China pressure forces sudden closure of Larung Gar abbot’s international centres

Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy in Serta, eastern Tibet.

DHARAMSALA, 4 Dec: China is suspected to have pressured the closure of the Bodhi Institute of Compassion and Wisdom, a worldwide network of Buddhist centres set up by the Larung Gar abbot Khenpo Sodargye.

The Larung Gar abbot Khenpo Sodargye announced the sudden closure of his centres in a statement he issued on Larung Gar’s website in Chinese on 30 Dec 2019 citing ‘illegal activities’ were carried out in his name.

Khenpo Sodargye’s statement read that some people have “undertaken different activities in the name of the Institute,” adding that Sodargye finds it disheartening that some of them are engaged in “illegal activities.”

The Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet(ICT) however suspects Chinese pressure behind the entire episode following its interaction with a Chinese disciple of the abbot residing in the West.

While the announcement of the closure is true, the reasons provided were “clearly” written by Sodargye under the direction of Chinese authorities, ICT quoted the unnamed disciple as saying in its report.

The Chinese disciple has stated in the report that he received information from inside China stating that Sodargye and the other abbot of Larung Gar, Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro, were separately interrogated by Chinese authorities in November 2019 and that the closure is related to these interrogations. 

Coincidently,  Khenpo Sodargye’s statement closes with a pledge of loyalty, a leap out of Beijing’s page.

“I will continue to love the nation as well as the religion and be in the service of faithful public. I hope faithful public will remain honest and be law-abiding,” it concluded.

The abbots, disciples of Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, the founder of Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy in eastern Tibet the report said have been making international travels in recent years giving talks on Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy.

The closure, ICT says is an effort to restrict Sodargye’s growing religious and moral influence; the abbot featured on the cover of Chinese magazine Renwu Zhoukan (People Weekly) in 2014.

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