Shimla: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who celebrated his 88th birthday, once again resolved to serve the Tibetan community and also humanity with full determination as he assured his followers that he was still in a robust state of health with a high morale.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, in his address at a function organised at Mcleodganj in the courtyard of the Tsuglagkhang Temple, as part of his birthday celebrations, said, “I can assure you, I will continue to serve humanity with compassion, promote peace and religious harmony.”
Sharing his optimism over the near future, he said that in the coming years, the world would become a more peaceful place, leaving weaponry aside and humans would coexist as brothers.
The Dalai Lama also shared his concern on global warming and climate change posing a serious threat and appealed to the nations to find solutions to this challenge.
“I have another 15 to 20 years of life. Even as I have turned 88 and you are celebrating my birthday. But look at me, do I look senile or old. I look barely 50 when I look at myself in the mirror,” the Dalai Lama said, smiling.
Boosting the morale of his followers, he said, “Whenever you draw-up my portrait or make my painting, don’t show me as old.”
To reiterate his age, not failing him even at 88, the Dalai Lama said he hasn’t lost a single tooth. “ I can chew and eat anything I like even now. I have seen the dream to live for one or two more decades. You also keep praying for my life,” he exhorted his followers.
He also traced his journey from his birth at a small village in Kumbum in the Amdo region in Tibet and thereafter occupying the highest position as the 14th Dalai Lama .
Sharing his life-long commitment to helping others he said that he was born as the Dalai Lama through the force of karma and stressed the need for helping others.
Additionally, he spoke about his respect for all religions which essentially teaches values like helping others, particularly he expressed his appreciation for Buddhism which he called scientific and logical in nature.
Greetings poured in from all over the world to wish him a long life as Prime Minister Narendra Modi also made a phone call and later tweeted his good wishes.
In his birthday message for the Dalai Lama, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wished the Tibetan spiritual leader saying the Dalai Lama’s kindness and humility are an inspiration to many around the world.
Blinken also said that the US remains steadfast in its commitment to support the linguistic, cultural and religious identity of Tibetans, including their ability to freely choose and respect their religious leaders without interference.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhwinder Sukhu and his wife, besides chairman Himachal Pradesh Tourism Board R S Bali, and local MLAs reached out to greet Dalai Lama on his birthday and seek his blessings.
He paid tribute to His Holiness calling him an icon of peace and compassion and messenger of love and brotherhood and said that His Holiness’ life stands as an inspiration to all. Of His Holiness’ peaceful struggle for Tibet, the CM said that His Holiness had since many years fought for the struggle of Tibet and Tibetans but through peaceful means and compassion earning him a Nobel Peace Prize.
He concluded by giving reassurance to all the Tibetan residents that Himachal is their home and the Himachal government has their welfare at heart.
Sikyong Penpa Tsering and Speaker Sonam Tenphel delivered the statements of the Kashag and Tibetan Parliament respectively.
The event saw lively cultural performances from Tibetan schools, regional Tibetan associations in Dharamsala and the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts(TIPA).
The Dalai Lama attained the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy amidst a great assembly of scholars. At the young age of sixteen, the Dalai Lama shouldered Tibet’s spiritual and temporal leadership and undertook initiatives to bring about social reforms.
However, the invasion and occupation in 1959 by China brought Tibet on the verge of extermination, which compelled the Dalai Lama to tread the path into exile. Since then, the Tibetan Spiritual leader had made Mcleodganj (Dharamshala) his abode in the Himalayas.
In recent times, there have also been demands to honour the Dalai Lama with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award. In 2019, as many as 200 Members of Parliament across party lines, led by former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shanta Kumar, signed a memorandum urging the Central government to award the Dalai Lama a Bharat Ratna.