Monks in Rebellion

Monks are the last people to inhabit the imaginations of your brain when talks about rebellion take place. How can these peace loving, calm and happy individuals ever display an iota of dissatisfaction at the order of the universe ? Well, as it turns out, certain historical scenarios made being complicit an option not available. This is one such story.
Depiction of Yamantaka in Tibetan Buddhism; Image Source- Buddha Weekly

Depiction of Yamantaka in Tibetan Buddhism; Image Source- Buddha Weekly

Buddhism is generally believed to be a non violent religion but it has certain streaks of violence embedded in it. Buddhism traces its origin back to India but through time it has been exported to many countries in South East Asia where each country adopted Buddhism in its own way.

Tibetan is one such example. Tibetan Buddhism has several examples of gods and goddesses turning violent in order to save the dharma. Examples of this can be seen in idols such as Yamantaka, which is basically a violent incarnation of Bodhisattva Manjushri who wanted to defeat Yama, the God of Death. Bodhisatva are people who are in their way to attain the nirvana attained by Buddha.

These were mythological tales but history repeated itself not more than 70 years ago in what was known as the Tibetan Uprising. This took place in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet when it was under the control of Peoples Republic of China. Monks trained in non violence readily gave up their vows when Tibet and its monasteries were attacked by the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) .

These were innocent and peaceful individuals trained not to hurt a soul but when they saw their dharma under attack from the enforced atheism of communism they vigorously rifled through their scriptures to find justified arguments supporting a monk giving up his vows if he wanted to save his dharma. “Religion was the opium of the masses” in the Communist eyes and thus all religious institutions in and around Tibet came under attack.

Thus these monks disavowed from their religious lifestyle took up arms and found themselves escorting Dalai Lama to his exile. Later on the Indian Army utilized this demographic to fight the Chinese in the Sino-Indian war of 1962. They were jointly trained in high altitude combat by the ClA and the Indian Army and were enlisted in the infamous sector 22. However, these monks, at the end of the day were unsuccessful in protecting their monasteries and dharma, the very reason they relinquished their vows.

Many monasteries in that area were shelled by the PLA and many senior monks died being tortured by the PLA to release information about the whereabouts of the fresh fugitives.

Scenes from Tibetan Uprising; Image Source- BBC

Scenes from Tibetan Uprising; Image Source- BBC


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