Destruction of Buddhist Education Institutes in Tibet – Will China answer?

When the legendary Lama Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok founded the Serther Institute, commonly known as the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, in the heart of the Kham region in 1980, he never expected the Chinese extremists to smash this dream soon after his death.
The life of Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was full of miracles. It is said in ancient Tibetan legends that when he came out of his mother’s womb, he was in a meditation position and recited Manjushri’s Mantra. He used to dream of a place where people from all over the world could come to learn Tibetan Buddhism. He, therefore, chose a location at an altitude of over 13,000 feet, which was full of harmony and tranquility, and he named it “City in the Sky.”
The place that began with a few hundred students later became the largest center of Mahayana Buddhism in 2015, with a student population of more than 40,000. The existence of such a large number of scholars shook the foundations of the Han Chinese government.
A scholar can change the world, as we saw in India in the 3rd century BC when ordinary scholars from Takshashila University shook the entire Indian Subcontinent. The universe recognizes him by the name of “ Chanakya.
So, the fear of the Chinese government was not uncommon, they had to save themselves and the only choice left was to forcibly suppress these scholars. The monastery with crimson-painted houses spread over a large area of the snow-covered Himalayas was to be demolished.
In June 2016, the Chinese government released orders to reduce the number of citizens to 5000 from the current 40,000. The official reason given was overcrowding, but the true reason was well known to the world. It was nothing but fear of being uprooted from Tibet. Overcrowding can not be the cause, as the region was very large and could easily accommodate even a few Lakhs.

Soon the wooden cabins, houses, Small worship places, Eateries & other structures were brought down using chain saws, JCBs, Dozers & other earthmoving equipment. As per estimates, more than 5,500 houses were broken in a short span of three months and more than 10,000 Residents were forced to abandon their studies to return to their native places.

In addition to that more than a thousand Tibetan monks & more than 2000 Nuns were also forced to leave the city.

As per a report published in, the priests and nuns displaced from Larung Gar were taken to correction centers where they were forced to undergo a so-called “Patriotic Re-Education”. The same is happening to Uighur Imams in Xinjiang province.

Within a year, the Chinese Government appointed three of the Communist party officials to head the prestigious “Larung Gar Buddhist Institute”, an education center that was supposed to be headed only by high ranking Buddhist priests.

Not only this, they appointed another three senior Communist Party officials to head “Larung Gar Monastery Management Committee”, an umbrella organization taking care of the residents and religious places.

Not only this, the Chinese government settled a large number of Han Chinese people in this area in the name of tourism. The ulterior motive was to change the demography of ethnic Tibetan people. The Tibetan government in exile protested to the United Nations but had no effect. The voice had fallen to the deaf ears.

Some of the scholars took refuge in another Buddhist education center located about 300 Km away in Yarchen Gar but the shadows of the Chinese Han government reached there too and in 2019, Yarchen Gar suffered the same fate as Larung Gar. All in the name of overcrowding and promoting tourism.

Some of the big questions lie ahead of us. Whether it’s the Tibetan concentration camps, the collapse of revered educational institutions such as Larung Gar and Yarchen Gar, or the massacres committed against the Uighurs in Xinjiang.

(With Inputs from IndiaToday)

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