By Xinhua Writers Zhou
Yan, Wang Hengtao and Niu Qi
LHASA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Tibet has reported success
in a year-long legal education at its monasteries, where monks have been told to
abide by laws and regulations in religious practice, rallies and parades,
officials in charge of religious affairs said Monday.
More than 2,300 officials were
sent to Tibet's 505 monasteries after the deadly riots of March 14 last year to
promote the legal awareness of monks and nuns and dissuade them from being duped
by separatist forces and ensure the normal practice of Buddhism, said Soinam
Renzin, deputy chief of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party
of China (CPC) Tibet Regional Committee.
Gaksong Danba, a lama of Xicang
Monastery, studies at the Monastery Culture School in Luqu County, Gannan
Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in northwest China's Gansu Province on Feb.
27, 2009. To improve the lamas' educational level, Xicang Monastery has
run the culture school since 2007, in which professional teachers are
invited to practice bilingual teaching in the Han and Tibetan
languages. (Xinhua/ Nie Jianjiang)
"Step by step, these officials have built up trust
with members of the monasteries' management committees, who helped explain to
the monks laws and regulations, the nature of last year's violence and China's
religious policy," he said.
They have eventually won the monks' trust by helping
them solve diverse problems, said Soinam Renzin.
"We paid more than 200 visits to
the ailing and elderly monks over the past year, and ensured they got timely and
adequate medication," said Losang Jigme, Tibet's top official in charge of
Tibetan teacher Gazang Gyamco teaches
Tibetan to the lamas at Xicang Monastery Culture School on Feb. 27,
2009. (Xinhua/ Nie Jianjiang)
Losang is heading a legal education team at Drepung
Monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa.
Arthritis and nephritis are the most common diseases
among the monks, as result of their prolonged sitting, lack of exercise and
inadequate clothing -- their robes did little to fend off the bitter cold in
"We invited experts to give a series of lectures on
health care, which received a warm welcome at the monastery," said Losang.
At 82, Shilok Qoi'guai was in poor health and was
sent to hospital three times by Losang Jigme and his team last year.
"Three times, they saved my uncle's life," said
Puncog Gunleg, whose mother is Shilok's sister. "My whole family feels grateful.
My mother told me to abide by laws and repay these people's kindness."
Drepung was one of the three historic Buddhist
monasteries in Tibet's regional capital. After last year's riots, the 15th
century monastery was closed to tourists for nearly five months. Investigators
later found most of the rioters were visiting monks.
Some of the elderly monks at the Drepung complained
to Xinhua that management had been lax at the monastery before the March
"Even the exact number of monks was unknown and for
nearly three years, we were not even able to call up a plenary meeting," said
Ngagwang Domjor, director of Drepung's management committee.
Visitors from other parts of Tibet, as well as
Tibetan communities in the neighboring provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu
often spent years at the monastery, he said.
"Yet sometimes their identities couldn't be
confirmed," he said.
Drepung's annual income, more than 30 million yuan
(4.4 million U.S. dollars) consisting of ticket revenues, alms paid by pilgrims
and earnings from monastery-run shops and teahouses, was all controlled by five
visiting monks, said Ngagwang Domjor.
"These five monks also incited other monks to join in
anti-government riots," he said. "Whoever didn't follow would be alienated by
After the riots, the management sent away about 700
visiting monks back to their home provinces and only the registered 600 stayed
on at Drepung.
The Sera, another major monasteries in Lhasa, cleaned
out more than 500 visiting monks and lodgers in the post-riots head-count.
"On March 10 last year, 13 visiting monks from
Qinghai and Gansu were detained for shouting anti-government slogans in a square
outside the Jokang Temple," said Dainzin Namgyai, head of the legal education
team at Sera Monastery. "On the following day, 340 monks were instigated to join
a sit-in outside the police station."
Badain Lungdog, 81, believes education, as well as
stricter rules, are essential for the younger generation of monks, particularly
those born after 1980, as deviations from the Buddhist commandments are
"Many of them are lured by the material life and
spend too much time at downtown teahouses, restaurants or in front of the
television. Less than 20 percent of them are able to concentrate on the Buddhist
teachings," said Badain Lungdog, who became a monkat Drepung at 16. He was
forced back to secular life during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and
returned to Drepung in 1986.
"The monastery is like a sea, a gathering of many
different tributaries," he said. "We regret to see some monks, instead of
studying the Scripture, get involved in political, and even separatist
activities. They damage the reputation of our monastery."
The Drepung, Sera and Ganden are Lhasa's major
monasteries of the Gelugba School -- also known as the Yellow Sect -- of Tibetan
Buddhism. The school, founded by Tsong Ka-pa, is known for its stricter
observance of Buddhist commandments.
Tibet has more than 1,700
religious sites, accommodating 46,000monks and nuns. Nearly 90 percent of the
region's 2.8 million people are devout Buddhists.