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Dalai Lama Should Be Allowed to Visit Lanka as Buddhist Pilgrim:Former Diplomat

By P.K. Balachandran, Indian Express, 21st March 2015

New Delhi, India -- Former Sri Lankan Consul General in Sydney, Bandula Jayasekara, has suggested that the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, be allowed to visit Sri Lanka purely as a Buddhist pilgrim and on the strict condition that he talks no politics while being here.

The former diplomat was commenting on the controversy kicked up by an invitation to the Dalai Lama to visit Lanka. Many Lankan officials feel it will annoy China which sees the Tibetan monk as a separatist and a terrorist.

Jayasekara, who is the only Sri Lankan to have interviewed the Dalai Lama for a newspaper, told Express here on Saturday, that anybody should be able to worship at shrines of his or her religion, irrespective of political affiliation.

"The Dalai Lama should be able to worship at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and at the Mahabodhi tree at Anuradhapura, as a Buddhist monk.This could be done without publicity.He could be sent back immediately after the completion of the pilgrimage," Jayasekara said.

He pointed that all Catholics can go to Vatican irrespective their political affiliations.Likewise, all Buddhists should be able to visit the Temple of the Tooth and the Mahabodhi tree, he said.

Jayasekara recalled the Dalai Lama telling him in his interview in 1998, how eager he was to visit the Temple of the Tooth, and how sad he was that he was not able to.

Efforts of Buddhist monks to invite him to Lanka had been rejected by the governments of the day which did not want to annoy China which was seen as Sri Lanka' s  all weather friend and an effective backer in international fora.

"However, Buddhists should not lose sight of the fact that it is the Dalai Lama who has taken Buddhism to the West.Today, it counts among its adherants, celebreties like Steven Seagal and Richard Gere," Jayasekara said.

CONVINCING CHINA

The Lankan diplomat believes that it should be possible to convince China about the reasonableness of his proposition.

"The Dalai Lama is but an elderly Buddhist monk wanting to visit two of the most sacred places in Buddhism," he pointed out.

China is also a repository of Buddhism, and the Chinese should have no difficulty in understanding that compassion and forgiveness are the very basis of Buddhism, Jayasekara argued.

However, adding a word of caution, he said that all this should be done in a way that does not alienate China which has been the most steadfast supporter of Sri Lanka.



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