In keeping with his avowed dictum of promoting only human values and universal brotherhood, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, restricted his public address to the people of Tawang to climate change, environment, moderation in alcohol consumption and optimum utilisation of funds given by the Centre.
In his only direct reference to the Tibetans, he stressed the comprehensiveness of the Himalayan version of Buddhism compared to what was being practised in China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and other countries.
Speaking under an open sky with a light canopy fluttering above him and clouds beginning to obscure the surrounding hills, the Dalai Lama told another large crowd, this time mainly of locals, about the incorporation of all four major branches of Buddhism in the Tibetan version and called on youth to ensure that the culture, language and traditions that had been handed down by their ancestors remained unsullied.
Sitting erect on a simple throne with a buffer zone of monks from the nearby monasteries between him and the devotees, he punctuated his remarks in Tibetan with his trademark giggles. But the reason could not be fathomed for, the translator chose to exorcise portions of his speech including where he clearly said “political” in English before lapsing into his native tongue.
The crowd, silent and attentive, ignored minor inconveniences caused by an obscured sun and the wind that seeped through protective clothing. It politely clapped when the Dalai Lama closed his address, which people here think will be his last here given his advancing age.
Asking people to protect the environment and lauding non-governmental organisations for their work, he said the real change could come about only when every person became aware of the risks of global warming.
He cited the example of Himachal Pradesh, which had taken to growing apple trees in a big way, to exhort people not to leave land barren, and cautioned against drunkenness, which was taking a heavy toll of people’s health in the Himalayan belt. Interestingly, he pointed out that the funds allocated to the State came from taxes collected from people in other regions, and advocated their proper use.
In the end, the religious leader sought the people’s forgiveness for inconveniences caused to them during his stay.
With an address that lasted 20 minutes, besides the translations in the local Mompa language and Hindi, the Dalai Lama ended his public engagements in Tawang that had captured worldwide attention due to its disputed status and his observations on the opening day on the border dispute and China.
On Thursday the Dalai Lama moves to Dirang, from where he will visit Bomdila, his last port of call among the lay people before visiting Itanagar, capital of Arunachal Pradesh, for an audience with senior government officials.