The Chinese establishment has destroyed the Tibetan plateau. Railways, bridges, roads, hospitals don’t matter as long as the natives of the land are forced to flee and burn themselves in broad daylight.
The Tibetans fled their motherland decades ago and settled in a remote corner of Himachal Pradesh. Many years have passed since then and what remains of Tibet, as a country, is nothing but its monasteries spread across the Indian nation. What the foreign invaders ( and the public too) did to ‘our’ temples was never the case with the Tibetans. They always preserved and took pride in their culture. And these monasteries reflect their love for their tradition.
The youth is disconnected for sure. The Tibetan Youth can be seen selling Chinese goods on the streets of Dharamshala, Delhi, and Sikkim. The first generation Tibetans in India have almost lost the hope of returning back to their motherland. And having spent a considerable time of my life in Dharamshala, I can say with authority, that the young generation has some other ideas about their freedom.
The Dzongsar Khyentse Monastery was first constructed and established in 746AD as a Bonpo Shrine (the oldest spiritual tradition of Tibet). It went on to become a Nyingmapa Monastery subsequently and a Kadampa Monastery after that, and all these represent major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
The way of living and spiritual traditions practiced by Tibetans under different schools came to jeopardy when Mao launched the Cultural Revolution and The Great Leap Forward. The Great Leap Forward was Mao’s push for a modern, industrialized and unified China. Smash the Four Olds (1958-1976) program was launched to get rid of the Tibetan culture which stood for doing away with old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits. Many Tibetan monasteries and monks were killed, punished and tortured for their way of living, their attire and what not. Dzongsar Monastery was also one of them. It also lead to destruction of the library, which was probably the largest collection of Buddhist texts. The spiritual master also fled and established himself in Sikkim thereafter.
It is currently active as the Khyentse Foundation under Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche since its inception in 2001. The 14th Dalai Lama officially inaugurated this monastery in 2003. It is not just a monastery but a learning institute of Tibetan Buddhism, where over 500 monks from different parts of the world have gathered to imbibe the teachings of the Buddha.
The interiors of the monastery are as calm and soothing as Buddha’s face. There is a huge statue of Lord Buddha illuminated by the golden glow of the sun rays. The prayer flags flutter every now and then producing sounds as if someone has just whispered hymns into your heart.
I got to know that there are various courses and even the PhD. Programmes are also being conducted at the institute. There is a narrow road that leads you to the institute and you can even take your vehicle to the Institute premises. You can carry camera inside the monastery but be advised that it is an educational institute and not a tourist place. Always seek permission before snapping photographs all around.
This monastery is visible from Bir – Billing paragliding site and also from the National Highway near Joginder Nagar. The sunset view of the monastery from the National Highway is mesmerizing and you just can’t help praising the Tibetan choice of colors. The yellow roof of the monastery shines as if someone has poured molten gold on its top. The sun too appears to be setting slowly as if willing to make the best of its dying moments.
There are few other monasteries around that are under construction. The entire town looks like a small Tibetan village. I just hope that it doesn’t become another McLeodganj where the Tibetan Youth don’t want to be a part of Himachal state anymore and want only to be entertained (and to entertain the white skin only) by the foreigners.
Don’t believe me? A walk down the streets of McLo and Dharamshala will be self-explanatory.
(with inputs from Rohit Mathur)