Join our Mailing List

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Analysing Chinese obsession over "son of India"

February 8, 2010

By Dhundup
Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)
February 6, 2010

There is a saying that with great power comes
great responsibility. However, as far as China is
concerned, their recent behaviors have exhibited
only their lack of maturity and excessive hubris
of a wannabe superpower. As China seeks to
exploit the maximum leverage out of its newfound
economic and political clout, it is also candidly
clear that the country is besotted with a motley
assortment of deeply embedded insecurities.

The author of China's Trapped Transition, Minxin
Pei, cited as his favorite sign of this
insecurity the huge market for conspiracy
theories in China, for he believed that "if you
are really secure, you don't dabble in conspiracy
theories". For instance, China has aggressively
peddled the theory that the recent mass upheavals
in Tibet and Xinjiang were actually products of
foreign machinations. "I am not talking about the
man on the street. I'm talking about quite
well-educated people, very serious people, who
believe in this kind of conspiracy theories," said Minxin Pei.

Since in the free world these wild theories would
be dismissed easily with contempt and ridicule,
more often than not, they are in fact exclusively
targeted for domestic consumption. They are meant
to serve as rabble-rousers, to stir up
nationalist sentiments of the Chinese people by
regurgitating the same old stories of foreign
powers acting in cahoots with the domestic
dissidents and separatists to scuttle the
long-awaited rise of China as the new superpower of the world.

The catalogue of conspiracy theories about His
Holiness the Dalai Lama is currently topped by a
newfound fear that His Holiness might actually be
seeking Indian citizenship. A brief analysis of
the sheer absurdity of arguments propping up this
idea, underlined in the article titled "A look at
the Dalai Lama's ridiculous Indian heart", is discussed hereafter in detail:

"A look at the Dalai Lama's ridiculous Indian heart
Source: China Tibet Information Center/ People's Daily Online January 22, 2010

"According to reports January 16, 2010, during
the opening ceremony of the International
Buddhist Conference in Gujarat State, India, the
Dalai Lama remarked that due to the fact that he
was from purely Tibetan parents, he was Tibetan
in  appearance, but an Indian in spirituality.
Thus, his comments and ideas originate from Indian traditions."

Absolutely true! The (Tibetan) Buddhism is the
fabric of Tibetan identity, the quintessence of
Tibetan core values and belief system. Since the
Buddhism emanated from India, how can we deny its
Indian origin. Why thus the fuss about being Indian in spirituality!

In the annals of Tibetan history and religion,
India has always been revered as the "holy land".
The deep cultural affinity between Tibetan and
Indian peoples is not limited to Buddhism only.
The Tibetan script was devised on the basis of
ancient Indian Devnagri script. Among the many
theories about the origin of the first (recorded)
King of Tibet, one popular view is that he was the son of an Indian King.

Although the (Indian) Buddhism that spread in
Tibet was significantly different from the one
that spread in China --whether in its content,
social impacts or other relevant aspects -- the
real Chinese Buddhists should have no problem in
saying that their religion had emanated from
India, thus making them, technically, "Indian in spirituality".

Similarly, in the lexicon of Tibetan Buddhism,
there are honorific phrases like "The son of the
Buddha" (rgyal sras) or "The chief of sons" (sras
kyi thu bo), which in actuality mean the most
prominent disciple of Buddha, who has mastered
the knowledge of his master, and are therefore
not meant to be taken literally. This whole issue
over "a son of India" can also be seen and
understood in that context. Unfortunately, the
communist capitalists of China, for whom religion
is poison, have time and again, whether
deliberately or not, proven to be simply
incapable of grasping the spiritual connotations
and nuances read between the lines.

"Last year, the 14th Dalai Lama kissed the ground
to win the heart of India in addition to his
intensive lobbying around the  world, pleading to
visit various national leaders."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama does not need to kiss
the ground to win the hearts and minds of Indian
people. India has always esteemed His Holiness
the Dalai Lama as its "honored guest" and, to
borrow the words of present Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, "the greatest living Gandhian of
the world." It may also be noted that despite a
constant flux in the coalition politics of
India's pluralist democracy, or for that matter,
the various political parties of diverse
ideologies that formed the Government of India,
there has been not a slightest change in their
Tibet policy or their commitment towards the care of Tibetan refugees.

Similarly, the moral authority of His Holiness
the Dalai Lama today transcends all borders.
There is as such no need to "plead" for visiting
foreign leaders. Those still in doubt could take
a glance at some of the independent polls
conducted on the most popular or influential
global leaders of present times. His Holiness is
not only recognized as a beacon of peace and
non-violence, but revered for promoting universal
values and warm-heartedness that has been a
source of happiness in the lives of millions
across the world. It is in fact this overwhelming
global popularity and influence of His Holiness
that he has come to be the proverbial prickly
thorn in the flesh of China's hubris.

Despite the overwhelming political and economic
muscle of China, coupled with its bellicose
statements and threats to almost every country
that hosts His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the
frequency of his foreign visits and the size of
crowd that he invariably draws internationally
have only increased over the years. The Chinese
hue and cry against him has, on the contrary,
only added to the glamour and attraction of his
foreign visits -- though it is a different matter
that His Holiness has always been extremely
considerate in avoiding any possible inconvenience to his host.

"He referred to himself as a "son of India" as
early as last March. The Dalai Lama expressed
that he would call himself a 'son of India' on a
news conference in New Delhi March 31, 2009. When
it was published by various newspapers, his secretary hurried to interpret it."

The Tibetan people down the ages have always
taken great pride in their close spiritual
affiliation with India. The Tibetans cherish the
fact that their religion can be traced back to
the ancient Nalanda University. The Tibetan
history is therefore fraught with extraordinary
stories about the trials and tribulations of
Tibetan lotsawas [interpreters] who went to study
in India and imported Buddhism to Tibet. A great
many of Tibetan religious texts therefore begin
by citing a routine verse in Sanskrit, “gyagar
sked du...” (meaning, In the language of
India...) as a trademark of authenticity and purity of the text.

Tibetans also cherish the fact that out of over
360 million worldwide Buddhists, only Tibetans
could claim to have preserved the whole corpus of
exoteric and esoteric teachings of the Buddha. As
a sign of their authenticity, the origin of these
texts could be traced back to the scholars of the
Great Nalanda University through various unbroken chains of transmission.

The depth of Tibetan affinity with the Indian
people would appear even greater when it is
juxtaposed against the sheer lack of it
in-between Tibetan and Chinese peoples, apart
from of course a handful few dishes. This is
exactly why many eminent intellectuals have said
that Tibet belongs more to India then China, if
they were ever to contest ownership over Tibet.

Furthermore, in the 1950's, when the Tibetan
people led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama were
desperate for help, as the Chinese military
stepped up its aggression on Tibet, it was India
that came forward and embraced Tibetans with open
arms, just as they would to their own people.

Since then, for over 50 years of the Communist
Chinese rule, the Tibetans have endured mass
devastation and carnage at various times of
brutal military repression and catastrophic mass
movements, like the Cultural Revolution, that
resulted in the deaths of over 1.2 million
Tibetans and destruction of over 6,000
monasteries. In fact, the entire bio-diversity of
the once pristine Tibet has been degraded to the present critical level.

Contrary to the mass devastation in Tibet, where
virtually all vestiges of Tibetan religion and
culture were so systematically and holistically
destroyed that it coined the new term of
"cultural genocide", India provided the
proverbial home away from home to the Tibetan refugees.

We often like to boast that ours is the most
successful of all the exile communities in the
world. In fact, there are times when we have to
remind ourselves that we are still refugees and
as such, there is still a cause to fulfill, that
the fundamental rights and freedoms that we so
take for granted (in exile) are still denied to our brethren back home.

There are as such no words that could convey the
profundity of Tibetan gratitude towards India and
its people. This is exactly why the Tibetans in
India voluntarily organized a series of events at
various places to express their heartfelt
gratitude. The spontaneity of Tibetan gratitude
towards India is all the more visible when we
compared it with the state-sponsored events that
are hosted in China to celebrate with great
fanfare the "liberation" and "prosperity" of Tibet under the communist rule.

The sheer mendacity of Chinese propaganda was
exposed before the whole world when a wave of
peaceful mass uprising stormed the entire Tibetan
plateau in 2008. In the light of Chinese
exploitation and oppression in Tibet, it is but
natural that Tibetans have only grievances and
resentment to attribute towards China.

This feeling of gratitude towards India and
resentment towards China should be extremely
humiliating to the hubris of Chinese regime.
Blinded by the blinkers of their own propaganda,
the communist leaders, instead of making a
reality check on their own wrongdoings in Tibet,
still have the temerity to expect Tibetans to be
grateful to their oppressive rule.

"However, based on the reports from VOA April 15,
Indian Bhupendra Kumar Modi told reporters that
the Dalai Lama mentioned before that he was by
nature an Indian, and would try to obtain Indian
nationality if the conditions were right. Later,
the Dalai Lama's remarks and actions bore out Modi's words."

But, where is the wrong in that? His Holiness is
not merely the undisputed religious and political
leader of Tibet, but an influential international
figure whose views create headlines across the
world. He is counted among the greatest champions
of world peace and non-violence, who is also a
recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and commands a
massive international following. The catalogue of
awards and honors presented to him
internationally also includes the award of
honorary citizenship. He is already an honorary
citizen of Canada and several world cities like
Paris (France), Rome (Italy), Warsaw (Poland), Wroclaw (Poland), etc.

Given the overwhelming admiration and respect for
His Holiness the Dalai Lama as an international
figure, he should be viewed only as a citizen of
the world. Any one country, religion or group of
people cannot claim him exclusively. This is why,
the mission of promoting human values and
inter-religious harmony are earmarked as his list
of life-long priorities. His Holiness therefore
has also said that the next Dalai Lama could be
born outside Tibet, in a land of freedom.

As far as the global Tibetan diaspora is
concerned, acquiring citizenship of a country and
maintaining one’s national identity are not
mutually exclusive. They are in fact
complimentary, a practical necessity to preserve
their national identity and heritage.

However, as far as Tibetans in India are
concerned, they have always attached a greater
importance on maintaining their status of a
political refugee ever since they first took
shelter in this country. As their ultimate aim
was and is to return to Tibet, instead of
sprinkling themselves in the teeming multitude of
India, they had built from scratch their own
separate and cohesive community in exile. This is
why a teeny weeny community of merely 100,000-odd
Tibetans today stands out even in a nation of
billion people. There is as such a solid
foundation in exile today for "retaining,
nourishing and promoting" the rich Tibetan
heritage for generations to come. Some people
thus say that the real Tibet survives not in Tibet, but in India.

Despite the award of honorary citizenship of
various countries, there has been no change in
the political status of His Holiness the Dalai
Lama. He is still "a refugee", who travels across
the globe with the Identity Certificate (also
known as the yellow book) issued by the
Government of India to all its refugees, including non-Tibetans.

"The Dalai Lama pleases his Indian masters not
only by showing his willingness to be a "son of
India," but also by effacing the originality of
the Tibetan culture. The Dalai Lama uses such
words to dwarf the rich Tibetan culture with
distinctive local characteristics. He could not be more subservient.

Anybody who knows anything about "the
originality" of Tibetan culture would know that
it has nothing to do with China and almost
everything to do with India. Since the
quintessence of Tibetan culture, or for that
matter, the Tibetan national identity, is its
religion, the authenticity of the source of its
religion is of paramount importance. This is why
His Holiness the Dalai Lama often says that
Indian and Tibetan peoples share a pure bond of master and disciple.

There is an ancient Tibetan saying, gang byams
pha ma dang gang skyid pha yul, meaning whoever
loves you is your parents, wherever you find
happiness is your homeland. Since His Holiness
the Dalai Lama has lived in India more than he
had lived in Tibet, it is only natural that he is
often quoted as saying, "I have spent most of my
life in this hill station [Dharamshala]. Now I
feel like a citizen of Himachal Pradesh."

This is particularly true of the present Tibetan
generation, like this writer for instance, who
were born, bred and buttered in India. They feel
they are Indian as much as they are Tibetan. For
them, it is not necessary to choose one. The
beauty of freedom in exile is that you can choose
both of them. Unlike those in Tibet, the Tibetans
in exile are not facing a cultural imperialism
that is forcing them to assimilate into the folds of the dominant nationality.

"In fact, another reason why the Dalai Lama calls
himself a "son of India" is that he intends to deny his Chinese citizenship."

When was His Holiness the Dalai Lama ever a
Chinese citizen to deny it in the first place?
The Tibetan people, whether in or outside Tibet,
have always viewed themselves more as victims
rather than citizens of China. Besides, Tibetans
and Chinese have been historically as different
as cats and dogs. They differ in race, language,
religion, tradition, custom and in other relevant aspects.

"The Dalai Lama might have forgotten many
historical facts when saying so. For example,
Chinese Buddhism played a very important role in
the formation and development of Tibetan
Buddhism, and the Sakyamuni statue in the Jokhang
Temple was taken to Tibet by Princess Wencheng in Tang Dynasty."

Absolutely, completely utter nonsense! It is true
that the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo married
Chinese princess Wencheng, who brought a statue
of Shakyamuni to Tibet; but so did the Nepalese
princess Bhrikuti, the other bride of Songtsen
Gampo. The Tibetans do not dispute the fact that
Buddhism spread in China before it came to Tibet.
This is why His Holiness the Dalai Lama often
refers to the Chinese Buddhists -- who today come
in thousands to attend his teachings in India and
across the globe -- as the elder student of the
Buddha. However, to say that the "Chinese
Buddhism played a very important role in the
formation and development of Tibetan Buddhism"
amounts to a brazen travesty of historical facts.

According to Tibetan history, at the time when
Tibet reigned as a great military power in Asia,
the Tibetan King hosted a debate between an
Indian master (Shantarakshita) and a Chinese
heshang (monk) in order to rate their Buddhist
scholarship. As the hesheng loses that debate
miserably, he was sent back to his homeland,
while the Indian master was honored as the
spiritual master. The King in fact was said to
have gone even further by making it a rule to
keep the (then) Chinese flavor of Buddhism
strictly at bay. The episode marked the beginning
of a tradition of inviting reputed Indian masters to teach Buddhism in Tibet.

In the entire course of Tibetan history, other
than what is cited above, there is no mention of
even a single Chinese monk who was invited to
Tibet.  On the contrary, many prominent spiritual
masters of Tibet visited China, particularly when
the later was ruled by Mongols and Manchus. If at
all China had played any part in terms of the
status of Buddhism in Tibet, it has been entirely
that of destroying it in the most diligent and systematic manner.

"In addition, during the Yuan Dynasty, the
Chinese government established a special
department to handle Tibet-related military and
political affairs and put Tibet under the control
of the central government. Of course, he also
forgot that in the Qing Dynasty, the Dalai Lama's
reincarnation and enthronement had to be
confirmed by the central government. For
instance, the 7th Dalai Lama was conferred the
title by Emperor Kangxi in 1719 and the 8th Dalai
Lama was confirmed by an official dispatched by Emperor Qianlong in 1762."

This is insane and absurdly laughable. Since the
historical status of Tibet has been proven time
and again with valid facts, it might suffice for
now to merely mention that even among those who
are still undecided about Tibet, there is a
general consensus that throughout history Tibet
existed as a separate country from China.
Furthermore, when the Chinese military invaded
Tibet in 1950, it was a de-facto independent country.

As for the Chinese authority in the religious
affairs of Tibet, a best case in point is that of
the present 14th Dalai Lama. China has had
absolutely no part whatsoever in his
identification process, or for that matter, his
enthronement and assuming of state
responsibility. The Chinese role, if at all any,
was merely that of a mute spectator, like those
from the foreign missions (or embassies) of
(British) India and Nepal stationed in Lhasa.

The relations between Tibet and China were far
better when China was ruled by the Mongols (who
founded the Yuan dynasty) and the Manchus (who
formed the Qing dynasty). It is extremely funny
that China today claims with a straight face the
glory of Mongols (who had conquered most of Asia)
and Manchus, both of whom are simply not Chinese people.

The more absurd thing is that the Dalai Lama
often considers himself a "son of India" and
India's cultural guru, but he also keeps on
claiming that he represents "the interests of all
Tibetans." People cannot help but ask that since
the Dalai Lama deems himself an Indian rather
than Chinese, then why is he entitled to
represent the voice of the Tibetan people?

When those who have no authority, relevance or
knowledge to meddle in the religious affairs
still poke their noses into them, or when
religious issues are defined or appraised by the
self-styled atheists with the yardstick of their
own narrow political interest, the end result is
often a hotchpotch of pseudo-theories. In fact,
the utter nonsense of some harebrained logics
peddled by the agents of Chinese propaganda cast
a serious doubt even on their mental sanity, like
for instance, the aforesaid argument against His
Holiness representing the interests of Tibetan
people. The fact that His Holiness the Dalai Lama
is the undisputed legitimate leader of Tibetan
people is today a universal truth that even the
blind can see and the deaf can hear.

"Furthermore, will a guy who betrayed southern
Tibet to India really care about the well-being
of the Tibetan people? As a Living Buddha of the
Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism who calls for
"protecting Tibetan culture" all the time, the
Dalai Lama claims that "Tibetan Buddhism
originated from India." He also claims that the
Tibetan language derived from India and he is a
"son of India," will such a guy really want to protect Tibetan culture"

Insofar as the so-called betrayal of "southern
Tibet" to India is concerned, the border issues
between Tibet and (British) India have been
resolved amicably at times when Tibet
independently handled its foreign affairs. The
issue as such is now a foregone conclusion.

It must however be pointed out that Tibetans are
extremely happy about the fact that people in the
Himalayan regions of India, who share the same
heritage of religion and culture, enjoy all the
fundamental rights and freedoms that make
humanity the masters of their own fate. Unlike
the people on the other side of the Himalayas,
the people on the Indian side have never been
subjected to state-sponsored mass oppression and persecution.

Furthermore, the onslaught of Chinese cultural
imperialism in Tibet today is not merely diluting
Tibetan religion and culture. It is posing a
serious threat to even the continued survival of
Tibetan national identity. The Chinese leadership
must however understand that the spiritual
territory of Tibetan heritage is not limited to
its national boundaries. Irrespective of the
eventual outcome of the ongoing, relentless
Sinocization of Tibet, the Tibetan heritage will
survive in the outside world, especially amidst
the people of Himalayan regions of India.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank