Nangchen (China), Sep 17 (IANS) Speaking out against fanaticism, the spiritual head of the Drukpa lineage of Buddhism says religions are “misunderstood” and “misinterpreted” in a sectarian kind of way.
“Fanaticism is a bad thing. Fanaticism that connects with the religion, be it Hindu, be it Muslim, be it Buddhist, it doesn’t matter,” Gyalwang Drukpa told a group of visiting Indian mediapersons in this town in the southernmost part of Qinghai province, neighbouring Tibet’s Chamdo district. He is here for the inauguration of a restored Ashoka stupa and a new Buddhist temple in the same complex.
Saying that he was not authorised to speak on Hindus and Muslims, the Ladakh-based Drukpa advised Buddhists to focus on the spirituality and not the religiosity of the religion.
He said when religion is “misinterpreted” in a sectarian way, Buddhism would also one day face problems and asked members of the community not to be fanatic in their beliefs.
“Luckily Buddhism still represents non-violence. But one day, who knows, Buddhism will also not really be representing non-violence. Buddhist people should not be fanatic about the religiosity. The Buddhists should really keep the spirituality of Buddhism, not the religiosity. If they don’t do that well, then one day they will also be a violent kind of group, said Drukpa, whose associates claim he has over 27 million followers across the world.
Asked about the developments in Tibet, Gyalwang Drukpa said he himself felt confused on the issue.
“Some say (the progress made) is not good, some say it’s good. I am not in a position to say good or bad right now,” he replied.
“Obviously, some part of Tibet has a little bit of difficulty and some parts have good life. I don’t really have any kind of opinion to share with you,” he said.
Last year, the spiritual leader had complained that eight of his monasteries were snatched by “some people who were “misusing” the name of the Karmapa. He has also posted an open letter on the issue on his website.
Questioned on the issue, the revered monk reiterated his position.
“We are going through the process of modalities to be done. It is a historical kind of disasters happening. It’s like something that we cannot really be patient or tolerant (about).”
Speaking about the restored Ashoka stupa an the new Buddhist temple in the same complex, the Drukpa said he was proud and happy at his “little bit of contribution” to the project.
“Ashoka was the biggest and the most well known Buddhist king not only in India, but all over the world. We are very proud about what we have done. I myself am also proud about my little bit of contribution to the Ashokan remains,” he said.
Drukpa hoped the restoration of the Stupa would help better Sino-Indian relations as Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoped would happen.
“Yes, this will be a very good contribution towards Modi’s wish and I hope that will also be beneficial (for bilateral ties between India and China).”
Answering a query, the senior monk said he had no immediate plans to restore any other Ashokan stupa in China or across Southeast Asia, but would give his assent if some symbolic remains were found in any corner of the world.
“I don’t really have a plan right now. But obviously, if there is a very significant kind of thing, symbolic kind of thing, that it is lying somewhere, in some corner of the world I will definitely go ahead and do something,” he added.
(Sirshendu Panth is in China at the invitation of the Chinese government. He can be contacted at email@example.com)