More than a thousand Tibetans ordered home by China after traveling to India for an important religious gathering were granted a special audience and teachings this week by the Dalai Lama, Tibetan sources said.
The Tibetans, most of them elderly and coming from the Kham and Amdo regions of eastern Tibet, were received by their exiled spiritual leader in Dharamsala, India, on Nov. 30, a coordinator of the event told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“During the audience, His Holiness gave special advice and religious instruction to all of those who had arrived from Tibet,” RFA’s source, named Choegyal, said.
“Most had come to India to see His Holiness and ultimately to take part in the Kalachakra teachings that will be held in Bodh Gaya, India, in January.”
Kalachakra, which means “Wheel of Time,” is a ritual that prepares devotees to be reborn in Shambhala, a celestial kingdom which, it is said, will vanquish the forces of evil in a future cosmic battle.
The ceremony and teachings are often conducted outside Tibet by the Dalai Lama, who is widely reviled by Chinese leaders as a “splittist” seeking to separate Tibet, which was invaded by Communist China in 1950, from Beijing’s control.
In a bid to reduce attendance at January’s ceremony, officials in Tibetan-populated areas of western China have moved in recent weeks to confiscate the passports of Tibetans authorized to travel abroad, in some cases blocking Tibetan passengers from boarding aircraft flying from Sichuan to Nepal.
Tibetans already present in India and Nepal have meanwhile been ordered to return home, sources say.
Many of those welcomed this week by the Dalai Lama have been told their families will be harmed if they fail to go back, Choegyal said.
“So unfortunately, under this intense Chinese pressure on themselves and their families, most have no choice but to return,” he said. “All are extremely disappointed and sad, and many are in tears at this collapse of their hopes.”
Though most of those attending Wednesday’s reception will now return home—some after briefly visiting Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India and Nepal—a few have decided to stay behind despite the risks, Choegyal said.
“I came from Tibet to see His Holiness and receive the Kalachakara teachings,” one participant said.
“No matter what the consequences may be on my return, even if I am detained, I am ready to face them,” he said.
Reported by Ugyen Tenzin and Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.