By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, August 16: Tibetan leader-in-exile His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Eid Gah in Padum on Saturday at the invitation of the Muslim community of Zanskar, Ladakh. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism greeted the congregants and said, “As a Buddhist monk, wherever I go, I encourage people to cultivate interfaith harmony. All religious traditions advise their followers to develop love and compassion and to work for the good of others. Therefore, whenever I can, I visit different places of worship, just as I came to this Eid Gah this morning.”
One of the recurring topics that the octogenarian leader raised during his public engagements in Ladakh was the promotion of religious harmony which is one of his key commitments. During the meeting, he expressed his joy to know that the Buddhist and Muslim communities were living in harmony: “I am happy to see that here in Zanskar, the Muslim and Buddhist communities are living in close harmony with each other, for which I would again like to thank our Muslim brothers and sisters today. Harmony in the Himalayan region as a whole is important because of the close relationship the region has had with Tibet, where a deep Buddhist culture stems from the historical tradition of Nalanda which we strive to keep alive.
However, the Dalai Lama expressed his sadness over the ongoing conflict between different religions around the world, as well as the conflict between different sects of a religion: “Although it is sad to see conflict erupt between followers of different religious traditions, it is even more saddening to witness quarrels between members of different denominations of the same faith, as seen between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Afghanistan. He further told the crowd that although religious traditions may have different philosophical views, all religions require their followers to be kind-hearted.
The Nobel laureate also noted that Zanskar has seen development in recent years: “Over the years there has been constant material development all over India, and I have noticed that Zanskar is also become more prosperous. However, he added that lasting happiness can only be found through peace of mind and concerted efforts to show compassion for one another.
The Dalai Lama recounted his relationship with the Muslim community in Lhasa, the capital of independent Tibet, who he said attended most festivals organized by the Tibetan government as a “show of respect”. “I was born in northeastern Tibet, where there was also a large Muslim community, so I have known Muslims since childhood. Indeed, the local Muslim warlord, Ma Bufang, took a particular interest in me and even before the Tibetan government in Lhasa announced that I was the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, he let it be known that it was his own judgement,” he added. said.