang as one of the tall claims over the region, the Tibet Rights Collective report said.

Recently, China was furious when Dalai Lama chose Ladakh for his first visit outside Dharamshala since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019. Irked by his visit to India, China recently criticised Prime Minister Modi, for extending wishes to the Dalai Lama who recently celebrated his 87th birthday, stating that India should stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China's internal affairs. But this is not the first visit of the Dalai Lama to Ladakh. Nor will it be his last. as he said "we will see again", in his parting words.

Beijing has always had an issue with Dalai Lama since he took shelter in India. In the 1950s, when China illegally occupied Tibet, the Tibetan Spiritual leader had to take shelter in India. The Dalai Lama tried to advocate for a mid-way negotiation with China to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet.

But despite China carrying out atrocious human rights abuses against its own people, and pillaging wealth and resources, Dalai Lama still speaks pragmatically about what's best for both countries.

It is this character, one who truly embodies genuine care even for one's adversary that makes his beloved and revered person, even beyond the remote Himalayan region of Ladakh, the Tibet Rights Collective report said.

During his visit, when Dalai Lama left for Ladakh via Jammu, he told the media present at his hotel "India and China, the two populated nations and neighbours - sooner or later you have to address this matter via negotiations and diplomatic means...use of military force is outdated."

Every year, whenever Dalai Lama visits Ladakh, he always makes time to visit various pilgrimage sites. Ladakh, home to different Tibetan schools of Buddhism have shown so much respect to the Dalai Lama, their devotion and faith in the Dalai Lama are unrivalled anywhere in India.

Even as China carried out atrocious human rights abuses against its own people, and pillaged wealth and resources, he still speaks pragmatically about what's best for both countries.

This time, the Tibetan spiritual guru made pilgrimages to the Jokhang, the principal Buddhist Temple in the centre of Leh, the Jama Masjid and Anjuman-e-Imamia mosques, as well as the Moravian Church in Leh. Ladakh has for long shared kinship with Tibet.

The first king of Ladakh was a ruler of western Tibet, who some believe, is the direct descendent of the last king of Tibet. The relationship between Ladakh and Tibet has not always been cordial. They have fought wars; some directly, others under the patronage of the Dogra king. But the peace between the regions has reigned longer than the anger and the animosity.

And for centuries, Ladakhi sent tributes to Lhasa through the hands of caravans, for protection, businesses and peace at the western borders, the Tibet Rights Collective reported.

When the Dalai Lama institution or Gaden Phodrang came into power during the fifth Dalai Lama, he increased his political and religious outreach, which before him were fragmented and confined only around Central Tibet.

He started a military campaign against the Ladakhi kingdom in 1679 and annexed the Ngari region. He also expanded his religious campaign and propagated his sect. Ladakh has always sent novices to be educated in central Tibet.

Religious education in central Tibet is unparalleled. The great three monasteries of Gelug order-Sera, Drepung and Gadhen have long produced some of the brightest scholars. The present Dalai Lama's religious outreach and social harmony have far more impact in Ladakh than the military campaign carried out by the fifth Dalai Lama.

According to Tsering Shakya, the present Dalai Lama, during the late 1970s, used to traverse the remote Himalayan region on foot and on a horse, when roads were unmetalled and New Delhi did not understand the political strategy of developing border regions.

The Dalai Lama's Gelug order has a large presence in the Himalayan region. The former Gaden Tripa, head of Gelugpa order of Tibetan school, Rizong Rinpoche is Ladakhi and came from the royal family of Matho. The Dalai Lama's own brother, Ngari Rinpoche has lots of monasteries under his patronage.

Bakula Rinpoche's relationship with the Dalai Lama is very close and they shared a long bond during the most turbulent time in Tibet. He did everything to make His Holiness the Dalai Lama's trip to India possible in 1956.

Bakula also did make the Dalai Lama's first visit to Ladakh possible. When he was serving as an ambassador of Mongolia, he pushed hard walls and made the Dalai Lama's visit to the former soviet state possible, Tibet Rights Collective reported.

The core of Dalai lama's popularity might lie in his institution and the weight it carried, but that alone won't win both the hearts and minds of the people.

His effort to harmonise different religions in the region and his constant message for the people to study Buddhism, instead of partaking in rituals and rites have made a huge impact on the people.

The recent 10 km long human chain reception given to him is unprecedented. Not even a country's PM would be received with such reverence, come rain or storm.

For the Chinese, he might be a controversial figure, but for Ladakhis, he is a highly venerated figure. Even if he is not Ladakhi, shared cultural values and religions have bonded the territorial demarcation.

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