China Appropriating Buddhism

In an effort to overwhelm Tibetan Buddhists, Chinese government has
destroyed three Buddhist statues, since the last December in Tibet. A statue
of Padmasambhava (in Sanskrit) also known as Guru Rinpoche (figure 1) in
Tibetan was destroyed lately.

Figure-1. Photo of Padmasamhava Statue in Dargo County in Tibet, RFA
This was the second destruction of Buddhist statue in Dargo (Luhuo in
Chinese) county in Karze Prefecture of Tibet. The photo below taken in
March 2019 showed Guru Ripoche statue standing high
indicates that statue has been demolished, since it shows only the base of
the statue.

Similarly, on December 12, 2021, the 99-feet statue of Maitreya Buddha,
costing about US$ 6 million,at Gaden Namgyal Ling Monastery at Kham
Drago along with forty four prayer wheels and thousands of prayer flags was
destroyed. The photo taken in March 2019 shows the statue (figure – 4)
intact at its place.

The intent of the Chinese destroying Buddhists statues is to eradicate
Tibetans faith and their right to preserve Tibetan traditions. The acts of
destruction signal a fresh crackdown and straight case of cultural genocide.
The revival of ‘Cultural Revolution’ like activities in Tibet should be viewed in
a larger perspective, in view of CCPs efforts over the years to ‘Sinicize’
Tibetan Buddhism involving ensuring that the spiritual beliefs and teaching
be congruent to the principles of the CCP.
The 11th Representative Meeting of the Buddhist Association of Ngaba (Aba
in Chinese) Prefecture was held on December 6, 2021 to focus on the
National Religious Works Conference (NRWC). According to Abe daily,
Secretary of State party Committee Liu Ping, Deputy Secretary of State party
Committee Luo Zhenhua, Director of Standing Committee of the State
People’s Congress Li Weiguo and Chairman of State Political Consultative
Conference, attended the meeting.
Liu Ping underscored that “it is necessary to firmly follow Xi Jinping’s thought
on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, always hold high the
banner of patriotism, love of religion, unity, progress, implement the spirit ofNRWC and adhere to the direction of Sinicization of religions in China”. Liu
added that all should work in tandem and guide Tibetan Buddhism to adapt
to the ‘Socialist Society’ and contribute the wisdom and strength of the
Buddhist community to the stability and development of Ngaba. He asserted
that the Buddhist Monks should understand the relationship between the law
and belief correctly, and that dharma has no boundaries, yet they should be
within the boundaries of law and policies.
In its attempt to appropriate Tibetan Buddhism, CCP is trying to push China’s
case as the originator of the Tibetan Buddhism rather than India. Historians
have agreed that Buddhism was brought to Tibet in late seventh century by
the Tibetan Monarch Songsten Gampo invited Buddhist scholars from India.
In eight century, King Trisong Detsen invited Indian scholars,
Padamsambhava and Shantarakshita, the Head Monk of Nalanda
University, to establish monastic tradition, Nyingmapa, the oldest major
schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
On the similar lines, China has been trying to play an active role in
developing Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha, in Nepal by way of financing
US$ 3 billion to Nepalese government for the construction of an airport,
highway, convention centre and a Buddhist University. This is to develop
Lumbini on the model of Bodh Gaya in India, a major Buddhist pilgrimage for
the followers of Buddha all over the world.
China has adopted an aggressive posture since the Dalai Lama, 86, has
categorically spoken that after his demise his incarnation would be found in
India, warning that any other successor named by China would not be
accepted. China’s efforts to ‘Sinicize’ and appropriate Tibetan Buddhism is
one of the strategies to prove that Tibet is an integral part of China and
legitimizes its appointment of new Dalai Lama. The demolition of statues of
Buddhists scholars from India, thus, has larger implication for the Tibetan
movement and India’s centuries-old Buddhism.

News Desk

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