‘Call To Preserve Tibetan Culture’
by Kalpana Sharma
(The Hindu. March 13, 2000)
Dalai Lama inaugurating the festival in Bombay.
Reshma Piramal and Mukesh Ambani next to him
A packed house of Mumbai's citizens listened in rapt attention
to the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, as he opened a week-long
Festival of Tibet here on Sunday.
Organised by the Tibetan Youth Congress and Friends of Tibet, India,
the festival would showcase the art, dance, crafts and religion
Speaking with characteristic simplicity, the Dalai Lama talked about
the relevance of preserving the ancient but endangered Tibetan
culture. 'In the last one year, the situation in my own country
is very serious, very sad,' he said. 'Whether intentionally,
or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking
place. Therefore, we, the refugee community, have to preserve this
rich and ancient culture.' He said he appreciated the support to
Tibetans from Indian people in this endeavour.
Tibetan culture had synthesised many different cultures, he said
and described the choices Tibetans faced as they stood on 'the roof
of the world'.
Tibetan medicine, too, synthesised many different systems including
Ayurveda, Chinese traditional medicine and Unani medicine.
The Dalai Lama dwelt at length on the issue of compassion. 'I
believe that Tibetan spirituality, its unique cultural heritage,
is very much based on compassion. We can describe Tibetan culture
as the culture of peace.'
Drawing a distinction between culture and religion, he said
the former related to society while religion related to the
individual. As an example he spoke of Tibetan Muslims, who spoke
the Tibetan language and followed its cultural practices.