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24july20102Dharamshala: As chair of a debate on Buddhist philosophy at a school yesterday in the Nubra Valley, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama emphasised the importance for laypersons, as well as monks and nuns, to actively engage with the religious tradition. Describing Buddhism as a symbol of the Himalayan people, he spoke of the duty of his audience to make use of their freedom to express their beliefs, a right that his followers in Tibet have been denied.

Arriving in the region on 20th July, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was greeted by hundreds of followers who gathered on the roadside for his journey from Thoise Airport to Samtanling Monastery holding flower garlands, ceremonial white scarves and incense.

Yesterday's debate was organised by Samgon Jamtse Thosamling School in Sumur, a remote hamlet in Ladakh's Nubra valley established in 1998, where there are currently 45 students learning Buddhist philosophy as well a modern skills such as computing. Discussions were followed by questions to His Holiness on how to become a genuine Buddhist in this modern era, and how religious traditions can be best upheld in the Himalayan regions.

Geshe Yeshi Gyaltsen, a teacher at the school, explained that the occasion was organized in direct response to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's insistence on the responsibility of the Himalayan people to preserve Buddhist tradition, particularly in light of the difficulties faced by those in Tibet for attempting to do the same. Expressing hope that their event would set an example, he said "... the religious debate organised today was meant to be followed in other schools in [the] future".

Increasing measures of discipline imposed on the Tibetan Government-in-exile by the Indian government sparked concern that the trip would be cancelled due to the close proximity of the region to the so-called People's Republic of China. However, permission was granted along with a warning against the Tibetan spiritual leader about going to far in his criticisms of the Chinese regime.

His Holiness traveled to Yarma Gonpo Monastery yesterday evening, after the day's events.

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