New Delhi: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen headed
mentor group, spearheading the revival of the ancient Nalanda
University, today played down omission of the Dalai Lama from
the international project, saying religious studies could be
imparted without involvement of religious leaders.
"He (The Dalai Lama) is heading a religion. Being
religiously active may not be the same as (being) an
appropriate person for religious studies," Prof Sen told
"There is a distinction between religion and divinity
school," Sen said to a question on why the exiled Tibetan
spiritual leader was not associated with the project to
resurrect the ancient seat of Buddhist learning in Bihar. The
University was founded in the fifth century.
Questions have been raised in the country as to why the
75-year-old temporal head of Tibetans was kept out of the
Dalai Lama is seen as one of the greatest exponents of
Buddhism’s Nalanda tradition. It was the Tibetan Buddhists,
like the Dalai Lama, who kept the "Nalanda tradition" and the
teachings of Buddhism’s Mahayana sect alive after the burning
of the university in the 12th century by invaders.
The views of Sen assume significance against the
backdrop of reports that the omission of the Dalai Lama was
keeping in view "China`s sensibilities".
The university is being revived under an international
initiative spearheaded by the East Asia Summit, a bloc of
which India is a member along with China and 14 other nations.
Buddhist teachings will be an integral part of its curriculum.
The Ministry of External Affairs is actively involved in
the one billion dollar project. The MEA has already finalised
the Nalanda University Bill, which is expected to be
introduced in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament.
The mentor group, which will draft the regulations, will
be the university’s interim governing body till the
member-countries of the East Asia Summit nominate board
The international university will be an autonomous
institution with the Nalanda seal--kept in a museum in Bihar’s
Nalanda--as its emblem.