INTERVIEW

"A Person acting in contradiction to what Buddhism teaches cannot be called a Buddhist" - Professor Geshe Ngawang Samten

Date: 
March 10, 2018



India has been the home for about 1,20,000 Tibetans for nearly six decades. 8 years from the arrival of the Tibetans following the 14th Dalai Lama, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru founded the Central University for Tibetan Studies in 1967. A Deemed to be University under Section 3 of the UGC Act 1956, later renamed as Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS).

The current Vice Chancellor of CIHTS Professor Geshe Ngawang Samten is a renowned scholar of Buddhist and Tibetan studies. Professor Samten was in conversation was with Teesta Setalvad in Sarnath discussing the struggle of Tibetans in recognition of their nation. For him, in Buddhism, every living being has the potential to be liberated. He believes that this is the essence of the Tibetan struggle for dignity and human rights. The Tibetan political struggle is completely non-violent under the leadership of his holiness Dalai Lama. For them the Chinese are not enemies but brothers and sisters. For the Tibetans, hatred has to be encountered by the positive mentality. Hatred against hatred will only cause destruction. The Tibetan struggle for Independence follows only non-violent means. The mistake the Chinese have committed is out of their ignorance. Prof Samten believes that Chairman Mao had only limited understanding about the status of Tibet and the social system of Tibet.

Prof Samten draws the distinction between Buddhism and person. When people act violent by taking the name of the religion, then it goes against the teaching of the religion. An enlightened person should differentiate between the religion and people who embark violence. The spirituality is undermined when there is an attachment of faith to power. A person acting in contradiction with Buddhism cannot be called as a Buddhist.