30 October 2007
The Chinese authorities in Meldrogungkar has temporarily closed down Pangsa Monastery in Meldrogungkar County, Lhasa municipality, Tibet Autonomous Region (“TAR”) in Tibet according to credible information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
Pangsa Monastery belongs to the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery’s chief relic is a mummified reliquary body of the highly realized Yogi Jampal Gyatso. Je Tsongapa Chenpo (1357-1419), the exalted master and the founder of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism brought the holy reliquary statue of Yogi Jampal Gyatso from his birthplace, Tsonga in Amdo Province along with him when he came to Lhasa, during the 14th century. Since then the reliquary statue of Yogi was housed in the Pangsa Monastery as a chief relic.
Earlier, the Dalai Lama was reported to have preached the benefits of receiving blessings from the reliquary statue of the holy Yogi to Tibetan devotees and practitioners during his religious teachings in India.
In aftermath of the Dalai Lama’s discourse on the sacred nature of the reliquary statue, thousands of Tibetan pilgrims and devotees have been flocking to Pangsa Monastery to receive blessings from the holy relic till date from all parts of Tibet. In one incident, around forty trucks packed with devotees and pilgrims reportedly visited the relic statue every day between August and September 2007. In the last many months, there has been a staggering increase in the number of devotees visiting the reliquary statue at Pangsa Monastery.
The movements of Tibetan devotees in large numbers to the Monastery drew the attention and apprehension of the Chinese authorities. The Chinese government maintains a strict curb and restriction on the large congregation of religious devotees inside Tibet as a standard measure to control Tibetan people and to regulate religious practices.
Particularly, in recent times, the Chinese government has already placed an unprecedented restriction in the movements of Tibetan people inside Tibet particularly in “TAR” in the light of China hosting 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The incident of Tibetan devotees in thousands flocking to the monastery has led to the closure of Pangsa Monastery during the second week of October 2007 in backdrop of China’s usual fear and suspicion over the large congregation of Tibetan people in one place.
TCHRD expresses its grave concern over the outrageous violation of denying the Tibetan devotees and practitioners from enjoying their right to religious freedom and beliefs. The Buddhist culture is an integral part of Tibetan people’s culture and way of life and therefore placing such restrictive curbs only contradicts the spirit of Chinese constitution where the right to religious practice and beliefs is guaranteed to all of its citizens.
TCHRD calls upon the Chinese authorities to immediately lift the closure of Pangsa Monastery and allow the Tibetan devotees to practice their religious beliefs.