More young Indians are annually arriving in this Himalayan hill town to lend their ear to the teachings and and sermons of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say Tibetans living in exile here.
Last year, a thousand Indians came to this town to listen to what the 14th Dalai Lama has to say on things spiritual and temporal. This year, the number has gone up by nearly 200.
"These teachings were organised the second time, especially on the request of a group from India. Out of the 8,000 participants, over 1,200 were Indians,"
Tenzin Taklha, joint secretary at the Dalai Lama's office, told IANS. The four-day teachings, which concluded Monday, saw participants from 69 countries.
"We have come from Bangalore for the first time to attend the teachings of His Holiness (Dalai Lama)," Supriya Sharma, a senior executive with a multinational company, said.
Her friend Isha Goel said: "Indians are known to rely on their spiritual and yoga gurus. Their inclination is often the result of the appearance of such gurus on television channels, but gradually there has been a shift from Hindu philosophy to Buddhism propagated by the Dalai Lama."
"Quite relaxing. The visit was focused on understanding Tibetan culture and the sources of its spiritual sustenance," Isha said.
On the first day of teachings, the 77-year-old pontiff expressed happiness at teaching the Indians. "I am pleased to give teachings to Indians as these teachings originated from India," the Dalai Lama, whose sermons on ethics, non-violence, peace and religious harmony have made him one of the twentieth century's most popular and revered gurus, was quoted as saying by Tibetan advocacy website Phayul.com.
"Giving teachings on Buddhism back to Indians is like returning their ancestral Buddhism to a new generation of Indians," the globe-trotting monk said.
Aides of the Dalai Lama said that seeing how Indians are drawn to the Dalai Lama's teachings, his official website (dalailama.com) was made available in Hindi too from May 25.
Octogenarian Tashi Dolma, who was part of the Indian Buddhist group, travelled along with over 100 Buddhist devotees from Keylong in Himachal Pradesh for an audience with the Dalai Lama.
The spiritual guru's teachings are free and open to the public. Even board and lodging is free for the participants, says the Dalai Lama's office.
The teaching sessions are held at the request of followers and devotees, mostly Westerners and Asians. The Dalai Lama teaches in Tibetan, and there are simultaneous translations in English, Hindi, Chinese and Russian for the participants.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese Communist rule in 1959. On reaching India, he first took up residence for about a year in Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, after which he moved to this Himachal Pradesh town where he continues to live.
In his addresses, the Dalai Lama is often quoted as saying: "India and Tibet share millennia old teacher-student relationship as Buddhism reached Tibet directly from India in the seventh century."