His Holiness the Dalai Lama Meets with Participants in Tibet House’s Nalanda Courses

International Desk, Barta24.com
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This morning, despite the continuing unseasonable cold and wet weather, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with almost 500 students who have recently graduated from or are currently studying in the Nalanda Masters Course, the Nalanda Diploma Course or the Nalanda Diploma course offered by Tibet House, New Delhi. At present there are more than 4000 students from 98 countries enrolled in courses run by Geshé Dorji Damdul from Tibet House

Dr Kaveri Gill introduced the students and staff of Tibet House to His Holiness and thanked him for sending them a teacher of such calibre as Geshé Dorji Damdul.

Geshé Dorji Damdul then offered three statues and a framed poster related to the Nalanda Courses to His Holiness. He expressed heartfelt respects to His Holiness, to the Sikyong, Penpa Tsering, and to Vice Chairperson of Tibet House, and former Indian Foreign Secretary, Dr Nirupama Rao.

“All of us are your students,” he told His Holiness. “We seek to learn from you. In the last century Mahatma Gandhi was the champion of non-violence—‘ahimsa’, but in the present century His Holiness, is the champion of compassion—‘karuna’.”

He paid tribute to everyone who has helped create the programmes at Tibet House and mentioned Tempa Tsering, Jetsun Pema and Doboom Rinpoché in particular. He also acknowledged that nothing would have taken place without the generous support of the Government of India’s Ministry of Culture and expressed gratitude.

“We are trying to carry forward the torch of compassion and wisdom that His Holiness has held high by promoting fundamental human values. With the help of Telo Tulku we have also recently extended activities related to the Nalanda Courses to Russian-speaking people.

“It is to our hope that universal ethics will be adopted by the United Nations. We pray that world leaders may learn from His Holiness as we aim to achieve peace, freedom and security. May the world continue to enjoy the sunlight of your leadership.”

Mr Deepesh Thakkar, Chief Coordinator of the Nalanda Courses, saluted the chief guests and explained that Tibet House had set up long, medium and short courses of six years, 14 months and one and a half months respectively, to suit their students’ needs. The first group to complete the Nalanda Masters’ six-year course have recently graduated.

Thakkar remarked that Geshé Dorji Damdul had been a guiding light. He noted that among the students there are twice as many women as men and the students’ ages range from 14 to 80 years old.

“We aim,” he asserted, “not to propagate Buddhism but to share the knowledge it vouchsafes to help as many people as possible to be happier, kinder human beings. We thank His Holiness from the bottom of our hearts and also express gratitude to the Tibetan people dedicated down the centuries to preserving the Nalanda Tradition. We pray that His Holiness live long and request that we may continue to receive teachings from him.”

His Holiness addressed the audience, smiling. “Good morning my Dharma brothers and sisters. It’s good that we have this opportunity to meet. Thank you to everyone who has worked to organize it. Having been in exile so long I’ve met so many different people on occasions like this and we have learned from each other.

“Regarding the teaching of the Buddha, Jé Tsongkhapa wrote at the end of his ‘Great Treatise on the Stages to the Path to Enlightenment’:

“Wherever the Buddha’s teaching has not spread
And wherever it has spread but has declined
May I, moved by great compassion, clearly elucidate
This treasury of excellent benefit and happiness for all.

“Places where Buddhism has not spread include Europe and so forth. In the past, people living in those countries only paid attention to their own religious traditions, but these days many are taking an interest in other traditions, particularly the spiritual traditions of India.

“The essence of the Nalanda Tradition is not ritual and prayer but being able to transform the mind. We set up Tibet House so people could learn more about it. Tibet was not always Buddhist, but became so in the 7th and 8th centuries when our kings took an interest. King Songtsen Gampo commissioned a new Tibetan script modelled on the Devanagari alphabet. Consequently, when Shantarakshita came to the Land of Snow at the invitation of King Trisong Detsen, he was able to recommend that Indian Buddhist literature be translated into Tibetan. The result is the Kangyur and Tengyur collections.

“King Trisong Detsen also organized a debate between Kamalashila, who was Shantarakshita’s student, and representatives of the Hvashang Chinese monks. He judged that Kamalashila was able to provide extensive explanations of what the Buddha taught, whereas the Chinese monks were largely focussed on meditation.

“Shantarakshita and Kamalashila established an approach to study and training that involved developing understanding by reading and listening, deepening that understanding through reflection, using reason and logic, and acquiring experience of it in meditation.

“In due course, the great monasteries of Sera, Ganden, Drepung and Tashi Lhunpo became centres of learning where monks studied the great treatises and then used logic to explore what they had learned in debate. Buddhism flourishes in several countries today, but only Tibetan Buddhism presents a comprehensive explanation of what the Buddha taught. Moreover, when scientists want to learn more about what Buddhism has to say about the workings of the mind, they take an interest in the Tibetan tradition.

“It’s because we rely on reason and logic that we have been able to contribute something to the welfare of the world in the context of secular ethics.”

His Holiness mentioned how keen he is to encourage inter-religious harmony. He acknowledged that different spiritual traditions may adopt quite different philosophical positions, but what they all have in common is an emphasis on cultivating a good heart. He noted that India is an exemplary nation where all the world’s major religious traditions flourish side by side. He reiterated what had already been said about the Nalanda Courses being much less about people becoming Buddhist and much more about their being able to enrich their own practice and faith with what they are able to learn from the Nalanda Tradition.

Although Tibet House representatives had requested that His Holiness give an oral transmission of Jé Tsongkhapa’s ‘Three Principal Aspects of the Path’, he announced that on this occasion he would prefer to give the transmission of Jé Rinpoché’s ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’. He quoted a verse towards the end of this work in which Tsongkhapa expresses his intention:

Becoming ordained in the way of the Buddha
by 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. 53

His Holiness revealed that he too feels great gratitude and devotion to the Buddha because it is by relying on his teaching that he has been able to cultivate the aspiring mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness.

“Even as a child,” he added, “I had a propensity not to simply accept what I was told. I felt a need to question and investigate it. As someone with the name Dalai Lama I can’t make use of conventional weapons, but I can argue. And I can use my intelligence to investigate the teaching of the Buddha and explain it to others. Questioning and investigating are at the heart of the Nalanda Tradition.

“I received the transmission and explanation of ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’ from the Khunu Lama Rigzin Tenpa.

“Dependent arising defines the Buddha’s teaching,” His Holiness declared. “Of the two syllables of the Tibetan term for this, ‘ten-jung’, the first means dependent and the second, arising. This gives us an insight into reality. Everything is dependent. Nothing is independent. Things arise in dependence on other factors. Since nothing is independent, everything comes about through dependent relationships.”

His Holiness drew attention to two early verses that praise the Buddha:

This teaching is not seen in the works of others,
the title of Teacher, therefore, is yours alone.
Given to others it is but the hollow flattery
of a fox being hailed as a lion. 7

Greatest of teachers! Greatest protector!
Speaker supreme!
Guide supreme!
I bow to the teacher of dependent arising! 8

“We are all followers of Buddha Shakyamuni,” he proclaimed, “and the best way to repay his kindness is to cultivate the altruistic mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness. This is what I do, and because of these practices I feel at ease.”

His Holiness answered several questions from the audience, who were then gathered in groups to have their photographs taken with him.


Where the sun does not set at night!

Feature Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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We all know that 24 hours day and night. After the tiredness of the whole day, we sleep at night, waiting for a new dawn. But think once, where the sun does not set, how will the new dawn come? Or where there is no night, when the people will sleep to remove the tiredness of the day? Do you think there is a place? Not unreal, there are places on earth where the sun never sets. After a long sleep where people do not see the dawn.

In today's discussion, we will know some places in the world, where the sun does not set even at night!

Norway: Norway is called the land of the shining sun. The country's geographical location makes it different from other countries in the world. From May until the end of July, the sun does not set in the Norwegian sky. As a result, Norwegian people do not see the night for two and a half months! Another specialty of the country is that the sun can be seen on the horizon even at night from the port of Hammerfest, Norway, as it is located in the Arctic region.

Nunavut, Canada: The Canadian territory of Nunavut is located 2 degrees above the Arctic Circle. The sun does not set here for about two months of the year. Not only that, the sun cannot be seen for 30 consecutive days in this place during winter. That is, the people here live under the shadow of the sun for two months on the one hand, in the same way they have to live in a long night for a month.

Iceland: Iceland is famous for its absence of snakes and mosquitoes. After Great Britain, Iceland is the largest island in Europe. The sun can be seen in this island even at night in June.

Barrow, Alaska: The sun is visible in the night sky from late May to late July (summer) in this area of Alaska. There is the reverse side of the coin! Not only does the sun never set, there are continuous nights here from early November to early December. That's why this place is also known as 'Polar Nights'.

Finland: Finland is called the land of thousand lakes and islands. The sun does not set for 73 consecutive days during summer in this European country. Similarly, the sun does not appear here for 32 consecutive days in winter. Because of this strange natural disparity, most people in that country believe that people sleep more in winter and less in summer.

Sweden: We all know that 365 days make up a year. But Sweden's year ends in one day! Because half of the year is day here, the other half is night. Even pulled again! So taking the day and night as the sun, it can be said that the year in Sweden is spent in one day! And people here spend half of the year in the dark and the other half in the light.


The United States informed Canada about Nijjar's murder

International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Diplomatic relations between India and Canada are on the verge of ending over the death of Indian pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Both countries have expelled each other's diplomats.

In this situation, the New York Times report claimed that the United States had provided information to Canada about the killing of Nijjar. Through that information, Canada found India's link in Nijjar's murder.

The New York Times report, quoting an official from the 'Five Eyes Partners', an alliance of intelligence agencies from the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, claimed that US intelligence provided information to Canada immediately after the assassination. However, at that time the US was not aware of the possibility of India's involvement in the killings.

Meanwhile, Trudeau claimed on Saturday that Canada had sent information to New Delhi about the killing of Nijjar a few weeks ago. However, India said that Canada could not provide India with any evidence against the information.

On the other hand, Canadian intelligence claimed that Nijjar was a cleric. In response, New Delhi said Nijjar was not a religious guru, but a murderer.

According to India, Nijjar became the head of the Gurdwara by scaring his brother Raghbir.

Hindustan Times reported that pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead inside the Gurdwara on June 18. Hardeep was shot more than 20 times.

According to reports, Nijjar lived in the Punjabi-dominated Sari region of British Columbia, Canada. Hardeep was behind the Khalistani protests in front of the Indian High Commission in Vancouver, Canada in the past few years.


Russia has allowed Bangladesh to trade in Russian currency

News Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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The Russian government has allowed the country's banks and financial institutions to transact in Russian currency.

This information was reported on the official Facebook page of the Russian Embassy in Bangladesh on Saturday (September 23).

According to the information given on the Facebook page, Russia has allowed 30 other countries to trade in ruble currency except Bangladesh. The countries are - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Algeria and Bahrain.

Also included are Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Qatar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Oman and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Vietnam are also allowed to trade in ruble. However, Argentina, Hong Kong, Israel, Mexico and Moldova have been excluded from the list.

Recently, before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to Dhaka, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that the discussions on commercial transactions in the country's single currency have been going on for quite some time.


The Trudeau-Nijjar Saga: Canada’s Compromise or Oversight?

International Desk, Barta24.com
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The Sinister Shadow of Nijjar

At 46, Nijjar wasn’t just a member of the local Sikh community; he was a terror mastermind with deep roots in Khalistani extremism. A fugitive from India, Nijjar had been prominently linked to multiple terrorist organizations. As the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), his hands were stained with the plotting of the Hindu priest’s assassination. He also associated himself with the Sikhs For Justice, another notorious extremist group, orchestrating anti-India activities. His social media pages? A veritable library of sedition, hatred, and attempts to ignite communal discord.

Nijjar’s terror lineage is not just a smattering of isolated events; it’s a chronology of grave acts of violence that have left an indelible mark. The 2007 bomb blast at Shingar cinema in Ludhiana? Orchestrated by him. The cold-blooded assassination of Rashtriya Singh Sangat’s President, Rulda Singh, in 2009? His doing. A conspiracy to eliminate Hindu priest Kamaldeep Sharma in Jalandhar, the explosion at the Satya Narayan temple in Patiala in 2010, and the plotting of the assassination of spiritual leader Piara Singh Bhaniara – all bore the unmistakable touch of Nijjar’s terror designs. Even as recently as 2015-16, he directed Mandeep Singh Dhaliwal to target Shiv Sena leaders.

And the global community took note: on 01 July 2020, a red corner notice was issued against him, designating him as an ‘Individual terrorist’ under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). This was not merely a rogue individual but a calculated menace with a track record to match.

Canada’s Troublesome Liaison

For years, Nijjar had spun a web of lies to evade Canadian immigration authorities. Portraying himself as a victim of police torture, he used fabricated letters and even staged a sham marriage to stake his claim to residency in Canada. Although his stories were often rejected, he still managed to operate under the Canadian radar, even identifying himself as a citizen.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s acknowledgment of Nijjar as a Canadian citizen in his recent statements, therefore, stands as an unsettling testament to Canada’s potential complicity in sheltering extremists. While Canada has a proud tradition of supporting human rights and providing refuge to those in need, harbouring individuals with clear extremist ideologies is a different ball game.

Embracing such individuals doesn’t just imperil Canada’s national security. It sends out a stark message to the global community: that Canada might be becoming a safe haven for those with extremist views. In trying to appease a select few, Trudeau risks compromising Canada’s standing on the global stage. The lack of support from G7 allies, evident by their refusal to issue joint statements against India, underscores this sentiment.

Safeguarding Canada’s National Integrity

It is an age-old principle that harbouring a snake can endanger the one providing shelter. With Nijjar’s extensive violent background and the current geopolitical scenario, Trudeau’s allegations against India without substantial evidence run the risk of painting Canada in a precarious light.

Canada, known for its majestic landscapes, multicultural ethos, and global diplomacy, should remain a beacon of hope, not a refuge for extremism. It’s high time the Canadian leadership differentiates between genuine asylum seekers and those with sinister motives. After all, the safety and reputation of a nation should never be traded for political appeasement.