After 50 years, Dalai Lama visits BORI

Indian Express, March 27, 2007

Spiritual leader reads rare Tibetan manuscripts, promises to start Buddhist studies

Pune, India -- The visitor's book at Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) has a blessing. It says, “With my sheer hope that this Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute will grow and proliferate much.” It is signed by the Dalai Lama.

Monday was a day of nostalgia for Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. In 1956, as a 21-year-old leader with the burden of fellow Tibetans on his shoulder, he had visited the country on being invited by the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti. At that time, he had visited Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune where his photographs were taken.

Fifty years after that visit, he was back at BORI, leafing through the albums and looking at rare manuscripts.

Though he could not fully recollect the visit, the photographs revived his memory. The photographs and Tibetan texts he saw at the institute, made him decide that the Sarnath-based Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies would collaborate with BORI. He pitched for it when honorary director of BORI M G Dhadphale expressed the desire to introduce Buddhist studies at the institute.

The Dalai Lama promised all help to the institute.

The spiritual leader also remembered other things about Pune. He spoke about Pune-based scholar of German V V Gokhale, a professor at Fergusson College, who also served as a representative of the British Government at Lhasa.

He read from several priceless Tibetan books that were brought by Gokhale to Pune and preserved at BORI.

“He was very happy visiting BORI. It was an informal visit,” said Srikant Bahulkar, chief editor, Rare Buddhist Texts, Research Unit, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, who was at the institute on Monday.

He stressed on the need to reading the Buddhist philosophy in a strife-torn world and exhorted people to read the three Tripitakas.