Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh — "We are very fortunate that we Arunachal Pradesh hosted one Kalachakra way back in 1983, that was in Dirang. So after that it has been such a long time we could not host Kalachakra here in Arunachal Pradesh. So during this visit of His Holiness, I on behalf of the people of Arunachal Pradesh and the Mon people, I have requested His Holiness to initiate Kalachakra in the coming years... I am hopeful that the Kalachakra initiation will soon be conferred here," said Honorable Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh.
In the wake of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s week-long visit to Arunachal Pradesh amid much controversy from China, the Tibetan government’s Department of Information and International Relations with Tibet TV online had an exclusive interview with Arunachal Chief Minister, Shri Pema Khandu on April 11th.
Below is the transcript of the interview
Question: What does it mean for you to have His Holiness The Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh after a gap of eight years?
Hon. CM : Yes, in fact I feel very much lucky as Chief Minister, during my time His Holiness has visited our State. And regarding His Holiness’s visit this is not the first time. Actually the request which I had been putting forward started way back 2011 -12. At that time His Holiness assured that, yes, definitely he will visit Arunachal Pradesh since he has a very special connection with Arunachal Pradesh. So, people are very happy, we feel very excited.
Question: We saw people of Arunachal Pradesh from all backgrounds show immense faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama. An image of a 2-year old child praying wholeheartedly has gone viral. How do you think even a 2-year old understands the spiritual importance of His Holiness?
Hon. CM: You know so that’s the speciality about Arunachal Pradesh, particularly the Mon Tawang people. So in fact, we are very much fortunate that His Holiness stepped on our soil way back in 1959 and we had been very fortunate enough to receive his first ceremony here in Tawang monastery. So that becomes His Holiness coming out of the country giving preaching, it was we here in Tawang that we received His Holiness preaching way back in 1959. So I think that the spirit of the people, they have lots of faith in religion and they have tremendous faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Question: What messages His Holiness The Dalai Lama, do you see personally useful in your life, especially in your political life or when you face political dilemma?
Hon. CM: Actually you have asked good question. To me personally, I must say I am very much like you know a great follower of the 14th Dalai Lama. I find him quite genuine with practical mind. So, I belong to a political family. So the moment I became the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, I will give you a little background of Arunachal Pradesh: we are having 26 major tribes and more than 110 sub tribes. So that becomes very difficult for a politician to manage. Sometimes it becomes very, very difficult. At that point of time I always think about the ceremonies which His Holiness has given to me; to be broad minded and to accept and listen to all the problems. So you know in that way I always try to, you know get things clear.
Question:So could you please tell us more about the request you made to His Holiness recently about conferring the future Kalachakra initiation in Arunachal Pradesh specially in Tawang region. So can you please elaborate?
Hon. CM : We are being very fortunate that we Arunachal Pradesh has hosted one Kalachakra way back in 1983, that was in Dirang. So after that it has been such a long time we could not host Kalachakra here in Arunachal Pradesh. So during this visit of His Holiness, I on behalf of the people of Arunachal Pradesh and the Mon people,I have requested His Holiness to initiate Kalachakra in the coming years. The reason why I have been putting this request to His Holiness is that you know people here, whenever people come to me for some other work they would also make it a point to tell me that people out here have lots of faith in His Holiness. So, when I have put forward this request to His Holiness, His Holiness also said, “definitely, I will keep that thing in my mind, but provided everyone you know should learn Bodhi language” which I also insist my own people that since I am Buddhist. So I always request my own people that we should understand, we should learn more about Bodhi. So the government of Arunachal Pradesh has long back introduced Bodhi language in the subjects of schools and all. So now the young generations are having good knowledge of Bodhi as a subject. So in the coming days I definitely, look forward to seeing younger people taking more active participation in learning Buddhism & language. I am hopeful that the Kalachakra initiation will soon be conferred here.
Question: Yesterday afternoon His Holiness visited your late father’s memorial park. So what are your experiences or what personally do you feel about that?
Hon. CM: In fact, my late father was the leader of Arunachal Pradesh and he was a very popular man. He was quite acceptable to all the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, all the people of Arunachal Pradesh and His Holiness always regarded him as a very good friend. And this time it was a great coincidence you know my late father’s memorial has been recently built and His Holiness ‘visit is also just coinciding at the same time. So it’s a blessing you know, especially for the family members. It’s a blessing for us to have His Holiness consecrating the Stupa and inaugurating the museum. So we felt very blessed and lucky.
Question: What has been your most personal and special occasion during His Holiness’ visit to the museum?
Hon. CM: I was there walking along with His Holiness, so at the first moment when there was a very huge poster in which my late father and His Holiness were both standing, so you know it really touched my heart when His Holiness showed his hand and touched my dad’s heart and he just pat for a while, you know that really touched my heart. It was very wonderful.
Question: Across the Himalayan Region, from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, there is historically and culturally a special relation with Tibet. And do you think His Holiness’s relation with Mon region is special?
Hon. CM: Yes, I think so personally. His Holiness has a very special relation with Mon people as I already mentioned that Mon people were the first to receive His Holiness while traveling from Tibet to here in India. So that makes a very big bondage between His Holiness and people of Arunachal Pradesh. Lastly I would also like to express my heartiest thanks to Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay la and his entire team from Central Tibetan Administration and the private office of His Holiness for guiding us, for facilitating us you know His Holiness’ visit here in Arunachal Pradesh and making this program a grand success. Thank you.