Always work for those in need: Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya
We are born human beings, and wherever I may be, I will continue to work for humanity, the Dalai Lama added
Bodh Gaya came alive on Thursday with the presence of the Dalai Lama who began his public discourses in the tiny, but world-renowned pilgrim town in Bihar, an annual affair that had been suspended for the past couple of years because of the pandemic.
The Kalchakra Maidan, where the spiritual leader will offer his discourses for the next couple of days, followed by a long life offering ceremony on New Year's Day when lamas will pray for the longevity of the nonagenarian, was jampacked with devotees of all hues, unfazed by the threat of a resurgence of coronavirus.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been putting up at the Tibetan monastery since his arrival here on December 22, reached the venue in a battery-operated vehicle as the audience sat in rapt attention, taking in the solemn prayers blaring through loudspeakers.
The charismatic religious leader, who counts among his followers many celebrities, walked with shuffling steps and a noticeable slouch in his posture, though his famous broad smile was evidently unaffected by the age-induced fragility.
The Kalchakra Maidan was rocked by a low-intensity blast a few years ago, carried out by a Bangladesh-based outfit that sought to avenge atrocities on Rohingyas in Myanmar by targeting the congregation which attracts many pilgrims and lay devotees from the neighbouring country.
The administration was in a tizzy over "preliminary reports" of the presence of a "Chinese national", a woman, in the pilgrim town, triggering concerns of the safety of the Tibetan leader.
"We have some preliminary information about this Chinese woman whose sketches we have released. But there is nothing concrete as of now. Security is very tight in the area around the Mahabodhi temple where the frisking is intensive and the number of CCTV cameras has also been raised," said Harpreet Kaur, the Senior Superintendent of Police of Gaya district.
The congregation went on, unmindful of the hustle and bustle elsewhere, as the Dalai Lama held forth on the twin ideals of Bodhichitta and Bodhisattva, whereby a practitioner works towards one's own Enlightenment and helping others in liberation from suffering.
"If you are a believer, you need to think of others. If you only think of yourself that is not what is expected of you, always work for those who are in need," he said.
"We are born human beings, and wherever I may be, I will continue to work for humanity," he added.
The Dalai Lama, who is known for his infectious sense of humour, laughed heartily on quite a few occasions as he took his seat on a raised platform, with huge drawings of Tibetan tantric symbols in the background.
Known for blending a keen eye for matters of the world with profound spiritual enquiry, the Dalai Lama prefaced his discourse by snacking on Tibetan bread and tea, expounding on the value of having good teeth.