Fri Apr 4th, 2008 at 06:36:13 AM EST
Despite stern warning from Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee to Dalai Lama not to indulge in political activities on Indian soil Delhi's elite was spellbound by this Buddhist monk when he recently visited Indian capital to participate in workshop. Many privately went up to his room on 6th floor of run-down government hotel Ashoka to seek his blessings and some shared their feelings in press. Let's see what they say.
The first article I read was of Vinod Mehta, highly influential editor in chief of Outlook, weekly magazine, he is journalist of leftist-liberal views who promoted Arundhati Roy and Medha Patkar to international stardom and was not particularly known by proximity to religious leaders.
Yet look what he writes about his meeting:
Holy men put me off because they surround themselves with much pseudo-piety. This fugitive monk, arguably the closest thing to Him on our planet, greets you with a beaming smile, folded hands, wearing badly-stitched robes. There is no necklace round his neck, no mysterious beads on his forearms, no vibhuti on his forehead, no colourful garlands embrace his neck, no glittering rings adorn his fingers. More: there is no incense burning in his spartan but spacious hotel suite, no devotional music in the background. His Holiness, sitting cross-legged on the sofa, looks and sounds refreshingly commonplace with a pronounced weakness for jests...
This 72-year-old celebrity priest has the innocence and enthusiasms of a four-year-old child. As he relates the brutal tales of "cultural genocide" in Tibet, he remains, miraculously, unemotional, devoid of bitterness or desire for revenge. I hope I am not trivialising my conversations because we were discussing matters of life and death and unspeakable violence by the Chinese. However, throughout my 90-minute chat with Tibet's supreme leader, I was constantly made aware that I was talking not to a religious-political saint fighting for basic civil rights for his people but to an ordinary human being simultaneously burdened by divine status and a Nelson Mandela-like mission.
As I get up to leave, I instinctively touch his feet (message for Rupert Murdoch: no, he doesn't wear Gucci loafers) not because I believe he is the 'son of God' but because he has goodness written all over him.
Another man was Abhishek Singhvi, MP and spokesperson of the ruling party Congress. He went to meet Dalai lama on request of his wife but left wonderstruck as Vinod Mehta:
Recently, for the first time, I met the Dalai Lama. To be correct, it was the first one-on-one meeting, with only my wife accompanying me. Our earlier meetings -- mostly at conferences or functions -- never went beyond a casual exchange of pleasantries.
...The first thing that struck me was a child-like simplicity in his eyes, in the way he listened and spoke. Everything he said and did came from the heart. There was no premeditated strategy, no glib talk, no posturing and no flamboyance. Ours was a private visit with no agenda, we only wanted to be blessed by his noble presence.
It was evident the Dalai Lama's soul is steeped in spirituality and austerity is a way of life for him. His entire being radiates benevolence, compassion and equilibrium. In that sense, he truly exemplifies Buddha's teachings and way of life. To be always in sync, in harmony and never to take or allow his followers to take extreme positions is his sincere conviction and continuous effort. Sometimes onlookers feel frustrated with his steadfast insistence on non-violence and even deem his stand counterproductive given the nature of the adversary. But the Dalai Lama believes and practises Gandhian non-violence and Buddhist equanimity. He is truly a unique apostle of peace in an era of strife and hegemony.
I never met Dalai lama only I saw him many times when his cortege pass by narrow streets of Mc Leod Ganj or in his temple when he is passing small courtyard on the way to main temple where he gives lessons but not disappointed because I met so many wonderful people in exile Tibetan community, both monks and laymen. Just one example - recently when I was travelling in Eastern India with a group of students and professor of Hindi from Moscow we came to Karmapa-lama residence. Policemen of course did not allow us inside but I asked to meet his secretary and when his secretary Wangyal came he was so glad to see me and my companions that immediately asked policemen to allow us inside to see His Holiness beautiful home inside manicured garden and with stunning vistas over deep valleys and high mountains. My companions thought Wangyal is my close friend because they were surprised by his kindness, while in fact he is not, it's just his nature. He just values every minute of interaction with all people around as though not so many minutes left.