Buddhist monks in India pray for quake victims

IANS, March 11, 2011

Dharamsala, India -- Buddhist monks and nuns gathered on Sunday morning in monasteries in India to pray for those who lost their lives in the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan two days ago.

The prayer sessions were held at Himachal Pradesh's Dharamsala town and Bihar's holy town Bodh Gaya, where Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment over 2,550 years-ago.

"Special prayers were held to offer sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims. These were organised at the instruction of (Tibetan spiritual leader) the Dalai Lama's office," said a post on the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Dalai Lama also offered prayers. In a condolence message to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the Nobel Laureate expressed his shock and sadness.

'It would be very good if Japanese Buddhists are to recite 'Heart Sutra' on this occasion. Such recitation may not only be helpful for those who have lost their precious lives, but may also help prevent further disasters in the future,' he said in a message to the Japanese people.

The monks of Namgyal Monastery, Kirti Monastery, Institute of Buddhist Dialectics and Dip Tsechokling and nuns of Geden Choeling Nunnery recited 'Heart Sutra' for the people affected by the tragedy, the website quoted Ven Norbu Dhonden, additional secretary at the department of religion and culture, as saying.

Prayers were also conducted in Tsuglagkhang, the main temple at McLeodganj in Himachal Pradesh.

The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who is touring Sarnath near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh for his annual spring teaching, also participated in special prayers.

'The Karmapa led a special puja on behalf of the earthquake victims at the Vajra Vidya Institute in Sarnath Friday evening,' spokesperson for the Karmapa's office Deki Chungyalpa told IANS.

In Bodh Gaya, about 100 km from Patna, Buddhist monks offered prayers at Mahabodhi temple.

'We have offered special prayers, seeking divine blessing for the safety and security of people from nature fury in Japan,' said Bhante Prayagsheel, a monk.

The 9-magnitude earthquake Friday afternoon set off huge tsunami waves, some as high as 10 metres, that rushed ashore for several kilometres along Japan's northeastern coast, sweeping everything in their path - buildings, cars, ships and people, and killing over 1,000 people.