Reprinted with permission from iviews.com

India, Jan. 27 -- (Iviews) The Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of the Buddhist community, recently attacked Islam and Christianity for trying to spread their faith. He joined leaders of the Hindu religion, who were celebrating the Kumbh Mela last week in condemning the Muslim and Christian practice of actively seeking converts.

Kumbh Mela is a Hindu festival of spiritual cleansing that is celebrated once every twelve years by over 50 million adherents who come to Ayodhya to take a dip in the river Ganges.

"Whether Hindu or Muslim or Christian, whoever tries to convert, it's wrong, not good," the Dalai Lama said on Thursday after a meeting with leaders of the World Hindu Council.

The World Hindu Council ironically is an influential group that criticizes Christians and Muslims and yet wants to make multi-religious India a Hindu state by forcing Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism. There are over 150 million Muslims and about 35 million Christians in India. Groups like the World Hindu Council, The Shiv Sena (Army of Shiva), RSS (a Hindu nationalist outfit responsible for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi) and several other militant Hindu groups have recently stepped up their vicious attacks on Muslim and Christian minorities in India. The most egregious of such attacks was the cruel burning alive of an Australian missionary and his two children.

Dalai Lama, a winner of the Nobel peace prize, joined these militant nationalist Hindu outfits and added: "I always believe it's safer and better and reasonable to keep one's own tradition or belief." He spoke after the Hindu Council's general secretary, Ashok Singhal, had said, "Buddhism, Hinduism and other non-aggressive religions have to unite to douse Islam ... an aggressive religion."

The Dalai Lama joined others and signed a statement saying: "We oppose conversions by any religious tradition using various methods of enticement." This strange act of Dalai Lama deserves to be criticized by the international community that has not only respected his struggle against China but also legitimized it by bestowing upon him its highest honor - a Nobel Prize for peace.

It is highly unbecoming of the Nobel laureate and a global spiritual leader to show up on the same stage with people who have the blood of hundreds of people belonging to India's religious minorities. He did not even use the occasion to call for peace and harmony in India where the rise of Hindu nationalism and its vicious campaigns have made the lives of Muslims and Christians and their mosques and churches unsafe.

Just two months ago the Pope had to make a special plea to the Indian Prime Minister to protect Catholics, their religious leaders, and their churches from arson and periodical attacks by Hindu militants.

The Dalai Lama had nothing to say about these matters at all. He even did not object to Ashok Singhal's call for Buddhism and Hinduism to join hands to "douse the Islam".

I wonder what they mean by "dousing Islam"? What means are they thinking of employing to douse Islam? The Hindu militants have used violence, arson, rioting, destruction of mosques and even systematic massacres (like the massacre of 3000 Muslims in Bombay in 1992) to repress Muslims in the recent past. They have also burned churches, killed Christians and burned missionaries alive to douse the growth of Christianity in India. Is the Dalai Lama endorsing these methods?

Will we see Buddhists joining Hindu militants in lethal attacks on Muslims and Christians? Buddhism is a faith of non-violence and we may not expect active violence from them. But the Lama's oversight in not condemning the recent attacks on religious minorities in India and his sharing of the podium with the most intolerant of Hindu groups is not less than violence. He is giving international credibility to religious bigotry.

Evidently the Dalai Lama has forgotten that Buddhism, an Indian religion, spread in China and the Far East through conversion. One wonders why Buddhism, which for so long was a major religion of India, now has only a token presence. Maybe the Dalai Lama would like to explain why and how, along with Islam and Pentecostalism, Buddhism is one of the fastest growing faiths in America, especially in California. Maybe the rest of the Buddhists do not share their leaders antipathy to conversion.

Indeed, the Dalai Lama's declarations in India are clearly disingenuous. He seems to have forgotten the history of the religion he heads and does not even factor the global activities of his flock while making public statements. He is also developing a bad taste when it comes to making friends.

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