People should have freedom to choose religion: Dalai Lama

Indo Asian News Service
Dalai Lama

Guwahati, April 2 (IANS) Opposing religious conversion, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday said forcible conversion is not good but people should have the freedom to change their religion voluntarily.

"Basically, whether you accept a religion or not is up to that particular individual. There has to be complete freedom so that he can choose his religion," said Dalai Lama while responding to a query about forcible conversion. He was at the ITA centre for performing arts in Guwahati where he interacted with a large crowd.

"I am a Buddhist but I never propagate Buddhism in the West. Change of religion also creates confusion sometimes. So I do not support forcible conversion but if someone wants to change his religion voluntarily, there should be freedom," he said.


The Tibetan spiritual leader visited the ITA centre for performing arts as part of his visit to the ongoing Namami Brahmaputra festival.

He expressed his happiness over coming to Assam and the northeast and recounted his memories when he arrived in Assam from Tibet in March 1959 fleeing a Chinese crackdown that followed a Tibetan rebellion.

The Dalai Lama also became emotional when the Assam Rifles authorities presented before him one of the five Assam Rifles jawans who had escorted him from the Tibet Border to Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh.

"I am extremely happy to meet this old man who had escorted me in March 1959. I am very happy. This was about 58 years back. You must have been retired now. Looking at your face, I am now feeling that I have also grown very old," said the Dalai Lama while breaking into laughter.

He suggested to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to implement the secular ethics of education, which the exiled Tibetan government in Dharmasala has been drafting with advice from some US universities and scholars.

"I'll send you some copies of the draft secular ethics of education. You can implement it in one or two schools here," he said and added that it is the need of the time to change the world for a peaceful and happier one by changing the human being's mind.

He also expressed concern over water pollution across the world and said rivers are very sacred in Tibet.

"When I came out of Tibet, I realised that water is being polluted. In Tibet, we can drink all water but outside I was told not to drink due to pollution. Life of crores of people depends on these rivers and everyone has the right to protest against pollution of rivers," he said.


Asserting that he was the longest guest of the Government of India, Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel laureate the Dalai Lama on Sunday said now he is paying back for the gesture by becoming the messenger of
Indian culture.

"Physically, for the last over 50 years, my body is surviving on Indian 'dal' and 'chapati'. So, physically and mentally I am an Indian. I am the longest guest of government of India for the last 58 years and am now paying back for that gesture by becoming the messenger of Indian culture," he said while delivering a lecture on
'Ancient Indian Knowledge in Modern Times' here.

He said, "For the last few years, I have started describing myself as the son of India. A few years ago, some Chinese media came and asked why I say so. I told  them that each part of my brain is filled with Nalanda thoughts."

The Nobel Peace prize winner said that women should take more pro-active role in social life.

"Women should take more active role for human compassion. My first teacher was my mother, not anyone else. Females are biologically stronger," he added. (ANI)