Monday, 29 June 2015

Aldershot Anti Dalai Lama Protest

I was literally just about to put finger to keyboard to write a short piece on the Dalai Lama's "gig" at Glastonbury when I watched BBC South Today at lunchtime and saw the footage of the protesters at his Holiness's visit to Aldershot.

The group protesting is in fact the International Shugden Community. This is where it gets complicated, and I do mean complicated which is possibly why the Beeb made absolutely NO attempt to explain what the protests were actually about.

In brief, the protesters are part of a fringe group that first emerged from the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism in the 17th century. Gelugpa is the school to which the Dalai Lama belongs.

The original group was part of a faction challenging the 5th Dalai Lama's legitimacy and authority. Among other things, they objected to the 5th Dalai Lama's adopting practices of another school, called Nyingmapa, and they wanted to establish Gelugpa as the only legitimate school of Tibetan Buddhism (there are at least five others).

Today's protesters are distinguished by their devotion to Dorje Shugden, an iconic deity whom they call
enlightened, an emanation of Manjusri Bodhisattva, and even a buddha. However, Dorje Shugden originally was a low-level tantric deity associated with the Sakya school. Until relatively recently, even within the Gelug school he was considered a "worldly" or unenlightened figure charged with the protection of Gelugpa.

(I have quoted the above from an excellent  article by Barbara O'Brien, read the rest HERE.)

“The protesters are from an extremist religious group that is aligned with the political agenda of the Chinese government in Tibet to undermine the Dalai Lama and enforce allegiance to the Chinese Communist party,” said Kate Saunders, the communications director of the International Campaign for Tibet.

Incidently, I was watching the South Today program as it featured an item on the reinstatement of the coast footpath from Totland to Colwell here in the West Wight. The sea wall and its promenade were severely damaged during a landslip in December 2012 leading to a local campaign for repairs.

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