‘Dalai Lama Appeals For Compassion’
by Staff Reporter
(Afternoon. March 13, 2000)

His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibetan people the world over, made a strong appeal to the world to practice compassion if they wanted to be happy and at peace with themselves, in his talk on 'Ethics For The New Millennium' at the Birla Matushri Hall, yesterday. Before sitting down crossleged on a sofa set up for him on stage he lit a few diyas for a 'holy evening' and recited a short prayer which he said were the 'Buddha's words' as written by the venerated Buddhist sage Nagarjuna.

The Dalai Lama, speaking in English with occasional help from his Tibetan translator, traced the ancient links of India with Tibet. Buddhism, after all came from India, as all the distinguished Buddhist scholars of Buddha times. 'India' he smiled and said with a mischievous tone, 'is our Guru and we Tibetans are from a small land as disciples or chela! Tibet's relationship with India is close and something very special and unique, he said.

Differentiating religion from culture, he said there were differences and contradictions between one religion and another, but several religions shared a common culture. Referring fleetingly to the 'cultural genocide' in Tibet (annexed by China in 1949) he said 'there is no need to explain!' (because the whole world knows by now what is happening in his homeland), he explained that his dilemma was how his people, who had left Tibet, could conserve Tibet's ancient culture. The 'Festival of Tibet 2000' which he had earlier inaugurated at the YB Chavan Centre, was one way to keep the Tibetan culture alive albeit in India.

The Buddha's message of compassion, he said, was a message for the times, 'it is very useful to practice compassion, it can change, transform a person...' Real compassion, he defined, was not something to do with pity but something born out of understanding, respect, concern — much like mother's milk for her child! 'Genuine compassion,' he summed up, 'is actually unbiased.'

Industrialist Mukesh Ambani welcomed the Dalai Lama, described him as 'a great philosopher and teacher, the epitome of peace and goodwill' and said the city was blessed to have him here. Birla Matushri Hall was packed with well over a thousand people, sitting on the aisles, all around the auditorium, many had started lining up outside from as early as 12 noon for the 4pm talk!