Last week I had to make a short trip to India (thus the absence in my blogging here for awhile) where I visited Leh in Ladakh. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was on a visit there. Ladakh borders Tibet and the people there have close spiritual, historical and cultural relationship with the Tibetan people. His Holiness was visiting different parts of Ladakh, including remote areas, visiting monasteries and mosques, and giving religious teachings.
I was able to observe two days of teachings by him and it was reported that more than 35,000 people attended the same. There was virtually a sea of humanity and it was heartening to see the devotion of the Ladakhi people towards His Holiness. I was told that many of these people are nomads who have come to Leh from the northern plains for the teachings. Quite many of them would have trekked overnight or sought recourse to whatever transportation opportunities available not to miss such a sacred opportunity to have a glimpse of the Dalai Lama. The Ladakhi language is based on Tibetan but the dialect is different and so the teachings of His Holiness was being translated into Ladakhi as well as English and Chinese (there were quite a few Chinese-speaking Buddhists there). The teaching site was an interesting social experience to see the attitude of non-Tibetans like Ladakhis towards the Dalai Lama.The above photo of the scene on the day the Dalai Lama arrived in Leh on August 9 is indicative of this attitude. I found the photo on the internet and seek the photographer’s indulgence in using it here.
One evening, I was in the main market in Leh and a colleague pointed out a few people who were standing outside an antique store. They had some rugs in their hand and the colleague mentioned that these are nomads who had come for the teachings and that they were using the opportunity to indulge in some trade.