His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Nobel laureate and supreme spiritual leader of Tibet has described conversions being carried out by some Christian missionaries around the world as “unhealthy” and said different faiths, philosophies and cultures have been nurtured in different environments and should not be changed.
Addressing a gathering of distinguished audience from different walks of life at the India Habitat Centre on August 22, the Dalai Lama also described India as the ‘Guru’ (teacher) and himself as ‘Chela’ (disciple).
“While some of our Christian brother and sisters totally devoted to God are rendering a great service, perhaps the greatest service to education, sometimes they also carry conversion activity. That is unhealthy’’, he said in his characteristic manner.
“They should not change the religion of others as faith, philosophy and culture are nurtured in different environment”, the spiritual leader told the audience which also comprised many Westerners. The Dalai Lama said though he regularly addressed meetings around the world, he never told them to change their “Judeo Christian faith”. Some Buddhist monks from other countries have also expressed their concern over the conversion activities by Christian missionaries, he said. The high profile event was organised by media baron and independent Rajya Sabha Member Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Ashoka University and UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development.
Dalai Lama said modern India has become too much westernised, while exhorting young Indians to pay more attention to their knowledge and rich culture and traditions.
He listed all the teachers of the Nalanda tradition from Nagarajuna onwards among his Gurus. Recalling how both local and foreign religions have found equal patronage in India since time immemorial, the Dalai Lama said it reflects India’s greatness and makes it an example for the rest of the world to emulate.
The Buddhist leader said ancient Indian psychology is highly developed and very sophisticated and in comparison Western psychology is at “Kindergarten stage”. However, he wondered how such a deeply religious country such as India can have so much corruption. The spiritual leader, who was speaking on the topic One World, One Vision, One Future, said most of the problems which the humanity is facing today are of its own creation. Modern world is inter-dependent and the sameness of human beings needs to be emphasised.
Later, responding to questions from the audience, the Dalai Lama said Tibet is “materially backward” and it can benefit by remaining within the People’s Republic of China but “the Tibetan language and tradition should be preserved” at all costs.
Earlier, welcoming His Holiness, Rajeev Chandrasekhar described him as “one of the giants of our times – not just spiritual leader for the 800 million Buddhist world-wide but also to rest of the world as well. A leader who espouses peace and coexistence when most world leaders talk a contrarian language.”
He expressed his concern over two very worrying trends – A growing sense of intolerance and conflicts around the world and the other the growing pressures on traditional culture and values by the unrelenting demands of economic and developmental expediency!
KG Suresh (The writer is senior fellow & editor with Vivekananda International Foundation)