Shewatsel, Leh, Ladakh, UT, India - This morning, on the fourth anniversary of the granting of Union Territory (UT) status to Ladakh in 2019, His Holiness was presented with the Ladakh dPal rNgam Dusdon Award, which celebrates the historical importance of Ladakh. The ceremony was held by the Union Territory Administration at Sindhu Ghat, on the banks of the mighty Indus River, which is known as the Sengé Tsangpo in Tibetan, near Leh. The proceedings were led by Mr Tashi Gyalson, Chief Executive Commissioner and Chairman of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Shri Umang Narula, Advisor to Union Territory of Ladakh, and other officials.
The Award was given in recognition of His Holiness’s all-encompassing compassion, his promotion of peace and harmony and his efforts to preserve Tibet’s rich Buddhist cultural heritage. It also represents the people of Ladakh’s deep gratitude for His Holiness’s unparalleled role in helping them preserve their cultural heritage, as well as their sense of pride in their relationship with him since his first visit in 1966.
This day also incidentally marked the 400th anniversary of the accession of King Sengé Namgyal to the throne of the then Kingdom of Ladakh.
Among the speakers was Shri Umang Narula, IAS, Advisor to the UT Ladakh, Shri Jamyang Tsering Namgyal MP, and Shri Tashi Gyalson, Chairman, LAHDC. They expressed admiration for the Indus River, the vital lifeline flowing through Ladakh. They also extolled the qualities of the people of Ladakh, many of whom have excelled in their respective fields, including the defence of the nation. The speakers expressed deep gratitude to His Holiness for his dedication to the promotion of peace and love in the world, for his wisdom and compassion and for the affection he has shown them, which is a great source of inspiration to the people of Ladakh, both young and the old.
His Holiness opened his remarks with the verse of salutation found at the end of Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Treatise of the Middle Way’:
I pay homage to the Gautama
Who, moved by compassion,
Taught us the sacred Dharma
To rid us of all distorted views.
He added, to introduce himself, a verse from Tsongkhapa’s ‘Praise to the Incomparable Teacher, the Buddha, for Teaching Dependent Arising’:
Becoming ordained in the way of the Buddha,
not being lax in study of his words,
and by yoga practice of great resolve,
this monk devotes himself to that great purveyor of truth.
He explained that he is also someone ordained in the way of the Buddha, who for decades has not been lax in study of his words, and who has continued, even after coming into exile, to study the teachings contained in the Three Baskets and the treatises composed by Indian and Tibetan masters that elaborate on them.
His Holiness explained that the reason for studying the teachings of the Buddha is to discipline the mind. He stated that this is his own his practice and that cultivating the altruistic awakening mind brings inner strength and a determination to work for the well-being of all sentient beings, which in itself brings about peace of mind. He clarified that his other principal practice is to examine the way beings and phenomena exist in the context of Middle Way Consequentialist (Prasangika Madhyamika) view. Thus, he explained how he disciplines his mind and emotions by combining the awakening mind of bodhichitta with an insight into the status of beings and things as being merely designated.
His Holiness cited the renowned verse from Shantideva’s ‘Entering into the Way of a Bodhisattva’ as a great source of courage and peace of mind:
As long as space endures,
And as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
To help dispel the misery of the world. 10/55
With regard to his dedication to keeping the teaching of the Buddha alive, His Holiness cited a verse from the Dedication Prayer at the end of Tsongkhapa’s ‘Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’:
May I, being strongly moved by great compassion,
Illuminate the precious teaching [of the Buddha],
The treasury of well-being and happiness, wherever it has not spread before,
And wherever it has declined, having spread before.
He declared that he was pleased to accept the award bestowed on him by people whose faith and trust in him are unshakable.
“Tibetans and the people of Ladakh enjoy close relations,” His Holiness affirmed, “because we share the same Buddhist culture, and this great River Indus, the Sengé Khabab that flows between us.
“I really appreciate the excellent harmony and friendship that prevails among the various religion communities in Ladakh. All these religious traditions emphasize the importance of helping others and, since we all wish to be happy, we must work to maintain harmony among us, conscious of the oneness of humanity.
“In addition to this, I urge you to plant and take care of trees, which is one positive step we can take to address the threat of global warming that puts the whole of humanity at risk. We have a responsibility to future generations to take care of the environment while we can today.
“Since Ladakh is not as wet as Dharamsala during the monsoon, I hope to be able to continue to visit Ladakh regularly in the future—therefore, I look forward to seeing you again.”
Councillor Ven. Konchok Stephen brought the occasion to an end as he offered thanks to His Holiness, the various speakers, dignitaries and cultural performers, and all those who contributed to making the event a great success.