INDIA and Pakistan would have remained one had Jawaharlal Nehru humbly accepted Mahatma Gandhi’s choice of Muhammed Ali Jinnah as the country’s first prime minister, believes Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
The 14th Dalai Lama was in Goa to give a keynote speech on ‘Today’s relevance of India’s Ancient Knowledge’ at Goa Institute of Management which is a partner with The Dalai Lama Centre for Ethics and Transformative Values at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Responding to a question by a student on how to overcome emotions and avoid making wrong decisions, the Dalai Lama said it was important to respect opinions of stakeholders and analysing all ends before making a big decision. Explaining it in a the larger context of democracy, he looked at benefits of referendum where every opinion matters. “I feel feudal system caused much war,” he explained.
“In a way, now look back India, Mahatma Gandhiji very much was willing to give prime ministership to Jinnah. But Pandit Nehru refused. I think Pandit Nehru was little bit self-centred: ‘I should be prime minister’, If Mahatma Gandhi’s (wish) materialised then Indo-Pakistan (would have been) united. Pandit Nehru, I know very well, very experienced person, very wise, but sometimes mistakes also happen. So u see responsibility is on your shoulder. Analyse, ask opinion, then take decision,” he answered.
In his keynote speech, the Dalai Lama touched upon many aspects of emotional consciousness and admired India’s transcendental learning of linking consciousness from previous life to next life, or what Indians “simply define as ‘atma’.”
“Only India has the ability to combine modern education and ancient education about mind, emotion,” he said. “India’s tradition is secular. Secular and based on moral principles and not developed in religious beliefs. This country practiced shramasana and vipassana, meaning single and analytical point of meditation, even before Buddha came. Modern India doesn’t know much about these things, logically modern education was introduced by British. Now its time to introduce this (to) British themselves, Europeans, Americans.”
He also took the opportunity to appreciate Indian Muslims for their religious tolerance, as he asked them to reach out to “Muslims in Afghanistan and Syria and convey to the Muslims across countries abroad that Sunni and Shias can co-exist peacefully like in India, without killing each other.”
Recalling the night of March 17, 1959, when he had to cross over from Tibet to India, the Dalai Lama said: “60 years since, there is lot of suffering, lot of destruction inside Tibet. But we keep our determination, the basic thing. The Chinese communist, their power come from force of military, a barrel of gun. Our strength comes from truth. In the temporary run, power of gun is more decisive, in the long run, power of truth is.”
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