DHARAMSALA, Apr 24: “One day the Chinese government will discover that freedom is cheaper than oppression”, said Arch Bishop Reverend Desmond Tutu at Upper TCV School, Dharamsala.
The South African Nobel laureate was visiting the school on Apr 23 with the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to celebrate the latter’s 80th birthday and interact with school children.
Tibetan students dressed in traditional Tibetan attire sang a Tibetan song celebrating His Holiness’ birthday and a Tibetan version of ‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands’ as the two octogenarian Nobel laureates were being escorted to their seats in the midst of school children.
His Holiness spoke on the significance of religious harmony in achieving genuine harmony, compassion and kindness in this world. He told the students to focus on their studies and wisely utilize the opportunity of studying in a free world with all the facilities at their disposal, thanks to support from the Indian government and supporters from across the world. He also stressed on the importance of Tibetan language which has preserved the ancient Buddhist science of mind, which has been attracting a number of scientists, scholars and intellectuals from across the world.
“The Buddhist philosophy of caring for others with compassion and kindness is preserved in the unique Tibetan language. Though the Tibetan language doesn’t have much utility in fields such as commerce and modern studies, study of the human mind and how it functions, about which there aren’t many experts these days, are preserved in the unique Tibetan language. As scholars and scientists with broader understanding of the world realized that the human mind is the source of all the problems in this world, they are showing great interest in the Buddhist science of mind which is preserved in the Tibetan language,” His Holiness told the students.
Arch Bishop reverend Desmond Tutu who was visibly happy smiled, laughed and often resorted to squealing to express his happiness and joy. Recalling how the system of oppression and injustice ended in his native South Africa and the eventual release from prison of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, Tutu told the students not to lose hope and that one day they too will see a free Tibet.
“We in South Africa lived for many years under a system of injustice and oppression. Many of our leaders and young people went into exile. It seemed as if the chains of oppression would never be broken, that our prisoners on Robben Island would never come home. And yet…..(squeals) it happened,” Tutu said adding “In 1995, our beloved Nelson Mandela and the others were released and the exiles came home. One day, you too, all of you, will see your beloved Tibet again. You’ll be free of the oppression that has driven you here.”
“The Chinese government will discover that freedom is actually cheaper than oppression,” he further added.
Expressing deep honour to be counted as a friend of His Holiness, Tutu said: “I also want to thank the Indian government and the Indian people who opened their arms to welcome you because they preserved for us a great treasure that would have otherwise been lost.”
“One day we will be singing and dancing on the streets of a free Tibet,” Tutu said concluding his address.
The two Nobel Peace laureates then answered questions from the students on a wide range of subjects, including eradication of violence, world peace, anger management and role of religious leaders in protection of environment.
Following the question and answer session, students sang ‘We are the world’ led by a band on the stage. Arch Bishop Tutu joined the students and shook a leg as the song was being played. Tutu followed it up by leading the students and others at the event in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to His Holiness as a large white cake was placed before the two Nobel laureates, creating an atmosphere of pure joy and happiness.
Two school children were called on to help the octogenarians blow the candles and the cake was cut and distributed among the students, guests and the public.
Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, who was received personally by His Holiness at the Gaggal airport on Apr 19, is on a seven-day visit to Dharamsala to collaborate on a book titled ‘Book of Joy’.
This is the Arch Bishop’s second visit to Dharamsala.