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Buddhism   blooms   in  Little  Lhasa
Krishna Kumar V.R

His Holiness the Dalai Lama “Indians are outnumbered on the Indian turf,” says Milred, Christian, journalist in the United States, among a few Indians, along with hundreds of  foreigners from world over, while waiting outside His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s palace,in the warmth of forenoon sun, to seek his blessings.

McLeod Ganj popularly know as “The Little Lhasa in India” is a pilgrimage of sort for foreign tourists who visit India. During last one decade the inflow of foreign tourists has multipuled . Charismatic personality, the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism are the main attraction.

Worldwide image of Tibetan Buddhism and their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama differs from country to country, and people to people. “I am giving the same respect to Dalai Lama, which I do to John Pope,” says Brain, 23, an agnostic, chemical engineering student from Canada. “I heard a lot about him, he is a pleasing and nice personality, that’s why I want to meet him,” he adds.

  Some consider His Holiness as an incarnation of Buddha. “He is one among those, that God sends to his garden to look after for a while,” says Abraham, an Israeli, who has been staying in McLeod Ganj for the last six months to see His Holiness, as well as to learn about Buddhism. “One should see him and listen to what is he saying,” he adds.

Buddhism brings devotees to Dalai Lama's doorstep Some are here out of curiosity  to meet a popular person. “I have seen him in the newspapers and television, so I thought I would meet him,” says Ajit Banerji, from Calcutta.

Many have been staying over a year to seek blessings of the Tibetan Buddhist leader, along with their families in the near-by places. Some are even interested in converting to Buddhism. “I was attracted by Buddhism and His Holiness before coming to this place,” says Albret, 38, an Austrian staying with his family in a rented house near this little town. “ I used  to read a lot about Tibetan Buddhism and other matters of Tibet,” he adds.

 Most of them approach Tibetan Buddhism religiously while others are here to add something new to their education. Lurgung Ping, 34, a research scholar in religious studies from Japan  says,  “I am a Buddhist, even though Tibetan Buddhism and their rituals are entirely different from ours. It is something new to my knowledge and  I am glad to learn it.”

To promote Tibetan Buddhism, there are many short-term meditation camps (vipassana course) organized by Tibetan Buddhist organisations here. You see more foreigners than indians in these camps. “There are so many things to learn from Buddhism,” says Jitender Kaushik, a journalist from Chandigarh, among a few Indians attending one such meditation camp. “Buddhism covers entire spectrum of life, from culture to agriculture,” he adds.  “What is not there in Buddhism, Christanity has only Bible,” he asserts.

Tibetan government-in-exile has also joined in bandwagon along with other organizations to encourage Tibetan Buddhism. They hold classes in Buddhist Philosophy at Tibetan Library. They even provide free lodging to those    visiting this place to learn Buddhism. “We are providing all sorts of comforts for those who are coming here to learn Buddhism,” says  KarmaGelek, an official in Buddhist monastery, where hundreds of foreigners are staying.

One can see the promotional aspect of Tibetan Buddhism in the marketing of printed T-Shirts and other house-hold matters related to Buddhist teaching and philosophy; available at cheap prices in the bazaar of this little town.

 After His Holiness got noble prize for peace in 1989, most travelers shifted attention towards McLeod Ganj; and the queues of spirituality seekers have been increasing!


November 2001

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