New Delhi: With centuries of tradition
behind them, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama believes
young Indians should be playing a more active role in
preserving their ethos of non-violence and propagating it to
the outside world.
Praising India`s democratic traditions, the Dalai Lama
said it was India which introduced him to the true meaning of
democracy and young Indians should do everything to keep alive
their rich traditions developed over thousands of years
through overlapping of cultures.
"On non-violence and spirituality I have nothing to
say to Indians, you already know these things for at least the
last 2000 modern years," he told a gathering here at a
discussion on `non-violence and spirituality in India` as part
of a series of events at the Nehru Memorial Museum to mark the
birth centenary of former president R Venkataraman.
"But to the younger generation of Indians, who have a
lot of interest in technology and science, I feel it is
worthwhile to remind them of their traditions, I would say
develop your country and also maintain these traditions," he
Recalling his meetings with India`s first Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru, the spiritual guru said he found the fact
that he could disagree with him without annoying him a
testament to the tradition of healthy criticism in India.
"At a meeting with Nehru in Delhi (way back in 1950s), we
disagreed on some issue at some point... after that when I met
him I was a little scared but I found him completely normal,"
he said, recalling the time.
"I thought in China, leaders were not like that, I have
learnt this dealing with the Chinese leadership for nine
years. Gen Mao (Zedong) though was an exception, but I later
found his words were not reflected in reality or implemented
on the ground," he said.
The Dalai Lama quoted BJP leader LK Advani as telling
him once that the success of democratic practice in India was
the existence of a thousand year of tradition of criticism.
"So for thousands of years this country has developed
different views and (imbibed) in its existing philosophies
those of Buddhism, Islam Christianity and later Sikhism... at
grassroots this tradition is centuries old and that is the
real strength of India," he said.
Calling himself a "messenger of India`s ancient
thought" and describing his relationship with India as that of
a "chela and guru", he said Indians should take an active role
in taking the message of non-violence inherent in their
tradition to the world on a human level.
He also took a potshot at the rampant prevalence of
corruption in India, saying though many Indians practice
religion in ritual, they often don`t practice it in lives.
"In this country most people practice religion, they
would recite shlokas (and pay respects to idols), but whenever
they find opportunity they also take to corruption, when in
reality true followers of religion have to be honest," he
The Tibetan spiritual leader also asked young Indians
to pay greater attention to eradicating the ills of their
society -- "like the caste system, the dowry system and other
discriminations that are prevalent in your society".
Noting that all major Indian rivers originate from the
Himalayan glacier region, the Dalai Lama said the country
should also play a role in raising concerns on the ecological
degradation of the Tibetan plateau which is a very sensitive
"I am convinced with every major disaster, that things
are turning bad due to global warming. The Tibetan plateau
region is ecologically very sensitive and major rivers in
north India flow from the Himalayan glaciers in the region.
"You, therefore, have reason to show concerns about
the ecology of that region," he said, pointing out that the
administration of China too has in recent years become
sensitive to the ecological conditions of the region.
He said while India might be behind China as far as
economic progress in concerned, India has rich values of
democracy and freedom which place it in a better position to
play a positive and effective role in the world.
Talking about his visit to Bihar last year, the Dalai
Lama also recalled his meeting with Chief Minister Nitish
"At the function, he (Kumar) said it is through
Buddha`s blessings that the state is now prospering, but I
said Buddha`s blessings work only through an able CM`s hand
and karma," he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Water Resources
and Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid, wondered how secularism
has often comes under a cloud in a country that has centuries
of culture of tolerance.
"When secularism is such a part of our ethos one
wonders why it often comes under the cloud in our country. It
is our good fortune that our religious leaders have taken the
lead in educating people, but their work is not powerful
enough to prevent us politicians from bringing the idea of
secularism under the cloud," he said.
Meanwhile, speaking on the subject NCP leader P A
Sangma, joked about cricket fever going pitch high in a
country which faces a number of problems in society and
"In spite of all our problems, India continues to be a
spiritual country... In the middle east, people are on the
streets but in India despite 2G, despite CWG and Swiss banks
we are enjoying cricket, but how long can this tolerance
persist is the question, we politicians have to wake up," he