A senior abbot of Sichuan’s Larung Gar Buddhist Academy has asked monks and nuns at the institute to remain calm and focus on their studies during a visit on Thursday by a top leader of the province sent to check on the progress of demolition at the complex.
“Tomorrow [March 30, 2017], the head of Sichuan province is coming to review the demolition work begun on March 24 by Chinese government workers and laborers,” the abbot said in a March 29 talk to his followers, a recording of which was obtained by RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Since most of the members of our community are young, you should all concentrate on your religious practice and studies and remain peaceful,” the abbot said.
Following the expulsion in 2016 and early this year of over 5,000 Larung Gar monks and nuns and demolition of their homes, about 2,000 dwellings are left to be destroyed, with work scheduled for completion by April 30, sources said in earlier reports.
“These have been tough and hard years four our monks and nuns, both mentally and physically,” the abbot said in his remarks. “We have only a month left to go now, so all must be very careful and remain patient and tolerant.”
Many thousands of Tibetans and Han Chinese once studied at Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county’s sprawling Larung Gar complex, which was founded in 1980 by the late religious teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok and is one of the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.
A government map of Larung Gar marks out houses designated “illegal” and remaining to be torn down, the abbot said on March 29.
“All these houses are to be demolished according to the plan, with any house constructed but not shown on the map also deemed illegal,” he said.
The expulsions and demolitions at Larung Gar, along with restrictions at Yachen Gar, another large Buddhist center in Sichuan, are part of "an unfolding political strategy" aimed at controlling the influence and growth of these important centers for Tibetan Buddhist study and practice, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in a March 13 report, "Shadow of Dust Across the Sun."
"[Both centers] have drawn thousands of Chinese practitioners to study Buddhist ethics and receive spiritual teaching since their establishment, and have bridged Tibetan and Chinese communities," ICT said in its report.
Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.