Situ Rinpoche Returns to India


On  August 25, 1998, H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche was welcomed back to New Delhi, India by an enthusiastic throng of monks and laypeople  representing monasteries, government institutions and Buddhist organizations from Nepal, India and Bhutan. The occasion was memorable due to the lifting of a ban on Rinpoche's return which had been in force for the past five years.

 

A letter from His Holiness the Dalai Lama  (September 11, 1998) states:

"Tai Situ Rinpoche is known to me since many years and I can vouch (for him). I have full confidence in him and I believe that Rinpoche has much to offer through his spiritual leadership in the Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. I am therefore happy that Rinpoche has returned to India since recently."

The following report has been compiled by Norma Levine from an article which appeared in the Himalayan Voice  Aug/Sept 1998.

On August 25, 1998, a huge and colourful crowd of monks, nuns and Lamas as well as representatives of  the different Tibetan Buddhist sects, and Buddhist organizations gathered at Indira Gandhi International airport to accord a warm and affectionate welcome to HE Tai Situ Rinpoche (who had been banned "due to the persuasion of Sharmapa Lama and his dissident followers").

Many of the crowd wore traditional dress and were carrying banners and burning incense (List of various delegations below) The Lamas and Rinpoches formed a long line on both sides of the departure lounge of the airport and waited expectantly for over an hour while the flight was delayed, to receive Rinpoche's blessing. Finally, Rinpoche came out from the airport amidst a round of warm applause. There were tears in the eyes of many Lamas; some even sobbed.

The next day, the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association organized a traditional reception and long life prayers for Rinpoche at the impressive Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Chief guest was the Hon. Minister for Urban Affairs, Mr Ram Jethmalani. After lighting lamps and chanting long life prayers, there were speeches from the Chairman of the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association, Mr Karma Tobdan, member of the Rajya Sabha from Sikkim, and Dr Ananda Kumar, Professor at Nehru University and Secretary of the Bharat-Tibet Friendship Association. All speakers commented on Rinpoche's contribution to world peace, specifically his ceaseless battle for the underprivileged, and of the deep faith of the Himalayan people towards him. Guest speaker, Mr Jethmalani apologised on behalf of the Indian Government and claimed it had been a mistake on their part that Rinpoche had been exiled from India.In an emotionally charged speech, he said,  "The Buddha is the beacon light and that light will become the shining light of the world" .

At the end of the reception, Tai Situpa was presented with offering scarves and flowers by representatives and Rinpoches from Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Delhi etc.

 List of Nepalese Buddhist delegations: Dhilyak Monastery, Thrangu Tashi Choling, Nenang Pawo Monastery, Benchen Gompa, Kyodrak Tenyi Gompa, Karma Thinley Gompa, Shechen Tenyi Thargeyling, Karmapa Sewa Sangh Samiti, Him Khar Gompa, Jamgon Labrang, Dege Welfare Ass'n, Yolmo Ass'n, Nangchen Welfare Ass'n, Lingtsang Welfare Ass'n, Deling Dungdrub Society, Ngedon Osel Ling, Swyandbud.

Areas represented: Ladakh, Lahul, Spiti, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Dharmsala and Bhutan.

 The following speech was given by Tai Situ Rinpoche during the reception ceremony held in his honour on the occasion of his return to Sherabling. (published in the Himalayan Voice (II) 3, Aug/Sept 1998 pp. 39-41

The photo below and above show a performance by the local Culture Preservation Institute from Bir Tibetan settlement and Suja children's village; and the Minister of Religious and Cultural Affairs of H.H. the Dalai Lama, both taken at Sherabling.

 

 

"I am so happy that you have come today, all of you here lead by our chief guest, the minister for religious affairs, all you incarnate Lamas who have willingly taken rebirth for the sake of sentient beings, you abbots adorned with the nine qualities of noble scholars, the sangha who possess the seven qualities of knowledge and liberation, officials of the government of the Tibetan people in Dharamsala, heads of local settlements, the general public, teachers of the schools, heads of the local Indian regions, local public, and people from Sikkim, Ladakh, Kunnu and other Himalayan regions, and private individuals who have made their own way here from Bhutan, Nepal and so on.

If I explain why I am so happy: In brief, if you think of me, I am very low in having the intelligence of a wise person and the experiential realisations of an established saint. However, because of the pure lineage of gurus and the kindness of the unique specialisations of the pure lineage of great minds, I have received the blessings of pratimoksa, bodhisattva and vajrayana vows. In the same way that I have received the blessings of these three traditions of vows, I will strive to maintain their purity, without defect in my practice. In addition to that also, I have a name or title, and in accordance with that title, I must strive to maintain the teachings of the Buddha because of my title as a Buddhist elder. Therefore I strive to serve the welfare of sentient beings as much as I can.

To this purpose, therefore, dusing the past few years, I have been continuously making prayers with a pure heart for the sake of all sentient beings. I pray that there may be no obstructions to the increase of the Buddha's teachings in the holy land of the noble ones. With regard to my body, however, I didn't have the chance to be here and fulfill my purpose in India. But now, at this moment, the opportunity has arisen for me to return and serve the purpose of the Buddha's teachings in India once more. I feel that this is highly meritorious. So I am very happy that you have all come here today on such an occasion and have given me your best wishes, for which I thank you very much.

All of us here are followers of the Buddha. The blessed Buddha first cultivated the thought of enlightenment and then, through his period of training, he accumulated meritorious virtue for three countless aeons. Finally, at the end of this time, he attained pure and perfect enlightenment, and then he taught the immeasurable and unfathomable lower and higher vehicles of the methods to salvation. To his ordinary followers he gave numberless teachings, and to his rare and gifted disciples he gave profound teachings on the secret path of vajrayana. Whoever follows  these teachings is a Buddhist. For all of us  who have had the chance to enter the vajrayana, it is as if the flower had fallen upon our own deity and this arises as a result of a vast accumulation of virtue from previous lives. This is highly fortunate. However, having attained this opportunity, we should not waste it. Nor should we allow the dharma to decline. We should cause the Dharma to flourish and increase, and whatever Dharma has declined should be restored. This is the duty and responsibility of all those who practise the Dharma. That duty rests on our own shoulders. Therefore I on my part have continuously striven in this matter. Even now I am striving and will continue to strive for this.

As for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, the sole deity of us Tibetans, he upon whom our flower has fallen and the great object of refuge for all Buddhists in the world, for him too, these are his intentions. The dharma teachings that can help all sentient beings are in our hands. But we did not receive this because we are capable of uplifting all beings, nor did we attain these teachings on our own merits alone, nor because we won them in debate. We hold these teachings due to the blessings of Avalokitesvara, whom we have honoured and worshipped for many lifetimes with body, speech and mind, and our flower has fallen upon him. The spread of Dharma is his intention. In the popular oral tradition there is a saying: 'One says MANI and mummy at the same time' (ie Tibetans learn the 6 syllable mantra at their mother's knee as one of the first things they can say). This is clear proof of our connection with him.

For all these reasons, we should practise these teachings for the sake of peace in the world as the noble Avalokitesvara intends, not merely with our lips but sincerely from the heart. Lay people, also, should have their own appropriate way of acting. If we do all these things distinctly without mistakes, outwardly, inwardly and secretly, we may serve the Buddha well and accomplish much for the sake of all sentient beings and accomplish the intentions of Avalokitesvara, the father of all the Buddhas.

When I speak from that viewpoint, it is highly fortunate for me to be back in India serving the cause of sentient beings and the Buddha-Dharma once more. Here, in the holy land of India, we have the opportunity to accomplish the goals of this and future lives. Speaking for myself, I was born in Tibet but brought up here in India. And the same is true for many of the people here. This is because we have some karmic connection with the holy land of India which has been blessed by the feet of the glorious Buddha. It is a matter of great merit and joy that we have this opportunity to practise Dharma and accomplish our own and others' welfare throughout this and future lives. Thus we may be able to accomplish the intentions of the noble Avalokitesvara by being in India, a land also blessed by the appearance of Avalokitesvara himself, a land that lies under the shadow of his great compassion.

People of India and the government of India continue to be so kind to us and we think of them with that affection normally reserved for our own parents. They have been so kind as if we were relatives in the same family... (text corruption here)

I am aware of this from the depths of my heart. I am so fortunate to meet you all here today. I am not able to say many vast and profound things to you all just now, because all I can tell you is as much as I know, as far as I can reach with my mind. I have nothing more to say beyond this. In brief, the teachings of the Buddha are to be good at heart. If someone harms you, you should think of him with pity. He is under the sway of harmful emotions and, not observing the law of karma, he is oppressed by strong emotions. 'May he not suffer as a result. May he become free of the tyranny of the five poisonous afflictions.' This is what Buddhists should think. So in whatever circumstances you should find yourself in trouble, with family, friends or neighbours, one should cherish bodhicitta and practise it from the heart, not merely mutter it with the mouth. When the noble Avalokitesvara speaks of the path of non-violence and peace, he refers to bodhicitta. These teachings of good heart are the most important teachings of the Buddha. This is the gist of all the holy ones in the lineage, from the primordial Buddha to one's own root guru. Therefore we should keep all of this within our minds.

I am so happy that we could all meet here today. To all of you I wish good fortune. TASHI DELEGS. I pray that the incarnation of the lord Avalokitesvara may live long. May his life be stable and firm and may his activities increase and spread wide. May the victorious Vajradhara Karmapa live long and may his activities prosper. With regard to him also, I pray that the victorious Karmapa may come to India as soon as possible so that he may be established at Rumtek monastery and his many followers may be able to receive his blessings and advice. This is for the benefit of all sentient beings. I also pray fervently that all of you here may turn your minds towards the Dharma, and that the Dharma may be a proper path, and that this path dispels illusion so that illusion gives rise to transcendental wisdom." 

English translation by Martin Boord and Karma Phunsho, Oxford, November 27, 1998.