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Sunday, April 1, 2012

2012 Templeton Prize to 'Dalai Lama'

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – is one of the quotes of a Crusader considered by many as ‘apostle of peace’.

Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, shortly Tenzin Gyatso is more famously known as ‘the  14th Dalai Lama’ .  The reverred  Buddhist leader has won the 2012 Templeton Prize worth $1.7 million for his work affirming the spiritual dimension of life.  The spiritual leader “vigorously focused on the connections between the investigative traditions of science and Buddhism as a way to better understand and advance what both disciplines might offer the world”, the foundation said in a statement.  The spiritual leader  Dalai Lama, 76 won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and now has been decorated with another honour the  2012 Templeton Prize.

Tibetans have reasons to feel that they are amongst the most oppressed and least supported group of people.  Over the years,  Tibetan protests against Chinese rule have intensified.  Thirty Tibetans, mostly Buddhist monks and nuns, have set themselves on fire in the past year.   The Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, headquartered in Dharamsala, has passed a resolution that highlights the grim situation within Tibet and sought the international community’s help to end the ongoing crisis.  China wants India to keep away of Tibet and not house Dalai Lama.  The principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal matters cannot be stretched to include turning a blind eye to human suffering and dignity.   On 30th Mar 12, at Chennai, groups of young Tibetan women tried making a protest but reportedly were verbally abused and taken away by Police.   The Tibetan students were demonstrating their anger over Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India by unfurling a banner with Hu’s picture and reading ‘The Most wanted Terrorist in the world’, from atop the flyover overlooking the US Consulate.  The protestors stated that during 1988-89 when the Tibetans demonstrated against the Chinese occupation, Hu was then the Governor of Tibet, who was single-handedly responsible for the killing of hundreds of Tibetans.

China’s rule over Tibet dates back to 1950  when Communist troops occupied the country. The Dalai Lama escaped to live in exile in India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.  Dalai Lama, the greatest of the spiritual leaders of Buddhism, is believed to be the reincarnation of Bodhisattva.  The present Guru- Tenzin Gyatso, 76,  is the 14th Dalai Lama - a lineage believed by followers to be the reincarnation of  ancient Buddhist leader who epitomized compassion.  The present Head  has vigorously focussed on the connections between the investigative traditions of science and Buddhism as a way to better understand and advance what both disciplines might offer the world.

The Templeton Prize honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. The Prize has been awarded to scientists, philosophers, theologians, members of the clergy, philanthropists, writers, and reformers, for work that has ranged from the creation of new religious orders and social movements to humanistic scholarship to research about the origins of the universe.  In the words of the Founding Committee, the remarkable recipients  have shared a commitment to exploring one or more of the Big Questions at the core of the John Templeton Foundation’s mandate. All have been seekers of wisdom, humbled by the complexity of the human condition but determined to chart a path forward with their ideas and deeds.

The Templeton Prize  named after Sri John Templeton, is an annual award presented by the Templeton Foundation. Established in 1972, it is awarded to a living person who, in the estimation of the judges, "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works". Until 2001, the name of the prize was "Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion", and from 2002 to 2008 it was called the "Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities". It has typically been presented by Prince Philip in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

The monetary value of the prize is adjusted so that it exceeds that of the Nobel Prizes, as Templeton felt "spirituality was ignored" in the Nobel Prizes.  At £1,000,000, as of 2009, it is the largest single annual financial prize award given to an individual by a philanthropic organisation.  Notably, the  inaugural winner of the prize, in 1973, was Mother Teresa, six years before she received the Nobel Peace Prize.

It gets honoured by being awarded to Dalai Lama.  But quite unfortunately, the Dalai Lama is refused invitations by nations who do not wish to incur China’s disapproval. Demographically, Tibet is a miniscule society while China is a billion-plus market. China has veto at the UN and Tibet lacks a presence, let alone membership.   In International relationship parlance,  China is a powerful entity and Tibet is nobody – but morally, India should be supporting Tibetan cause and Dalai Lama.  We have been speaking of avowed principles and we need to stand by somebody who is the epitome of all such virtues.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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