Orissa: Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is in the midst of a four-day inauguration of what is now the biggest monastery in South Asia: the Padmasambhava Mahavihara Monastery, located in Orissa.
Tucked into the Tibetan settlement of the Gajapati district, the newly built and blessed monastery already hosts 200 monks in the five-story structure that overlooks 10 acres. It may seem like a lot of space, but the acreage was put to good use on Tuesday when 5,000 people showed up to hear His Holiness speak to the backdrop of a fresh faced, 21-foot Buddha icon.
His Holiness spoke to those attending about the imminent importance of cherishing and saving Tibetan religious writings, particularly at Tibetan monasteries outside Tibet. His pleas were referenced by talk of religious freedoms, or rather the lack thereof, in Chinese-occupied Tibet, a subject he also touched upon previously during his teachings last week in Bodh Gaya.
He went on to affirm India's approach to religious freedom: ''But India, being a secular country, has given its citizens the freedom to practice the religion of their choice,'' he said.
The monastery, which is named after the guru credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet in the seventh century, is focused especially on salvaging Tibetan script.
The first Rigon Thubten Mindroling Monastery was founded in 1966 and the site for the new Padmasambhava Mahavihara Monastery was given accord by His Holiness himself in 1998. The foundation stone for the Buddhist temple was laid in 2003 and work was completed in 2008. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also scheduled to deliver a public talk at Bhubaneswar on January