Beijing: As suicides continued unabated in Tibet, China for the first time pressed Panchen Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist monk being groomed to counter the Dalai Lama's influence, to campaign against the self immolations, especially among young monks.
22-year-old 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, who was appointed in 1995 by China replacing his Dalai Lama appointed "predecessor" Choekyi Galtsen at the age of six in a controversial circumstances, began taking active role in the recent months with high-profile publicity from the state-owned media.
Mostly based in Beijing, the young Lama, who is also the Vice President of Buddhist Association and nominated member of the Chinese People's Consultative Conference, for the first time stepped out of main land China in April this year and attended a Buddhist conference in Hong Kong.
Since last week he is touring Lhasa, the provincial capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, making high-profile visits to Buddhist temples and monasteries and urging monks to safeguard China's interests and work for social stability.
Described by China's official Xinhua news agency as "a spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism", the young Lama Thursday visited the Tibet Buddhist Theological Institute in Lhasa and called on monks to "love their country and abide by laws".
Opened in October 2011, the institute hosts 150 students including monks from various Tibetan Buddhist sects.
After performing the rituals, Panchen Lama, regarded as the second most highest monk after the Dalai Lama, asked students to abide by national laws and better serve the country and its people.
"I hope you can make good use of the sound learning conditions that the institute provides to learn the essence of Buddhism and safeguard our country and serve its people, so as to be true Buddhists," he said.
In his meeting with local leader on July 24, the Lama said it is both the "basics" and responsibility for a religious person to help people do good deeds, and promote harmony and social development by religious preaching.
"And religious people should abide by the laws and religious code of conduct themselves," he said, apparently referring to the recurring suicides which the Chinese government assert goes against the basic tenets of Buddhism and criticises the Dalai Lama for not condemning them.
His comments were made in the back drop of 44 self immolations by monks and other Tibetans in different parts of Tibet but mostly in Abba county in Sichuan province.
The suicides were stated to be aimed at protesting high security as well as to demand the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
First Published: Saturday, July 28, 2012, 14:24