Free Press Journal

Bhopal: ‘Religion cannot be source of happiness, secular underpinning is vital’


BHOPAL: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has said that religion cannot be the source of happiness for any society. “Any endeavour to make the people at large happy has to have a secular underpinning,” the 82-year-old Buddhist monk said.

Presenting his recipe for making India a happy country, he said, “The outdated and terrible caste system has to be banished and tolerance inculcated.”

The Dalai Lama was speaking on ‘The Art of Being Happy’ at a function organised by the newly-constituted Anand department of the state government at the Vidhan Sabha auditorium here on Sunday. He also released the ‘Anand Calendar’ of the department.

The auditorium was chock-a-block with bureaucrats, police officers, Buddhist monks and commoners. Hundreds of people stood outside, watching the Dalai Lama speak on huge LED screens.

Finance minister Jayant Malaiya filled in for CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who flew to Lucknow to attend the swearing-in of Yogi Adityanath.

The Dalai Lama said shedding negative emotions like fear, anger, hatred and jealousy was a sine qua non for being happy. “Replace them with virtues like friendliness, contentment, self-discipline, forgiveness and altruism and you will be happy”, he said.

The Dalai Lama said that happiness was a not a function of material possessions. “The owner of a fleet of cars and a huge mansion can be a very unhappy man while a man who can barely make the ends meet can be an extremely happy one”, he said. Happiness, he said, is not something that you can buy from a supermarket.

The Dalai Lama said all love and compassion were basic human instincts. “When you ignore the poverty, the senseless bloodletting and the starvation around you, you are suppressing your basic instincts,” he said.

He said that religion cannot be a vehicle for happiness. “Of the 7 billion inhabitants of this earth, 1 billion are atheists. How will we make them happy if we decide that only religious teachings can bring about happiness?” He said.

He said anyone who thought that he was superior to others could never be happy. “If I would have thought that being the Dalai Lama, I am a privileged person and so I should not mingle with the commoners, I would have been a lonely and unhappy man.”

Earlier, addressing the gathering Vidhan Sabha Speaker Sitasharan Sharma, quoting from Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas said poverty was the biggest pain and the company of saints was the biggest pleasure in the world. “And today we are happy to have the honour of hosting one of the greatest saints of this world,” he said.

Malaiya said the state had progressed materially over the last decade or so but that did not mean that the people were happier. “That is why, we have decided to constitute the Anand department.”

In his elements

The unassuming Dalai Lama brought smiles to the faces of the audience during his speech. Before beginning his speech, he covered his balding head with wet towel. “This is my standard weapon to combat heat,” he said, before breaking into a toothless grin. And then, while recalling how he pulled the moustaches of his father as a child, he actually pulled the moustaches of Sitasharan Sharma, sitting beside him. “When I smile, people reciprocate with a smile. If they don’t I tickle them,” he said, and promptly tickled Sharma. And finally, when the finance minister sought his leave as he had a pressing engagement and began to walk away, he called him back and reminded him to take his water bottle and the ‘Anandam Calendar’ gifted to him along. A smiling Malaiya obliged.

Participates in Narmada Yatra

The Dalai Lama participated in the Narmada Seva Yatra at Turnal village near Nemavar in Dewas district earlier in the day. He was accompanied by the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Addressing the gathering, the Dalai Lama said that trees, water and air are our heritage and we should protect and preserve them. “I never use a bath tub. I only take shower,” he said, emphasising the need to save water.

Praising the Narmada Yatra, he said the chief minister’s endeavour was admirable. But, he said only speeches and pious protestations won’t do. “We will have to work hard to make the environment and water clean.”  He said it was important that the rural areas got the same facilities as the urban ones. “Every citizen should get clean air, potable water and nutritious food,” he said.