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AN APPEAL TO ALL DHARMA FRIENDS
the Department of Religion and Culture Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai-Lama has now been registred under the name of "His Holiness the Dalai-Lama's Religious and Cultural Society"
As a part of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, His Holiness established the Department of Religion & Culture in 1960 with the aim and responsibility to preserve and promote religious and cultural heritage of Tibet which is in the verge of extinction under Chinese rule in Tibet. It is, therefore, our responsibility to look after the welfare and education of monks and nuns in our community.
Over the years the Department assisted in the establishment of important cultural institutes like the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, the Tibet House, the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies and the Norbulingka Institute which are now functioning as autonomous bodies.
Currently, the Department is engaged in the activities of providing spiritual guidance and financial assistance to various traditional learning centres in India, Nepal and Bhutan. In these centres or the monasteries/nunneries, there are altogether 20,000 monastic students out of which 1,300 are nuns. Besides traditional Buddhist philosophy, the students also receive modern education on health, environment, etc... The Department alsos takes responsibility in sending Dharma teachers to teach Buddhism to the school children in 104 Tibetan schools in India and Nepal.
The Department select intelligent students from among the various learning centres and give them monastic teacher's training and send them back to their centres to teach the students there. So far, the Department has produced 183 such teachers.
From the past few years, the Department has been providing scholarships to Mongolian, Russian and Kalmykian students studying Tibetan Religion and Culture in various learning centres. Until now, the Department has under its care 169 such students drawing a monthly scholarship ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000 per head. Moreover, the Department send Geshes and other religious experts to these countries to teach Buddhism. Over the years, the Department assisted in the establishment of 890 Buddhist centres in about 40 foreign countries. With the aim of helping these centres, the Department conducted Translation Training courses for a few times. Besides it also organised five Buddhist conferences for the high-ranking Buddhist Lamas from India and abroad.
Quite recently, the Department could establish a new cultural centre namely Norbulingka Institute which serves as an important centre for learning and promoting Tibetan culture.
Communist China has been systematically destroying the religious and cultural heritage of Tibet. It is virtually not possible to receive a full traditional religious education under Chinese rule in Tibet. Although the Chinese claim that religious freedom exists in Tibet, it mainly consists of such devotional practices as circumambulation, prostration, making offerings in temples and turning prayers wheels which are obvious to everyone. On the other hand, the pillars of the religious establishments, fully educated monks are being ruthlessly undermined by the persistent denial of any serious form of religious and philosophical education. Any hope of true religious revival in Tibet is not possible. Consequently, ever increasing numbers of monks and nuns are fleeing Tibet in the hope of receiving a genuine traditional education in exile.
Many who make the journey do so at the risk of their lives, travelling for long periods without proper food or sleep. Some do not survive.
At present, we have under our care about 7,500 newly arrived monks and nuns from Tibet who have joined the monasteries and nunneries that have been re-established after 1959 in exile. Since the monastic communities are already undergoing financial strain, it is not possible for them to take on newcomers without additional help. Monks and nuns have to do domestic works like cultivation, animal rearing, etc.. in order to be self-reliant at least with regard to their food and clothing. The Department thus provide each new arrival monk and nun from Tibet with Rs 85 (USD 2.42) which is meagre compared to the actual needs of the monks and nuns. The total amount we spend for the welfare and education of these monks and nuns is Rs 8,100,000 (USD 233,142.85) annually due to which the Department is undergoing a severe financial constraint. Moreover, the constant inflation in India demands that the scholarship be increased. But at present, due to the lack of enough funds we are unable to do so. We are planning to increase the amount to Rs 100 per head, if our financial situation improves.
It is a fact that we could not find sponsors for all the 7,500 newly arrived monastic students. Therefore, we pool all the donations and sponsorships we receive in order to ensure equal coverage of help irrespective of whether a particular monk or nun has a sponsor or not.
Besides supporting newly arrived monks and nuns, we also help poor, sick and aging monks and nuns.
With the number of monks and nuns arriving from Tibet increasing by the day, the cost of their support is becoming alarmingly high. However, we cannot limit their number by turning them away. We know that without our help there will be no possibility of these youths pursuing a traditional monastic education. We cannot destroy their hopes but have a responsibility to help them fulfill their aspirations, for if we could overcome these immediate problems, there is a great hope for the future. A large body of educated monks will have a far reaching effect on every aspect of Tibetan culture.
In one way, the increasing number of young novice monks is an encouraging sign and shows that traditional values are still deeply rooted in the exile community. However, it is not enough for children to merely don the robes and learn a few prayers. They have to receive proper food and a well founded education in order to carry on the precious tradition of Buddhist philosophy.
Religious institutions such as monasteries and nunneries are the cornerstone of Tibetan culture. Tibetan art, literature and architecture are three crucial aspects of the culture which have gained great admiration all over the world, are inseparable from the development of religious tradition. It is an undeniable fact that the best scholars and artists are either members of a monastery or were trained in it.
Helping an endangered culture, which is part of the world heritage regain its strength is a worthy cause. Many aspects are already present; they are the students and they have the will. What is most needed is financial help.
We earnestly request all our Dharma-friends to kindly help our needy monks and nuns and to preserve our religion and culture at this crucial period of our history.
May we conclude with our fervent prayers for the long life and happiness of all sentient beings and may Peace prevail on Earth.
Kindly make donations/cheques payable to :
Postal address :
His Holiness the Dalai-Lama's Religious and Cultural Society
Gangchen Kyishong, Dharamsala 176215
District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh INDIA
Tashi Delegs and Thank You.
May 6th, 2007 :
There are nearly 10,000 new arrival monks & nuns from Tibet who are under the care of this Department. These monks and nuns journeyed over the Himalayas to freedom, often arriving with frostbitten limbs and chronic illnesses due to the hardship of the journey.
Human rights observers have documented scores of stories from them about the imprisonment, torture, brutal forced hard labor, and starvation diets that led them to make the decision to escape at all costs. They have nothing with them except the cloth they are wearing when they come into exile in India. Some do not survive under such hardships on their way.
Besides new arrival monks and nuns, we also look after old and infirm monks and nuns who do not belong to any specific monastery or nunnery. They are not in a position to work and earn a living. They live under small donations from the people. They form the poorest of the poor in the exile Tibetan Community.
So, in order to take care of such a huge number of monks and nuns, we are compelled to seek outside donations from sympathetic people like you. We sincerely appreciate and remember your kind support at this crucial period of our history. May we look forward to your continued support.
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