Mumbai: On a Monday morning, as the city was getting ready to start another week, a bunch of college students got a chance to hear His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama speak. The man, who is revered for his spiritual insight was seen making conversation with the youngsters in a rather light-hearted vein. The topic of the discussion was “Beyond Religion” and the session truly managed to transcend boundaries.
Hinduism, Islam and Christianity have always had male priests at the helm and the story is no different in Buddhism. The Buddhist community may not have seen a female Dalai Lama yet but His Holiness maintained that the position is always open for a female priest.
In fact, this question dates back to the ’80s. His Holiness recalled an incident where a lady reporter for a Parisian magazine asked him the same question. “My immediate answer was yes, it is possible. If this institution still continues, we can have a female Dalai Lama.”
However, he added, “If we do have a female Dalai Lama, she must be very attractive! Otherwise, I think some people may not pay much attention. I think even if I was like this, (tilts his face towards his neck insinuating a repulsive appearance), some wouldn’t pay attention to what I have to say!” he said with a loud chuckle.
His Holiness offered a pragmatic view, when asked about “the need for oneness in religion”. He attributed the root causes of division of evil to economy, power and politics. The Nobel Peace Prize winner said, “In most cases, religion isn’t the problem.
In some cases, economy and power, too is to be blamed. The problem is also with the view that there is one God and one religion.” He urged that different religions and views should co-exist.
He said, “In terms of religion, one truth is relevant, but in terms of humanity, we need to look at several truths and several religions. This is more realistic. The Indian constitution is based on secularity, and not on Hinduism. This is our reality.”
The 14th Dalai Lama recounted an incident about his interest to meet sadhus in an attempt to enquire about their meditation practices. His Holiness, who has attended the Kumbh Mela thrice, couldn’t attend it last year because of bad weather. He said,
“It seems that Lord Shiva doesn’t want me to attend the festival. Lord Shiva is a permanent resident at Mt. Kailash (in Tibet) and Lord Buddha is a Hindu God from India. It is all so complicated!”
As the society at large continues to battle with gender inequality, His Holiness urged women to unite and make the world a better place. He says, “Women are more sensitive, thanks to biology. Women should take an active role, and work hard to promote affection non-violently.”
And what does he have to say about the eternal battle between science and religion? His Holiness, in his succinct style summed it up saying, “Science concerns matter, and religion concerns insight.”