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Dhaka Tribune

Chinese govt blocks Kalachakra teaching by Tibetan Buddhist lama

The sand mandala, a specially designed intricate sand structure representing a spiritual journey, was also destroyed

Update : 29 Jul 2023, 05:23 PM

Chinese authorities in northwestern China's Qinghai province took forceful action on Wednesday, dismantling tents and destroying a colorful sand mandala, thereby halting a gathering where a Tibetan Buddhist lama was scheduled to preach. In an attempt to suppress information about the incident, the authorities also tried to block online photos and descriptions of the event, as reported by two Tibetans with knowledge of the situation.

These actions are the latest in a series of efforts by China to clamp down on Tibetan religious and cultural expressions. In recent years, authorities have enacted stricter laws to control religious teachers' conduct, leading to the demolition of Tibetan religious sites and the closure of religious schools.

The Kalachakra teaching, conducted by Lama Kalsang Tashi Gyatso, the abbot of Athi Monastery in Tsolho (Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture's Mangra (Guinan) county, was canceled by Chinese government officials. The event was supposed to commence on Wednesday, but all related photos and news of the Kalachakra teachings were removed from online platforms. The authorities have even interrogated individuals who shared information about the event.

The sand mandala, a specially designed intricate sand structure representing a spiritual journey, was also destroyed. Sand mandalas hold significant importance in Tibetan Buddhism as an aid to meditation.

The Kalachakra, which means "infinite wheel of time" in Sanskrit, is a sacred event during which crucial Buddhist teachings are imparted to devotees. Only a few qualified Tibetan Buddhist masters, including the Dalai Lama, have the authority to conduct such teachings.

The preparations for the Kalachakra teachings are extensive, as numerous devotees travel from various locations to attend the event. Organizers had spent over $27,700 to secure the venue and had already purchased food supplies and other necessities, all of which went to waste due to the cancellation.

Tibetans in the region had long sought permission from Chinese authorities to organize the Kalachakra teachings by Lama Kalsang Tashi Gyatso. Although the Qinghai Department of Religious Affairs had initially granted permission, the sudden deployment of a large number of Chinese police at the venue forced people to leave.

The Chinese government had previously canceled a similar Kalachakra teaching event in Tsoe (Hezuo) in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, despite the organizers obtaining prior permission.

The abrupt cancellations have left Tibetan devotees disappointed and angered, as they believe that the central Chinese government instructed local authorities to suppress such large religious gatherings.

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