Forced conversions wrong: Dalai Lama

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Forced conversions wrong: Dalai Lama

Guwahati, Apr 2 (PTI) Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama today denounced conversion of faith by coercion and called it “wrong and not at all good for society”.

“Conversion by coercion is wrong as basically one should be free to choose his/her religion and whether one accepts a faith or not should be an entirely independent choice,” the Dalai Lama said at the ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ River festival organised by the Assam government here.

He, however, suggested that it was better to follow one’s traditional religion as change of religion “creates confusion” but, if an individual does convert, it should be done voluntarily and not by force as “it is not good and should not be done”.

The Dalai Lama said that studying other traditions, their values and traditions was a great way to ensure religious harmony, mutual understanding and respect for others.

“I never propagate Buddhism during my visits to the western countries as I believe it is better to follow one’s traditional religion but one should always study other traditions to develop understanding, respect and compassion for others,” the Nobel laureate said.

The Dalai Lama said the Nalanda scholars of Buddhism had always pointed out the need to study different philosophical thoughts — both Buddhist and non-Buddhist — as this would be helpful in understanding other traditions.

“When I was in Tibet, I thought Buddhism was the best but when I came to India and met Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and people of other faiths, I realised that each tradition has values that need to be understood for promoting world peace,” he said.

The Dalai Lama asserted that both the concepts of ‘One religion-one Truth’ and ‘Several religion-several truths’ were simultaneously relevant and the understanding of these concepts strengthens the bond between different religions.

He further said that he is in touch with professors and scholars of various American universities to prepare a draft for secular ethics and urged Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to introduce it, when it is ready, in a few schools and monitor it for a few years.

“If it is successful, it can be introduced in other schools too as it is very important to educate children from the kindergarten to the University level to bring peace through compassion and love,” the Dalai Lama said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.