Fujisan's Kyareng

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Japan

His Holiness with Shinzo Abe [Former Japanese Prime Minister]

Tokyo: His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the last leg of his 10-ten days [29th Oct - 7th Nov] visit to Japan was met by a group of Japanese Lawmakers at the hotel this morning. The group headed by the former Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe greeted His Holiness the Dalai Lama and expressed gratitude for visiting the earthquake, tsunami and radiation affected regions, and for his encouraging and condolence message to the grief stricken people in the region. The lawmakers also expressed their support for His Holiness middle path approach to solve the Tibet issue and expressed their concern about the deteriorating situation in Tibet.

Later, His Holiness the Dalai Lama attended a press meeting organized by Free Press Association of Japan in Tokyo wherein about eighty journalists from major TV stations, newspapers and magazines attended the meeting. His Holiness greeted the press and said that his main purpose of visit to Japan this time was to give teachings organized by Koyasan University in Osaka and Koyasan region. Secondly, to visit the earthquake, tsunami and radiation affected areas to share the people's grief and to say that they are not alone.

Next, His Holiness explained the two important missions of his life: promotion of human value and religious harmony. "Human beings are intelligent beings capable of making positive contribution to the society, but this intelligent should be guided by right motivation based on moral ethics and values. This has nothing to do with religion. With good foundation of human values and ethics, our intelligence could be directed to making this planet a better place to live. As a common citizen of this world, I would like to work for the promotion of human values.

"Secondly, as a Buddhist monk, I am working for the promotion of religious harmony. All the major religions of the world despite some differences in philosophy, they preach the same message of love, compassion, forgiveness and togetherness. Unfortunately, we get involved in religious misunderstanding and creates disharmony. I am saying this to you because the media people have great responsibility to educate and inform the general public, you should take more initiatives in these areas to promote peace and harmony." His Holiness said.

Major questions from the journalists revolved around the repetitive self-immolation incidents occurring in Tibet. His Holiness clarified that He has fully devolved his political authority to the popularly elected leader of Tibetan people this March, and that Dalai Lama's institution now is spiritual only. "But this does not mean that I have resigned from Dalai Lama. The institution has reverted back to what it was during First to Fourth Dalai Lama in early history. I am committed to democracy. Personally, I feel that these self-immolation incidents should be viewed deeply from political, religious and philosophical point of view. Even after sixty years of Chinese rule, these incidents show the real situation in Tibet. These are desperate acts by people seeking justice and freedom. Chinese leaderships should take this seriously and try to solve the people's grievances. They should accept the reality, reality is that there is human rights problem in Tibet, religious and cultural oppression is going on, and there is environmental destruction in Tibet. Is this liberation or occupation? Instead of accepting my words, media people should visit Tibet and investigate the truth." Said His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Amidst the cheers and standing ovation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left the press venue. Later, in the afternoon, Japanese monks and general public and Tibetans flocked at the hotel to see His Holiness leave for his next journey to Mongolia.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama's ten-days visit concluded successfully, everywhere he was received by the general public warmheartedly and in great respect in long rows and folded hands. His Holiness conferred Dorying [Vajradhattu] initiation to some 800 monks and general public at the most Japanese sacred pilgrimage site of Mount Koya. He interacted with Japanese and Russian scientists on the subject of religion, life and universe. Visit to the Earthquake, tsunami and radiation affected areas was greatly appreciated by the public and mass media. Many people cried holding His Holiness' hand and hugging him. Talk and discussion with young school children inspired the young minds to have a greater vision beyond national boundary. His meeting with press clarified his position as Dalai Lama and total devolution of political authority to the elected leader.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Homage to the Tibetan Martyrs

Tokyo: [October, 10 Monday] Tibetans and Japanese gathered in multitude today at Joenji, a Japanese Buddhist Temple at Shinjuku, Tokyo, to remember and to offer prayers for the Tibetan martyrs who sacrificed their lives for freedom and justice in Tibet. Liaison office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan and East Asia in Tokyo organized the sacred event.

Mr. Lhakpa Tshoko, Representative of the Office briefed the critical situation continuing in Tibet, especially in the Ngaba region of Amdo province. He said that suicide is a rare happening in Tibet, particularly by the monks. "Fact that the monks are driven to commit suicide by self immolation to knock the door of justice implies the gravity of situation, and the extent of Chinese oppression in Tibet. These acts of martyrdoms in desperation are the result of fifty years of the Chinese authoritarian rule in Tibet. From this we can very well understand what the Chinese rule had been in Tibet for all these years." He said.

People paid respect and homage at the altar where the names and the photos of the seven young monks who committed self-immolation since this March was placed adorned with traditional Tibetan white scarves and offerings of butter lamps. Tibetan national flags were hoisted at the two sides of the altar to indicate national honor the brave martyrs.

Tibetans and Japanese together recited 'Sherab nyingpo, Dolma and Guru supplication prayers', this was followed by Japanese version of Heart Sutra, Hangyashingyo. Rev. Kobayashi, Representative of Japanese Monks Federation for Tibet, led the Japanese prayer. Some Japanese were seen shedding tears while reciting the prayers.

Notable participants were University professors and young students. Some of them expressed exasperation over how Chinese security personals beat and mishandled the fire-engulfed monks without any compunction. A young Japanese woman while talking with her friends expressed surprise over how China, a self-proclaiming world power, could commit such bestial acts against innocent Tibetans while celebrating the centenary of republic day with great pomp and show. "If the Chinese people could boast of revolution hundred years ago, the Chinese as well as Tibetans have the same right to call for revolution now." was the unanimous voice at the gathering.

Mr. Lhakpa Tshoko thanked the participants for their support at the conclusion of prayer session and informed the gathering about the recent clarification statement issued by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the reincarnation issue, and the devolution of temporal authority of HIs Holiness to the elected Tibetan leader through popular mandate.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Prayer Service in Tokyo for Deceased Tsewang Norbu

Tokyo: Tibetans and Japanese observed a prayer gathering in Tokyo on August 28, in memory of Tsewang Norbu, a Tibetan monk who committed self-immolation on August 15 in Kham region of Tibet. The prayer gathering coincide the 14th day funeral service of the deceased monk. Tibetan community in Japan supported by Tibet Support group members organized the gathering at Joenji, a Buddhist temple in Shinjuku city of Tokyo.

Tsewang Norbu, a young monk of Nyatsa Monastery openly called for freedom in Tibet and return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and later immolated himself to draw the Government's attention. The Chinese government sent a huge military contingent and cordoned off the monastery, and severed water and electricity connection to the monastery. The situation in the region is said to be very volatile with Beijing taking rigid stance on the dissenters.

Mr. Tsewang Gyalpo Arya, Joint secretary of Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan & East Asia briefed the gathering on the situation in the region, and said that the Chinese government has always oppressed the Tibetans' voice for freedom and justice. The way the government handled the Kirti monastery incident last March when a young monk Phuntsok did self-immolation under similar circumstances, and this Nyatso monastery siege is a testimony to the brutality of Chinese rule in Tibet. This prayer gathering is also a message to the Chinese government that the world is watching their evil deeds, he said.

He appealed the Japanese government and the people to urge the Chinese leadership to take Tibet issue seriously and to resolve it as any responsible government would.

Rev. Kobayashi, Representative of Japanese monks federations spoke on the critical situation in Tibet with the cases of self immolation harshly dealt by the despotic regime. "The fact that the monk Tsewang Norbu choosed 15th August, the independence day of India, is implicit of what is lies deep within him, I request the people here to cogitate deeply on the Tibetan freedom struggle and voice our support to this just cause of Tibet." He said.

Tibetans and Japanese read the prayers of Praise to Tara, Heart Sutra, and recitation of Mani and Guru's mantra. Japanese monks led the prayer of Hangyashingyo, Japanese version of Heart Sutra, and paid respect at the alter where the photo of the deceased is placed.

With the growing Chinese military built up and increased intrusion in the Sea around Japan's Senkaku Island, when Japan is struggling hard to recover from the earthquake and tsunami disaster, Japanese people are wary of Chinese government's intention and integrity.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jomolungma; the Mount Everest

Jomolungma is Tibetan name for the Mount Everest. The world's highest mountain [8848 meter. 29,029 feet] stands in between the borderland of Nepal and Tibet. Many wonder what the word "Jomolungma" really means, and some suggested reference in the blog.

Dhauladhar peak in Dharamsala, India.

Here is my naive attempt to explain the meaning: the Tibetan word "Jomo" stands for Holy and respected female; it could be a nun, fairies, female deities, even queens. Lungma, literally means female elephant or mother-elephant. [Elephant is considered sacred in Buddhism; see how the Buddha was conceived]. So, Jomolungma, as explained above, could be interpreted as "Holy Mother" or "Sacred Mother".

More specifically, etymology of the word "Jomo lungma" could be traced to the ancient protector deities of Tibet. The Mount Everest is believed to be the abode of the Tibetan Goddess Jomo Tseringma, the principal goddess of Tsering Che-nga sisters. Tsering Che-nga is a nomenclature for the five-sister goddesses, who are among the main protector deities of Tibet.

The Five Long-life-sister goddesses are: Tseringma, Thingsangma, Losangma, Drinsangma, and Drosangma. The Goddess Tseringma or Jomo Tseringma is considered to be the chief of the five sisters; she dwells in the Mount Everest. Therefore, the mountain is known as "Jomo Lungma", the abode of Holy Mother.

The Mount Everest is also known in Tibetan as "Jomo Gangkar", Jomo refers to the Goddess Tseringma, and Gang-kar means, "as white as snow". Therefore, the Snow-white Holy Mother.

The place and authority of the Goddess Tseringma in Tibetan pantheon deities is implicit from the fact that under Tsering Chengas, there are further twelve goddesses around the Himalayas under name of Tenma-chunyi headed by the Goddess Yu-dronma. This confirms the popular belief endemic in the Himalayan regions that the Tsering Che-ngas are among the powerful protector deities revered highly not only in Tibet but in the whole Himalayan regions since the time immemorial.

References: Oracles and Demons of Tibet by Rene De Nebsesky - Wojkowitz, And Dungkar Tsigzoe chenmo by Dungkar Lobzang Trinley.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chinese leaderships should learn from Dalai Lama

China has recently barred foreign tourists from visiting the Amdo region of Tibet where Labrang monastery is situated. This is done to stage a performance wherein Tibetan monks and masses will be forced to receive and respect the Chinese appointed Panchen Lama in the region. This state enacted show would be carefully covered and video taped; and later shown to the world to claim 'freedom of religion' in Tibet, and to mislead the world to legitimize their [false] Panchen Lama. The real Panchen Lama, Gedhun Chokyi Nyima, revered by the Tibetans had been kidnapped by the communist regime in 1995, when he was only six.

Panchen Lama at six, the youngest politico-religious prisoner in China

Chinese communist regime, which does not believe in religion, which destroyed Tibetan monasteries and tortured thousands of monks and nuns, is staging this religious drama to deceive the world to justify their rule in Tibet. For the fear of getting this sham exposed, and to hush up the brutality with which they will suppress the dissents, they have barred the foreign media and tourists from visiting the region, making sure that the world doesn't have any witness to the gruesome ugly act that they are about to perform.

Chinese leaderships have deliberately avoided discussing the Tibet issue all these years. While Deng Xiaoping acknowledged the issue, the subsequent leaders denied the existence of Tibet issue, and reduced it to the issue of Dalai Lama and his return.

Chinese leadership knew that the truth and justice is not with them. It is this fear that has kept them from sincerely discussing the issue, and they think the issue would confront a natural death with Dalai Lama gone. They are wrong, the recent election of Tibetan Prime minister Lobsang Sangay [Kalon Tripa] and his assumption of total political power is a clear message to the Beijing that the new generation has taken the baton of Tibetan struggle, and the issue will continue to live to challenge the despotic communist regime.

News articles on Ven Phuntsok and Ven Tsewang Norbu

In the month of March this year, a young monk Phuntsok did self-immolation to protest the Chinese oppression and injustice. Kirti monastery was sealed, more than 300 monks were arrested, many were tortured and police dogs were unleashed on unarmed public. Now, on 15th August, on the independence day of India, Tsewang Norbu, a monk from Nyisto monastery in Kham Kardze burned himself to protest Chinese rule in Tibet and calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Chinese authority is said to have deployed large army contingent and cordoned off the monastery, cutting electricity and water supply.

Brutally suppressing the people's voice through use of violence and threats is not a commendable act as a fair government, but the China has always adopted violence and threats as principal tools to oppress Tibet. They insulted Tibetans' religious sentiments by deriding His Holiness the Dalai Lama from time to time, and imposing false Panchen Lama's reincarnation on Tibetan society. Does the Chinese leaders really think that by doing these despicable wicked things, they will win the Tibetan people's trust and obedience??

It is our sincere prayer that the Chinese leaderships wake up and acknowledge the realities, and take the Tibet issue seriously. The leadership should have the political will and vision to address the people's voice for freedom, justice and democracy.

Good leaders are those who dispense freedom and democracy; bad leaders are those who deprive the people of freedom and democracy. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has devolved all his political power, and dispensed freedom and democracy in exile community. If the Chinese leaderships want to be in the good pages of the history, they should follow Dalai Lama, and devolve China to the Chinese, and Tibet to the Tibetans.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kukai; The Founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan

Tokyo Ueno National Museum is currently holding an exhibition of Buddhist arts and artifacts, "Kukai's World: The Arts of Esoteric Buddhism". The exhibition is centered on the spiritual journey and accomplishment of Kukai, the grand master, who established Shingon [Mantrayana] school of Buddhism in Japan during Heian period [794-1192] of Japanese history.

According to Bukyo Dendokyokai's publication, there were some 13 [shu] major schools of Buddhism in Japan with 56 [ha] sub-schools prior to the World War II. Shingo shu is one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan.

Kukai [773-835] visited China of Tang dynasty as a part of Japanese delegation in 804 to study the Mahavairocana Sutra. He stayed at Seiryuji Temple in Chang-an [Xi'an] and studied for two years of under Master Hui-go [Jap: Keika] about the Mantrayana teachings and the rituals.

Kukai is said to have elevated the Japanese Shinto kamis to the rank of Buddhas, and declared the Japanese emperor as manifestation of Buddha Amitabbha, the Buddha of infinite lights. This greatly pleased both the Buddhist and Shinto, and furthered the Shinbutsushugo [co-existence of Shinto and Buddhism] spirit.

[Vajra; Dorjee - symbolising the wisdom(prajna)aspect of the teachings]

There were paintings of mandalas, Buddhist rituals artifacts and manuscripts written by Kukai. It was greatly inspiring to see the lengthy handwritings of Kukai on religious discourses. There was a Vajra [Tib:Dorje], it was explained at the exhibition site that Kukai threw the Vajra in the air from a certain mountain in China with a prayer to find an appropriate site to build a monastery, and this Vajra fell on Japan's mount koya.

After two years of rigorous study in China, Kukai returned and devoted his life in teaching and practicing Shingon Buddhism in Japan. He was considered acclaimed scholar and inventor, and has contributed greatly in flowering the Japanese religion and culture. He entered Nirvana in 835 at Mount Koya in Wakayama prefecture. Emperor Daigo conferred the title of Kobo Daishi [Great Master] posthumously to Kukai.

Interesting point to note is that Kukai visited China when Sadnaleg [... – 815], also known as Tride Tsugden, was the Emperor of Tibet. He visited the Tang China around the time when the Tibetan military power was at its zenith. In 763, during the reign of 40th King of Tibet, Trisong Deutsen, it is said that the Tibetan army stormed Chang-an, the capital of Tang China. The Emperor Kao Hui had to escape the capture; the Tibetan army installed new Emperor and named Ta-she as title of the new reign. Later, the Tibetan army marched westward as far as Oxus River into the Arabian territories.

From the religious point, the great Samye debate [792-94] between Indian and Chinese Buddhism to establish the veracity of the teachings was done in Tibet around that time. These military and religious developments happened prior to the visit of Kukai to the Chinese capital of Chang-an, which had seen many ups and downs with the Tibetan empire in political and religious field. It is said that one of the three stone pillars recording the peace treaty between Tibet and China was installed at Chang-an city, which China has now destroyed to distort the historical facts. And the Chinese scholars tend to dispute this claim of Tibetan military supremacy.

Had Kukai taken some interest and commented on these early relationships between Tang China and Tibetan empire, it could be held as a very authoritative testimony to the history around that time. Scholars on Kukai may be in a better position to enlighten the historian on this matter. This was what prompted me to visit the exhibition at Ueno Tokyo, and I hope to read Kukai in the near future to see whether the grand master has taken any interest in the land in the west, which has preserved the true teachings of Vajarayana Buddhism to this day.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Japanese Shinto and Tibetan Bon Teachings

[Hanazono Shinto Shrine at Shinjuku, Tokyo]

Shinto is the native religion of Japan, which existed much before the advent of Buddhism in the region. Much of the foundation of Japanese culture and aestheticism could be traced to this ancient religious concept. It involves worship and deference of numerous Kamis [spirits] believed to be a part of the natural environments in which we all live.

A Kami can be understood as a spirit or a semi/demi-god inhabiting the mountains, rivers, valleys, private homes etc. They help the human when they are appeased or are happy. They bring disease and natural calamities when they are offended. It is a kind of animism, where nature in its diverse form is deferred as a manifestation of kamis.

It has no written scriptures to study or debate the philosophical aspect of its practice. Shinto actually means, the way of the gods or spirits, or the sacred way.

Buddhism came to Japan from China and Korea and flourished during Nara period in 8th century. Early Bon religion of Tibet may have been like the Shinto of Japan. Mountain deities, invisible spirits dwelling in lakes and forest are very much the part of Tibetan Bon tradition as it is of Shinto in Japan. Appeasing the deities residing in these natural settings, and purifying the environment by means of sangsol [burning of incenses and aromatic leaves] and sacred waters are the concept shared by the Bon and Shinto cultures.

[Bon Menriling Monastery in Dolanji, Solan]

But Bon religion has an established doctrinal teachings and scriptures, today it is at par with Buddhism in depth and profundity. Bon and Buddhism co-existed to shape the Tibetan culture. Native twenty-one mountain deities of Gengyen nyishu-tsachig are equally deified in Tibetan Bon and Buddhist pantheons.

However, unlike Bon religion, which faced certain forms of castigation from the victorious foreign religious clergy and the new society, Shinto is said to have got along well in harmony with the new religion. Just as Shinto is the foundation of Japanese culture, Bon is the basis of Tibetan culture. Distinctiveness of Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism could be well attributed to the rich cultural influence of Bon and Shinto respectively.

Japanese society accepted Buddhism, but they did not relinquish their native religion. Japan adopted the concept of shinbutsu-shugo [co-existence Kamis and Buddhas], in which both Buddhism and Shintoism were practiced simultaneously at large. This was to shape the cultural and religious history of Japan until the advent of Meiji era [1868 – 1912], during which Buddhism and Shintoism were separated, and shinbutsu-bunri [separation of Kamis and Buddhas] policy was adopted. This was done to achieve national unity under a strong single banner of native Shinto values with the Japanese emperor at its center to fight foreign influences.

Buddhism was condemned as superstition and denounced. The fact that some Japanese monks like Kawaguchi Ekai, Tokan Tada etc made perilous journeys to Tibet around that time could be seen as their desperate and determined attempt to revive Buddhism in Japan.

Today, Shinto and Buddhism are equally revered in Japanese society. A Japanese could be Shinto and Buddhist, and at the same time Christian also. When it comes to culture, they speak Shinto; when it is philosophy, they tend to lean on Buddhism; when it is modernity; they flirt with Christianity. It is a common scene to see a young couple marrying at a Church and receiving blessing from a Father. But the same couple will visit Shinto Shrine when a child is born, and observe Shinto festivals. It will not be surprising to find that the family of this couple is a danka [member] of a local Buddhist monastery.

[Entrance gate of Hanazono Jinja Shinto shrine at Shinjuku, Tokyo]

This religious and cultural harmony between Shinto and Buddhism in Japan; and between Bon and Buddhism in Tibet; is something the international community should learn, so that we could all live in harmony and in peace with the compassionate teachings of our respective masters to help achieve peace, prosperity and enlightenment for all the sentient beings in this universe.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rites at Japanese Shinto Shrine

[A Shrine alter at Sendagaya]

Foreigners visiting Japan are greatly impressed with Japanese Shinto rites and culture. Shinto is the native religion of Japan, and foundation of Japanese culture. Visiting a Jinja, a Shinto shrine may be one of the many choices to experience and to get the feel of Japanese culture.

Meijijingu is one of the best-known Japanese shrines in Tokyo. This shrine was dedicated to the Emperor Meiji [1867-1912] and Empress Shoken by the Japanese government. A large number of Japanese and foreigners visit this great shrine every year.

Foreigners are often confused about the Shinto and how prayer offerings are made at these Shrines. Here is what little I knew and learnt from my Japanese friends.

[Torinomon of Meijijingu]

Most of the Japanese omatsuri [festivals] are associated with Shinto kamis and belief. Kamis are gods or semi/demi gods in Shinto belief. People go to Jinja to make request, and for yaku barai [cleansing of bad omen]. These Jinjas are mostly built at secluded places inspiring the presence of natural grace and beauty with trees, rocks and ponds. A gateway to Jinja is a torii nomon, a wooden gate erected at the entrance of a Jinja. Once you are inside the torii, you are in the sacred realm of kamis. You are supposed to walk at the side of the path to leave the middle for kamis.

[Chozuya, where misogi is to be done]

Before visiting the main Shrine for prayers, you need to do misogi [water purification or ablution]. You will find a free-flowing water-shed known as chozuya with a few bamboo ladles. Picking up a ladle with right hand, you wash your left hand and vice versa. Then with the ladle in your right hand pour water in your left hand and rinse your mouth. After this raise the head of the ladle so that the remaining water in the ladle flows on the handle as if to wash it. Restore the ladle to its original place. This is misogi rite; how you clean yourself before appearing in front of the Kamis of the shrine.

Once before the main shrine, you pull the dangling rope above the offering box to sound the bell-like-signal at the top to inform your presence. Standing solemnly before the shrine, you take two deep bows, then bring your both hands closed before your chest, and make two hand-clap followed by one deep final bow. They say it "ni-rei, ni-haku, ichi-rei" [two bows, two claps and one bow]. Number of bows and hand-clap may differ in some situation, but this the generally accepted ritual. Your time to pray or make request is one before and after the hand-clap.

As a standard form of prayer – "harai-tamai, kiyome-tamai, mamori-tamai, sakiwai-tamai" is silently recited in heart. Meaning of this recitation is – sweep and clean me of the impurity of sins, protect me from evils, and let everyone prosper.

[A bride & bridegroom being led by a Shinto priest]

You can buy protection talisman or amulet called omamori from the counter, you can have amulet for house protection, safe driving, obstacle clearance, good result in exam etc. Then there is Ema, a small votive wooden tablet, where you can write your wishes or prayers, and hang the same at ema stand.

[Ema, a votive tablets with wishes & prayers]

This is how you make your visit to a shrine, and how offering of prayers is made at a Japanese Shinto shrine. If you are lucky, you may come across marriage ceremonies or some local festivals at the Shrine.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Birthday Celebrated

Tokyo, July 2, 2011 Saturday: Tibetans and Japanese celebrated the 76th Birth Anniversary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama today at Hotel Okura in the heart of Tokyo city. Liaison office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan & East Asia organized the event on the day - four days in advance to coincide with a weekend holiday.

The celebration started with the offering of Long-life prayer and Mendrel Tensum, to the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama by Mr. Lhakpa Tshoko, the Representative of Liaison office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan & East Asia, and the Tibetans.

Representative Lhakpa Tshoko in his opening speech welcomed the guests and thanked them for their warm participation in the event. He briefly narrated the contribution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama not only in Tibetan society but also in international arena in promoting human values, peace, justice and democracy. "Because of His leadership and vision, today Tibetan people are moving steadily ahead along with the international community with a system of democratically elected leadership. In this regard, China is still behind us." He said.

Mr. Makino Seishu of Democratic Party of Japan, Chairman of Japan Parliamentarians Group for Tibet, wished His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans for the occasion. He said he was fortunate enough to have a good number of opportunities to be with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and was always impressed and humbled by His unflinching faith in non-violence and human goodness. He said instead of vilifying His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Chinese leadership needs to learn about democracy and harmonious society from His Holiness.

Mr. Makino informed the gatherings that some of the founding members of Japanese Parliamentarians are at the helm of Japan's ruling party. "DPJ wants to maintain good relationship with China, this is important, but we will do our best to have the dream of Tibetans people and vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama realized at the earliest possible." He said.

Representative from Koyasan University, Wakayamaken, who will host the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Japan this year greeted the assembly and highlighted the schedule of the visit. Dr. Nagamine of Okinawa, and Mr. Kondo, Chairman of Osaka Seinen Chamber of Commerce, who hosted His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit last year, briefed the gathering about how His Holiness' visit and His message of peace and harmony stirred the heart of monks and lay people alike in the regions.

Professor Ishihama of Waseda University, spoke on the impact of change in the Tibetan political system with the devolution of secular power by His Holiness the Dalai Lam to a democratically elected popular leadership. She termed this as a turning point in Tibetan history, and extolled the leadership of His Holiness and His vision to make Tibetan issue relevant and living through democratization of Tibetan polity.

As for the entertainment, a Japanese Dra-nyen [tibetan lute] Club, headed by Mr. Toshi Kuga presented a splendid dra-nyen performance, singing a song titled, 'dawai-shonnu' [a young moon]. Ms Naoko and her students of Gagatoto [Happy Joyful] group played dra-nyen and sang 'pangyen metok' song. The delightful performance of the songs by Japanese in Tibetan traditional dress was well received by the audience with thunderous applause and encore request.

Mr. Usui, a professional photographer contributed a mini photo exhibition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Mr. Maeno Hironori, a Japanese Kadoka [florist] and his staff contributed flower arrangement and decoration of the stage. Some noted Tibet supporters have also sent flowers with warm messages for the auspicious occasion.

Around two hundred people attended the celebration, people have come from neighboring prefectures, some people have come all the way from faraway regions like Okinawa, Kyushu, Osaka etc. The celebration concluded with a vote of thanks from Mr. TG Arya of Liaison office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Tibetan community in Japan organized a Tibetan Fashion Show and Momo Party on the day at Joenji, a Japanese temple in Shinjuku city.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cham; The Tibetan Religious Dances

Cham is a sacred dance unique to Tibetan religious culture. It is practiced and performed by the monks of almost all the monasteries of the five major schools of Tibetan religious orders on special auspicious events. Given the scarcity of material on this aspect of Tibetan religious culture, I thought it prudent to share what little I could grasp of cham in Bonpo settlement in Dolanji.

Although, written records are scarce about the origin of cham, the fact that some of these dances involve the manifestation of the ancient mountain gods and goddesses fortify the explanation that the dance has its origin in Bon, the native religion of Tibet. The dances, especially performed during the Year end and the New Year are sacred dance rituals by the deities of the religious order to ward off evils of the year and to bless the people with good health and prosperity in the coming new year.

The masks, costumes, and the movement of the performers may look similar, but it differs among the religious schools. The performers represent the great saints and the guardian deities of the respective schools. These dances are performed during the religious festivals, birth anniversary of the founding teachers, 29th day of the Tibetan yearend, New Year etc.

The dances, however, are not performed or viewed for entertainment purpose; they are revered and observed as an essential annual sacred event where the people and the deities of the land congregate to fortify, and to harmonize the cosmic and spiritual energy between them and the land. Ancient kings have had these sacred dances performed during the enthronement with a purpose of notifying the deities, receiving their blessing, and establishing harmony with the deities of the land to enhance, and to seek legitimacy to their secular authority to rule,(tib:ngathang,wanthang).

In 2009, I was fortunate enough to get a chance to participate in the Cham event of the Menriling Bon monastery in Dolanji. It was performed on 29th day of the 12th Month of Tibetan calendar (tib: nyishu-gu) at the monastery ground. The whole set of dance was known as "Sherab Gucham", Nine dances of wisdom.

People sat around the ground in groups and in families. It was a sunny day with a clear blue sky. In the center was a sangbum (a conical cement structure, where fire is made with the sang materials to purify the environment). Dried junipers, and sang materials (herbs and incenses) was burning inside the sangbum sending cloud of holy aromatic smoke in the sky. With the powerful blare of dungchen, a long brass trumpet, and the intermittent clash of cymbals, the performers dancing to the music of dungchen and cymbals descended majestically from the monastery's staircase to the ground in pairs.

In Sherab gucham, there are ten main performers as follows:

The first to appear from the monastery were Sigyal and Mijig, they were in blue mask. They came one after another. Sipa Gyalmo, mother of the universe, is the main protector deity of Bon religion.

The next came two in red mask, they were Tsenhorpa and Apije. This Tsenhorpa could be Tsengod Hurpa or different, both of them are Bon deities.

The third two in white mask were Gyalpo Nyibang Se and his consort Menmo.

The fourth one in blue mask was Gyalpo Zamnyon, emanation of Zambhala, deity of wealth and prosperity. One in white mask was Gyalpo Shetra, he is said to be the protector deity of Menri monastery.

The fifth two without mask were Dragseng and Targo. Dragpa Senge in a monk-like attire is said to be the emanation of some Kagyu lama in a spirit form. Targo Gegan has a round circular hat (of Shanak type). He is the eldest of the seven brothers of Targo, mountains spirit, popularly known as Targo chedun rog-gye, five brothers and eight comrades of Targo. It is said that the Targo Gegan received his Genyen dhompa (religious ethical vow) from the Lord Shenrab Miwo, the founder of the Bon religion.

After the completion of the main cham dance, Dhogpa, a ritual to expel the evils and to block bad lucks was conducted. This was followed by a Dro, a group dance by the deities to celebrate the victory of good over the evils. I was told that by evils, here we have to understand it as the five mental delusions of ours - attachment, pride, ignorance, anger, and jealousy.

Dro dance is followed by Meri dance, a dance of fire-mountain. The meri dance was done in a crisscrossed way; in fact, an intricate maze of symbolic fire-mountain was woven through dance to confuse the evils from coming back to the region. I was told that when practicing this dance, performers have to dip the sole of their shoes in water, to verify that their dance steps were correct to form the required illustration of fire-mountain.

After the meri-dance, the deities retired to the inner sanctum of the monastery just like the way they came out. The monks, who performed the cham dance had to do shagpa (expatiation, seeking forgiveness) after the ceremony in the monastery. This shagpa is done to expiate to the deities for any disrespect conducted during the ceremony, and to all the sentient beings, who might have been adversely affected because of the ceremony.

Then came the blessing and the Jethag (Je means bad spell, thag means thread or rope)ritual. His Holiness the 33rd Menri Trizin, Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, the Chief spiritual leader of the Bon community blessed the crowd and performed Jethag rites. Two thin strings in red and blue colors were passed to the whole gatherings around the ground, so that everyone was connected through the two strings rolled on their ring fingers. Menri Trizin walked around the gathering and cut the connecting strings, so that the people are left with two strings on their ring fingers. This signifies the release from the Jethag of Lhasin degye [spell-thread of the eight malignant spirits], and the five mental delusions(tib:Nyonmong gi dug nga).

A long queue leading to the Trizin was formed, who stood near the sangbum with a Chabtrue vase with his attendants. The vase contained scared water to cleanse the people of all impurities. People threw their strings in the Lu-basin, Menri Trizin conducted chabtrue ritual, sprinkling of water over the devotees for purification. The lu-basin along with the dhogpa, the people's strings, and the drops of chabtrue water were later thrown far away from the monastery's precinct.

While the monks were performing the shagpa inside the monastery, the general public performed Lhagyal ceremony at the ground. Lhagyal ceremony is a typical Tibetan ceremony done at the end of a religious or social gathering to pray for the victory of good over evils, by offering Tsampa in the air and shouting 'ki ki so so lhagyalo'. This was how Sherab gucham was performed on Feb 23, 2009 at Dolanji.

1.Jadhur Sonam Sangpo, a former Bon deputy to the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
2.Rene de Nebsesky – Wojkowitz, Tibetan Religious Dances, Paljor Publications, New Delhi, 1997

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kalachakra Washington DC 2011

His Holiness the Dalai Lama would be giving his 31st Kalachakra teaching in Washington DC in the month of July. There are people who are in dilemma as to whether they should participate in the teachings or not because of their meager knowledge in the field. To them I say - if you have a pure good motivation, you should do so.

Kalachakra deity, Viswamata [Yabyum]

Brief Introduction to Buddhism and Kalachakra Teachings

It is a common knowledge that all beings, including the small insects, desire happiness and avoid sufferings. In the process of finding true happiness, we are often confronted with sufferings. Lord Buddha taught us to contemplate on the cause of sufferings, so that we can avoid it and uproot it, and achieve eternal happiness – Nirvana and Buddhahood.

According to the Buddhist law of causality and interdependency, what we are right now is because of our past Karma, what we will be in our next life depends on what we do in this life. Negative karma, and deeds born out of our mental delusion are the cause of our sufferings. Therefore, our mental delusion caused by – Ignorance, attachment, pride, anger and jealousy are the main cause of our sufferings.

Lord Buddha taught us the way to overcome this delusion and achieve ultimate peace in the form of enlightenment. The practice involves cultivating the three higher trainings of self-discipline, meditative concentration, and the wisdom understanding emptiness. Buddha's teaching can be interpreted, practiced and understood from two major yanas, vehicles – Hinayana and Mahayana, thegmen and thegchen.

Hinayana, the lesser vehicle is Theravada Buddhism. Here the practitioners practice to overcome the mental delusion and gain insight into the ultimate nature of emptiness to achieve Nirvana for themselves.

Mahayana, the greater vehicle, can be further divided into – Paramitayana and Vajrayana. mDo and bsNags. In Paramitayana, the practitioners, besides practicing what the Hinayanist practice, they cultivate Boddhicitta mind to achieve Buddhahood to help all the sentient beings.

Vajrayana or Tantrayana, is esoteric form of Buddhism. Besides the Sutra practice, it involves Tantra also. The wisdom that realizes the profound emptiness is same in Paramitayana and Vajrayana, differences lies in the methods. Vajrayana adopt methods, which involves practice of deity yoga – meditating on oneself as having an aspect of similar to that of a Form body. This practice is divided into four classes - Kirya, Charya, Yoga and Anuttara Yoga.

Kalachakra teachings belong to the highest yoga tantra class of Anuttara Yoga, where the Kalachakra deity Viswamata is meditated upon and visualized. Buddha taught the Kalachakra tantra at Shri Dhanyakataka, in South India at the behest of Suchandra, the first kalkin of mystical kingdom of Shambhala. The teachings prospered in Shambhala and came back to India and spread to Tibet only around 10th century. From the time of Dro Lotsawa, Buton Rinchen Druppa to Tsongkappa, Kalachakra empowerment was passed on from one Tibetan master to another successively, in this way we have His Holiness the Dalai Lama, one of the lineage holders to this day to give us the teachings.

Tantras are sacred secret teachings usually taught only to a few accomplished practitioners. Kalachakra teachings, although is one of the highest yoga tantra, it is given to a vast congregation of public of all spiritual caliber. According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama,

"Certainly, not everyone who attends will have a sufficient inner basis to receive the full benefits of the initiation, but it is believed that anyone attending with a positive attitude will establish and strengthen positive karmic instincts."

It is said that the merit of participating and receiving Kalachakra teachings differs from person to person according to their level of spiritual understanding and motivation. For accomplished practitioners, this is a chance to receive the full initiation to practice the tantra, for those who have fair understanding of the practice, the teachings present a good opportunity to reconfirm and invigorate their understanding. For those who don't know much about the teachings, it provides a karmic seed to receive and practice the teachings.

In all the above cases, the most important requirement to receive the teachings is the participants' altruistic motivation to benefit whole sentient beings. Therefore, motive behind receiving the teachings should be very pure and magnanimous. As for the world peace, it is to be noted that the power and blessing from the assembly of a great multitude all driven by pure altruistic motivation is bound to influence and generate a conducive force and environment to build a peaceful world without war and violence.

It can also be said that the participations in Kalachakra teachings enables the participants to pray and to sow a karmic seed to get reborn in the mystical land of Shambhala to further their practice of the teachings.


1. The Practice of Kalachakra by Glenn Mullin, Snowlion Publications, 1991
2. Kalachakra Initiations by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama.com 2011
3. The Kalachakra Initiation by D.R. Prodan, 1993

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Buddha by Osamu Tezuka

Last year I came across this manga 'Buddha" by Osamu Tezuka, I found it very interesting and lively. It is also very revealing, it talks about many things about Buddha's life and times, some of which we have not heard and are not usually found in Buddhist literatures. Osamu Tezuka [1928-89] is a well-known Manga writer in Japan; he could not have concocted the story without any reliable background facts to corroborate his story.

The manga became very popular around the world. This year anime-movie 'Osamu Tezuka's Buddha – The Great Departure' directed by Kozo Morishita has also come up. While I found the book interesting, I have not yet seen the movie. But the book tells us many things, though interesting, authenticity of some episodes and characters are doubtful. If it is fiction, then Osamu is not doing justice to the great master and the times, and to the history.

To cite one example, the story tells us of an interesting episode about a woman in Siddhartha's life, and how ultimately Siddhartha parted from her and married with Yashodhara. It was depicted in the manga that around that time, evils of the caste system were at its height. Low caste people were greatly discriminated and oppressed. But these low caste people have grouped themselves and mastered the art of fighting – wrestling, sword, bows, horse riding etc. to fight the injustices. Migaila, a young beautiful woman was one among them. She and Siddhartha were in love.

King Suddhodhana arranged Siddhartha's marriage with Yashodhara from a royal clan. Not wanting to be tied to nuptial noose so early, and to procastinate the marriage, Siddhartha asks his father that a duel should be arranged among the princes and contenders, and the winner should have Yashodhara as his wife. King Suddhodhana, though not very sure of his weakling son, was impressed about his courage to abide by the custom. So, the announcement was made for the duel.

When Migaila heard about this contest, she participates in the duel disguised as a young warrior. She secretly sneaks into the palace and meets Siddhartha, together they make a plan. Adopting various tricks, the plan was to have Migaila and Siddhartha come to the final contest, where Siddhartha will lose to Migaila. Rigging and matching fixing comes in. Everything goes as planned, but at the last phase when she and Siddhartha were feigning contest, her identity gets exposed. When the King comes to know that she and Siddhartha had been courting, he was wild with rage and sentences her to death.

The prince, on hearing that his beloved has received death sentence, he beg his father to spare her life. Suddhodhana agrees on a term that if Siddhartha agree to marry with Yashodhara, Migaila's life will be spared. Siddhartha agree to this term, but he was shocked to hear later that his father has had his men take out the eyes of Migaila and banished her.

Characters like, Chapra, Bandaka, General Budai of Kosala are very interesting. One thing I can tell the readers is that if you start reading the book, it will not let you go off until you have finished the last page. The way Osamu Tezuka tells the story in Manga is something all the cartoonists and storytellers should learn. I hope to see the movie in the near future.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Protest March in Tokyo against the siege of Kirti Monastery in Tibet

Tokyo: [May 22, 2011 Sunday] Around eighty Tibetans and Japanese gathered at Jingudori Park in Tokyo to protest against the siege of Kirti Monastery in Amdo province of Tibet by Chinese army and the injustice that is going on in the region. Student for Free Tibet (SFT) Japan chapter and Tibetan community in Japan organized this protest march on the day to coincide with the visit of the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Tokyo.

President of SFT Japan chapter Mr. Tsering Dorjee welcomed the participants and described the grave situation in Kirti monastic area and the police brutality. He said that the SFT has written to Japan's Foreign ministry on the issue to request the Japanese government to weigh on the Chinese counterpart to deal with the situation peacefully and to release the people arrested unjustly.

Mr. TG Arya of Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama thanked the organizers and the participants for their concern and interest in Tibet issue. He said that this protest march is not to protest the visit of the Chinese Premier, but to draw his attention to the great injustice happening in Tibet in general and Kirti monastery in particular at the moment. While we welcome good relationship between Japan and China for peace and stability in Asia, through this protest march, "we strongly appeal to Premier Wen Jiabao to stop the police brutality and the infamous 'patriotic reeducation' campaign in the monastery, and try to resolve the Tibet issue peacefully." He said.

Ven. Kawahara of Reingein Monastery said that the Japanese public and government should not stay aloof to what is happening in Tibet. Problem in Tibet is not a political issue; it is issue of freedom, justice and morality. As Buddhist practitioners, we all must raise our voice against injustice perpetrated against the monks in Tibet.

Note: The wordings in Japanese on the front banner reads: Wen Jiabao, Stop Oppression in Kirti Monastery in Tibet.

Demonstrators marched through the busy Meijidori street of Shibuya carrying Tibetan flags and raising slogans "Free Tibet, Tibet for Tibetans, We want freedom, Stop Oppression in Kirti Monastery" etc. Being Sunday, the street was full of pedestrians, who showed their support by waving and uttering slogans along with the demonstrators. Some participants have come all the way from faraway regions like, Kyushu, Osaka, Nagano etc. Local police authorities have also arranged good number of security people to ward off any untoward incidents.

Wen Jiabao is in Tokyo to attend the trilateral summit among Japan, China and South Korea on disaster relief and nuclear safety, and other issues relating to trade and commerce in view of the difficulties that Japan is facing due to earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters. Critics say that Chinese Premier will use this summit meeting opportunity to visit the earthquake and tsunami affected areas to gain the goodwill of the Japanese public.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tokyo

[Tibet House Japan] April 29, 2011 Friday

Tokyo: His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with Japanese and foreign media
this afternoon before presiding over a mass prayer at Gokokuji Temple.
His Holiness said that he was deeply saddened that Japan was struck
with three cataclysmic natural disasters one after another –
earthquake, tsunami and threat from the damaged nuclear plant. Japan
being a Buddhist country, images of the Buddhist monasteries and the
Japanese friends came before him and he felt sad, he said. “I am happy
to have this opportunity to be with the people here and share their
sorrow and pray for those who have lost their precious lives.

“But the tragedy has happened; there is no use worrying about it. Just
as Japan has overcome the tragedy of World War II, I’m quite sure the
people of Japan can overcome this tragedy and move forward to rebuild
what has been lost in this disaster. You should not lose heart, you
need to face the reality with determination,” His Holiness said.

When asked about the situation in Tibet and his decision to devolve
his formal responsibilities to the elected Tibetan leadership, His
Holiness said he has been committed to democracy and freedom.
“Political tsunami has been going on in Tibet. Now these days there is
a real danger of Tibetan Buddhist culture being destroyed. Some kind
of cultural genocide is going on in Tibet. Media people should go
there and investigate and see what is happening there.

“Another aspect of Tibetan problem is ecology. Some Chinese ecologists
have said that the high plateau of Tibet is the third pole; global
warming effect on Tibetan plateau is as dangerous as that of North and
South poles. Major Asian rivers originate from Tibet. Lives of million
of people in Asia including China depend on these rivers. This is not
a problem of six million Tibetans!” His Holiness said.

Regarding his decision to relinquish formal responsibilities, he said
that the world belongs to humanity; it does not belong to religious
leaders and governments. “Japan belongs to Japanese people; China
belongs to 1.3 billion Chinese, not to the communist party. Since 2001
we have a directly elected leadership and I was in semi-retirement.
Now, after ten years, I see that with maturity of democracy among
Tibetans in exile, the day has come to handover the political
authority to the people. But this does not mean that I am resigning
from being the Dalai Lama.

“Since the inception of the Dalai Lama institution in the 15th
century, it was a spiritual institution. It was only from the 5th
Dalai Lama onwards that political authority was also assumed by the
Dalai Lamas. Now, the Dalai Lama`s role should be purely spiritual,
and I voluntarily, proudly and happily end this four-century old
leadership” He said.

On Chinese government, His Holiness said that China is the most
populated nation with a long rich history and culture. It has become a
great economy also. Now, if the People`s Republic of China wants to
play more constructive role at international level, trust and respect
is very important. Trying to keep everything as State secret and doing
away with press freedom is harmful to China in the long run. 1.3
billion Chinese people have the right to know the truth, they also
have the ability to judge right from wrong. Distorting information is

His Holiness appreciated Premier Wen Jiabao`s recent comments
including most recently in Malaysia regarding political reform and
democracy and said that he fully supports the Premier`s initiatives.

Following the press briefing, His Holiness presided over the mass
prayer assembly at the Temple where some over four thousand people
have gathered. Mr. Lhakpa Tsohko, Representative at Liaison Office of
His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan & East Asia made a brief
introductory statement on behalf of the organizers.

His Holiness along with the Tibetan monks recited prayers including
Sherab Nyingpo (Heart sutra). Later the Japanese monks and the general
public recited the Japanese version of the Heart Sutra,

Ven. Okamoto, Chief Abbot of the Gokokuji Temple expressed his
happiness over being able to pray for the victims of the recent
disaster with His Holiness. He thanked His Holiness for taking time
out to share the grief and sorrow of the people here. Chief Abbot of
Tsurumi Sotoshu Temple Ven. Eigawa also thanked His Holiness the Dalai
Lama for his prayers and encouragement.

In his public address, His Holiness said that as soon as he heard
about the disaster in Japan, he felt a great urge to be with the
people to console and share their grief, and that he was very happy to
get this opportunity to attend this mass prayer for the people who had
lost their lives and those who had lost their dear ones, and those who
are displaced. He advised the Japanese people to look forward and not
to lose hope. “I am sure you people can do it, you have done this in
the past after World War II. Disasters and difficult times teach us
many valuable lesson, we need to reflect on these.” His Holiness said.

His Holiness`s words were received by many in tears and joy. Many were
seen with folded hands in deep prayers. Many made prostration and many
were seen with Khata, Tibetan scarves.

Ven. Hayashi of Japanese Buddhist Association in his concluding
remarks thanked His Holiness for his time and said that each time His
Holiness visits Japan, people here are greatly inspired and energized.
“Prayers have profound effect and energy; we are greatly honored to
have His Holiness the Dalai Lama preside over this 49th day of
Buddhist formal mourning period. The fact that so many people have
gathered will be a great inspiration to the people in the affected
regions in particular and the Japanese public in general.” He said.

North-Eastern part of Japan was hit by an earthquake of 9.0 Magnitude
on March 11, followed by a strong tsunami which brought great
destruction to the lives and properties in the region. As an aftermath
of the tragedy, nuclear radiation problem is still disturbing Japan.
As of now more than 14,000 people have died, more than 13,000 are
still missing and many are displaced.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Prayers for Earthquake & Tsunami Victims

Tibetans and Japanese Prays for Earthquake and Tsunami Victims
Tibet House Japan [March 19, 2011 Saturday]

Tokyo: Tibetan community in Japan organized a prayer gathering at Gokokuji Temple in Tokyo in which some 60 people participated despite the radiation fear lurking in the city. The prayer gathering was in tandem with the one held in Dharamsala and other monasteries in India for earthquake victims in Japan.

Mr. Tsewang Gyalpo Arya of Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the prayer gathering is for the soul of all those who lost their lives in the disaster, and to pray for those who are still suffering in the region, and for the quick recovery of the situation. "Tibetan people would like to express our sympathy and solidarity with the Japanese people at this difficult period. Japan has been a generous nation in the hour of natural disaster, its time the world repay the debt." He said.

Mr. Lobsang, Chairman of Tibetan community in Japan thanked the participants and led the prayers session along with Ven. Kobayashi. The prayer was done for four hours. Heart Sutra, Sherab nyinpo was recited many times both in Tibetan and Japanese. Gokokuji Temple has arranged the Tibetan and Japanese text of the prayers.

Japanese participants thanked the organizers and individual Tibetans for organizing this prayer gathering. A lady said in tears that she was grateful that His Holiness has performed prayers in Dharamsala for the people who died and are suffering in disaster hit area.

An earthquake of 9.0 magnitude and tsunami attacked North eastern Japan on March 11, in which more than hundred thousand died or are missing, loss of property in said to be great. At the moment the government is trying its best to control the nuclear plants in Fukushima from exploding.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquake & Tsunami Tragedy in Japan

Tokyo: [March 11, 2011 Friday] Around 2:46 pm a strong earthquake shook Tokyo city. Epicenter of the earthquake is believed to be around North east Japan of Miyagi prefecture. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake was followed by major tsunami around the east coast of Japan. The earthquake and the tsunami brought a lot of damage to the lives and properties with more than 1000 confirmed death, and many still missing. Tsunami virtually swallowed a town; many lost their homes and are sheltered in temporary shelters.

The damage in Tokyo city was mild compared to Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. But the earthquake sent the Tokyoite rushing in panic. Office files, equipments, books and the goods in the shelves went haphazard and crashed on the floors. In Shunjuku city of Tokyo, people poured out and crowded at Shinjuku Gyoen Park for safety from where the people watched in horror the skyscrapers in pendulum motion. All train service came to a halt, people crowded for bus and taxi. Roads were jammed, telephone and mobiles stopped working. The streets were full of people trying to find their way out to their homes. Many had to walk for more than four to five hours to home.

Overall damage to the nation is great, fires destroyed dwellings and properties. Many are rendered homeless. The government has confirmed the safety of its nuclear stations, and is doing its best to rehabilitate the people and bring normalcy. Starting from United States, many countries have promised relief fund and services. Japan has been a generous nation when ever natural disasters occurs around the world, it is now time for the world to repay the gratitude, especially the country who has been receiving Japanese ODA despite being the world second largest economy.

This is said to be the highest earthquake magnitude ever recorded. 1923 Kanto earthquake recorded 8.3 magnitude with 143,000 people's death, and 1996 Kobe earthquake with 7.2 magnitude in which 6,400 people died. While it may be a proud moment for the Japanese building technocrats that the skyscrapers of world height withstood such magnitude, it is equally a great message to the humanity about the lurking natural disasters to convey the precariousness of human existence despite scientific progress.

Tibetan 10th March uprising anniversary was observed on the day [Thursday] at two places in Tokyo at Joenji Temple and Nihonbashi. Japanese monks for Tibet and M/s Open Sense organized the events respectively. The main event scheduled on 13th March by Tibetan Community and the Japanese Support groups to conduct peace march in the city, and Students for Free Tibet's plan to demonstrate before Chinese embassy had to be cancelled because of the earthquake tragedy. As of now, no report has come about Tibetans being affected by the tragedy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blood Notes of Theurang

Tashi Rapten is among the many Tibetan poets, writers and intellectuals arrested by the Chinese authorities since the brutal crackdown of Tibetan uprising throughout Tibet in 2008. But little is known on what charges and why he has been arrested and for how long.

The young man who was to graduate last year compiled some of his poems, notes and writings in one book, Trag-yig in Tibetan [Written in Blood] under the pen name of Theurang. The poetry and the essay works give an in-depth understanding of Tibetans' feeling and why they are against the Chinese regime.

The note is divided into five chapters, first four chapters are written in form of poetry. The last one, which has six sections including the conclusion, forms the main writing in essay style. The first chapter in the poetry section, 'Monologue in hell', he compares the prisons in Tibet to a region of hell, and how the people in these hell are left speaking with themselves about the hope and their aspiration in monologue and wondering what was their crime. How the people in the dark cells of prisons believe the ultimate visit of the rays of Sun light to usher the days of freedom and equality and to dispel the ignorance of the conqueror. Song of the soul and My Tibet in poetry chapter equally makes an incisive understanding of the poet's mind.

In the essay section,"Denpai Tugsher" [Trail of the truth], the author tells us about the truth behind the violence in March 2008, and who was responsible for this bloody incident. How Chinese authorities fabricated violence and blamed everything to the Dalai Lama. It discusses Olympic and how the Beijing Olympics brought repression in Tibet. It also dwells on the earthquake in the region and how it was handled actually and how it was broadcasted in media. The author has written about how Tibetan language is undermined, and how the security personal forces false confession from the students.

The book is an open testimony of a young Tibetan of what is going on in Tibet. His sentences and statements often end in question marks leaving the readers and the Chinese authorities to reflect on. In fact, the Chinese government should laud him for bringing these policy failure and misdemeanors in public, and make effort to rectify the policy if the leadership is really serious about the so-called policy of "harmonious society".

We don't know under what condition Tashi Rapten is in right now, but we commend him for his courage to challenge the repressive regime bent on destroying Tibetan nationality. If democracy, freedom and human rights is to triumph in this world, International community should raise voice for people like Tashi Rapten and others who are still languishing in prisons.

Following is the opening notes of the author in his book, Trag-yig [Written in blood]

Lhasa of the first half of March 2008 was not the peaceful and serene abode of non-violence and the heavenly Tibetan city that many have known. It was a bloody land full for corpses and infernos, inundated with gunfires and military contingents.

On that day, the people of Tibet who had silently swallowed their tears and sorrow for decades rose peacefully for Human rights and hit the gongs of the truth to assert their rights to life. On that day, humble people who had for more than five decades kowtowed to the dictates of tyrants and despots stood before the gunfires and shackles to raise the long cherished flag of democracy and equality. On that day, the people gave a clear message that from the depth of their heart they could no longer tolerate the oppression and invasion of the infamous rotten regime known for brutality and for deriding the nation's constitution.

On that day, who was the one who brought with force the frightful tragedy of 1958 once again on the humble populace's head? On that day, who staged deceit and false accusation and played with the lives of the brethrens of this land of snow and turned this fatherland into a bloody land? On that day, who shook and disturbed not only the lives of all beings but also the rivers, mountains and forest?

On that day, how humble and innocent the lives of each spirit representing truth and justice stood before the sound of bullets and horse lash, blood and dead bodies, armies and arms?

That day in March was much bloodier than anyone could dream of. That day was the historic day of March when each brave man and woman hoisted the flag of truth on the backbone of a nation's history. That day was..............

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jasmine sent Chinese leaders in Panic

Jasmine is a name of a white flower, known for its fragrances and flavor. It grows in the high altitude Tibetan plateau also. It is called Metok Kunda. Tibetan uses the jasmine as a part of incense and herbal medicine ingredients. But Jasmine grows in hot Arab nation like Tunisia too, where it is the national flower. Tunisian people recently rose against the long time dictatorship regime and won democracy, this came to be known as "Jasmine Revolution".

Because of this popular uprising, the word 'jasmine' has become taboo in China. Chinese authorities have blocked the word in Internet. People are forbidden to utter the word. It is said that the florists in Chinese cities are having problem because selling and purchase of Jasmine flower is also banned. When someone ordered for a jasmine tea, all eyes were on him. A 25-year old boy was arrested for having placed a white flower near a McDonnell restaurant. Anyone with anything to do with a white flower is arrested.

China is now the world's second largest economy, its military spending is said to be the highest, but the Chinese leaders panicking like a horde of frightened mice on hearing a name of a simple flower? What does this make of China's image?

How much the authority try to squelch the people's aspiration, some day it has to learn the hard truth that power doesn't always come from the barrel of a gun. It comes from people; it comes from a simple flower like jasmine.

Runggye Adak: A Message that China failed to read

Runggye Adak, a Tibetan nomad of Lithang area is still in Chinese prison serving his eight-year sentences issued by Chinese authorities for "provocation to subvert state power". His only crime was that on 1 August 2007, he is said to have said, 'If we cannot invite the Dalai Lama home, we will not have freedom of religion and happiness in Tibet", before a gathering at the annual horse festival in the region. He also called for the release of Panchen Lama and Tulku Tenzin Delek.
The Chinese security people immediately arrested him and his friends and put them behind the bar. Chinese media reported the incident as a "major political incident" and said that he was shouting for "Tibetan independence".
This is how most of the people's grievances end up in Tibet. China is too paranoid to properly address the issue and to understand what the Tibetans are really asking for. Any voice, irrespective of its contents from the Tibetans is seen as opposition to the regime and subversive. Therefore, China has never understood the Tibetans all these years. This is one of the major causes of Chinese policy failure in Tibet.
Runggye Adak is a simple Tibetan nomad. From his statement it is very clear what the Tibetans are looking for "freedom of religion and happiness". As China has denied the Tibetans of these two necessities throughout its brutal rule, people like Runggye Adak are inclined to believe that coming of Dalai Lama to Tibet would bring religious freedom and happiness.
In his statement during the interrogation, he said that he wants Dalai Lama to come to Tibet so that he can speak out his grievances. As simple as this, this shows the extent of repressed emotion and psychology of the people. Tibetans need to be heard and cared. If the Chinese leadership is serious about peace and stability in the region, they should reexamine their policy and listen and respect the voice of people like Runggye Adak seriously. One good thing that the leadership could do now is to release him and ask for his forgiveness.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

This is how China rules Tibet

Chinese government in the name of development has continued mining and baring the Tibetan mountains. Minerals extracted were transported to the mainland. Any protest against these rampant mining are brutally suppressed. Last November, when the Tibetans in Shethongmon county of Shigatse protested against the mining project in the region, they were brutally mishandled and arrested.

The region was filled with Chinese armed personal and trucks. Is this how the Chinese authority thinks could bring peace and stability in the region? Its high time the communist leaders learn something from what is going on in Tunisia and Egypt!!

A Chinese security man with an electric baton intimidating the Tibetan protestors.


Friday, January 28, 2011

China wants to double Tibet tourism by 2015

Chinese state media has on 13 January said that the government is eyeing for 15 million visitors a year to Tibet by 2015. The government estimate that it will more than double the income from tourism by around 16 billion Yuan ($2.42 billion) a year thereby creating more than 300,000 jobs. Xinhua further goes onto claim that Tibet's economy has grown more quickly than the rest of China. This was attributed to the completion of a railway line to the Tibetan capital Lhasa, and large mining projects.

Chinese government says it is trying to bring development to a poor and backward region, including new transport links in the form of roads, railways and airports. And the government said that it wanted, "all the people of Tibet to get rich from tourism."

Above portrayal and the citation looks grand and encouraging, but in reality it is nothing more than the communist leadership's another conspiracy to mislead the world into believing that all is well in Tibet and the government is doing its best to boost Tibetan economy and livelihood. China had persistently claimed that Tibetans in Tibet are happy and contended with the development Chinese has brought in, and that it is only a few separatists who are instigating trouble in the region.

Before we take in the Chinese announcement seriously, we need to carefully brood over what they really meant by development in Tibet. If the Chinese leaders are serious about promoting tourism and uplifting the Tibetan economy, it needs to address the grievances of the Tibetans in the region first. Are the Tibetan really meant to benefit from the plan; who will get these 300,000 jobs?

Recent trend in Tibet is that Tibetan tour guides and operators are slowly being displaced by the new arrivals from China. Government does not want Tibetan guides and tour operators who are conversant about Tibetan history and culture and are willing to tell the world about what communism has done to Tibet.

In order to curb this problem and to create jobs for the Chinese migrants, the Chinese government introduced a system in which all the tour guides and operators are required to get license. To acquire the license, applicants are screened and are required to appear for written test and interview. Now, the government has come up with a book on Tibet based on Chinese interpretation of Tibetan history. It is written in Chinese language. Applicants are required to study this book and answer accordingly. This written test and interview is also conducted in Chinese language. Is this the way how the communist government plans to benefit the Tibetans?

Many young Tibetans gave up because they don't want to parrot the Chinese version of Tibetan history, many don't read and write Chinese, and those who read and write Chinese could not compete with Chinese migrants whose mother tongue is Chinese. With these kinds of ingenious but cruel policies the communist government has been marginalizing the Tibetans and encouraging Han Chinese migration. So, all these talks about jobs doesn't concern the Tibetans, the communist government already has in mind for whom the jobs are for.

Since March 2008 uprising, the Tibetans have been put under strict surveillance and only guided tours under strict screenings have been allowed. The government has still not recovered from the 2008 paranoia, Tibetans are still being viewed with suspicions and arrested arbitrarily. Lately, Tibetan intellectuals and artists have been targeted and many are languishing in prisons. Common people have been intimidated and warned against contacting or talking with foreigners. One of my foreign friends who had visited Tibet several times said that he was gripped with fear and surprise when a cheerful Tibetan vendor with whom he has befriended during his earlier visits has become reserved and refused to recognize him last year.

Communist government has unleashed an atmosphere of fear and terror on the Tibetan plateau. There are more security personals and army in the street than civilian folks. Is the communist government really thinking of welcoming 15 millions visitors? If the communist government is confident about this, then it means that in these intervening years, they have successfully and brutally tamed the Tibetans to turn the Tibetan plateau into the first and the largest living human and cultural zoo for the world to see.

Is this what the communist government meant by "making people of Tibet rich from tourism."?

Marginalizing the Tibetans, encouraging Han Chinese migration into Tibet, compulsory imposition of Chinese language in schools and workplaces, exploitation of Tibetan natural resources, making Tibetan culture a showpiece, sinocizing Tibetan way of life, if these are what Chinese meant by developments, Tibetans don't want these developments.

Next time, Beijing plan about development activity in Tibet, they must consult the Tibetans in the region and should seriously and sincerely think about benefiting the Tibetans and their overall livelihood.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hu Jinato in US

Hu Jintao during his interview in United States pretended he didn't hear properly when asked about human rights issue in China. He was not bluffing, actually the word 'human rights' is not in his vocabulary. So, he didn't understand what Obama was talking about. Funny!!

Any how, when asked for the second time, Hu dodged the question on human rights by implying that China is big and has a large population and it is developing. Now, if the size and the population is obstacle, why doesn't China give Tibet, Uigyur, Inner Mongolia and other minorities their rightful freedom, and let them live in peace.

Chinese communist leaders' obstinate greed to rule China indefinitely has made the colonization of Tibet and others necessary to justify its iron rule. Chinese people are ingeniously used by the communist leaders by inciting patriotism to divert the people's attention from more pressing issues. Therefore, the Chinese people are always at the mercy of communist propaganda.

President Obama should be commended for his clear message to the Chinese leader on human rights issue and for urging Hu to talk with Dalai Lama's representative to resolve Tibet issue. He talked about American concept of universality of human rights and freedom, thus making a point that US will not compromise on human rights issue.

With this visit to US, the land of freedom and justice, let us hope the Chinese leader will give her people their share of universal rights. This Hu Jintao can do before he retires from the helm of authoritative power next year. With continued suppression of Chinese and the people of minority communities and deprivation of their human rights, Hu Jintao will only be reserving his seat in the list of oppressors and dictators, who are scorned as the enemies of the civilization in human history. President Hu still has time to choose whether he wants to be remembered as an oppressor or a liberator in the world history