The head of the Tibetan government in exile, the Dalai Lama, feels more welcome and at home in this country than ever before.
“Harmony among religions is India’s greatest treasure and I am this great country’s messenger of peace and ahimsa. In this sense, I am a son of India”, the Tibetan Buddhist leader said here on Monday.
Underscoring the ever-increasing relevance of Buddhism’s message of peace in the conflict-ridden modern society, the Dalai Lama said India stood as a model for rest of the world for the manner in which it served as a harmonious repository of many religions.
The Tibetan leader made these observations during a brief chat with a group of reporters after inaugurating the Bodh Gaya Multimedia Museum, set up opposite the Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodh Gaya.
Before this engagement, the Dalai Lama spent almost an hour at the Mahabodhi Temple. He first offered prayers at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Then, he inaugurated a stone carved panel depicting the life history of Buddha in the Mahabodhi Mahavihara complex.
“As a Buddhist monk, I come here to pay my respects to the Lord whenever I get an opportunity”, he said, when asked about the purpose of his current visit to Bodh Gaya. He last visited the temple town in 2006.
Earlier, the Dalai Lama arrived in Bodh Gaya by a chartered flight from Bhavnagar amid tight security to impart five day of teachings (January 5-9) at the Kalchakra Maidan here. He was accompanied by five persons, including his personal body guards.
He was received at the airport, among others, by the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, spiritual leader of the Kagyu Sect of Buddhists, Gaya District Magistrate and Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee chairman Sanjay Singh and Superintendent of Police Sushil Khopde.
He was taken in a bullet-proof car (commissioned from Patna) to the Tibetan Temple for a short rest before visiting the Mahabodhi Temple complex.
The route to the airport and the Mahabodhi complex had been completely cordoned off to facilitate the Dalai Lama’s visit. Yet, thousands of monks and foreigners waited for hours for a glimpse of the Tibetan leader.
Jigme Tsering, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama, said he had no other public engagement for the day. “He’ll begin his teachings at 9 am on Tuesday and continue till January 9”, he told Hindustan Times. .
Magadh Commissioner Rana Awadhesh and Gaya DM Sanjay Singh, independently confirmed the Dalai Lama was not scheduled to meet any political leader of Bihar during his stay.