Dharamshala: The major priority of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Kashmir visit was to meet the Tibetan Muslim community living in Srinagar. His Holiness previously visited this community in 1975 and 1988.
He was welcomed by Chief Minister Mr Omar Abdullah, along with his Ministers of Tourism, Revenue, Power and others.
On the morning of July 14, His Holiness along with Mr Omar Abdullah and other ministers visited the Tibetan Public School in Srinagar. The Principal welcomed His Holiness with a few kind words and then invited some students to sing an invocation prayer and a song in Hindi at the morning assembly.
A female student then came forth to introduce His Holiness, explaining the three commitments. She then called on all the students to take a pledge to work for happiness in the world, avoid doing harm to others and to promote harmony between religious traditions.
The Chairman of the Tibetan Public School then expressed his gratitude to His Holiness, Sheikh Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah for helping set up the school. The school has 515 students at present and a mixed staff of Tibetans and Kashmiris. He also acknowledged that the school has made much progress since the Youth Association took an interest in running it.
Tourism & Culture Minister, Mr Nawang Rinzin Jora, expressed his admiration that despite living away in exile from his own country, His Holiness has been a tireless champion of peace and non-violence throughout the world. He said that although the school is called the Tibetan Public School, its students and staff include both Tibetans and Kashmiris- a model of harmonious existence.
Speaking in Tibetan, His Holiness stated that he was pleased to see the progress the school has made, remarking on the importance of good education for all human beings, it's benefits that are felt in the family, community and nation. He also spoke about how education is too materialistic in the current times and thus, does not lead to inner peace.
His Holiness talked about the need for secular ethics. He said, "We need to explore how to incorporate such values into our education systems so that as well as training our brains we also learn to train our hearts."
After lunch, His Holiness addressed a delegation of Tibetan Muslim Youth and said that he was happy to be meeting members of a community that had settled in Tibet since the time of the 5th Dalai Lama. He appreciated the fact that the two Muslim communities in Tibet stood by their Tibetan brothers and sisters and continued to use the Tibetan language.
He recalled that in the past there had been Tibetan Muslims working in the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in Dharamsala, which had been a matter of mutual benefit. In his interactions with some of the Tibetan Muslim Elders, His Holiness was effusive in his praise for their continued usage of the Tibetan language along with raising their children to speak it so well.
On his pilgrimage to the local Tibetan mosque, His Holiness recalled that although Tibet was primarily a Buddhist country, its people had respect for all religions, and that the 5th Dalai Lama had provided asylum to Muslims within Tibet. He said that it was only after coming into exile, that he learned about religious conflict in the world. Consequently, he decided in 1975 to make pilgrimages to the places of worship and sacred sites of other religions as part of his effort to foster inter-religious harmony and respect.
Later in the afternoon, His Holiness paid a courtesy call on the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, His Excellency NN Vohra and his wife.
On July 15 His Holiness met with a group of students and government employees from Ladakh.
In the coming days he plans to make pilgrimages to Muslim, Hindu and Sikh places of worship in Srinagar before he departs for Leh on July 18.