“If I have to Choose…”

Hind Swaraj Journey: November 2001

“If I have to make a choice today  between Dahammapad and Hind Swaraj, I will chose Hind Swaraj”, said His Eminence Ven. Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, one of the most revered Budhhist lama and the then Kalon Tripa – Prime Minister – of  His Holiness Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Government –in-Exile, statesman and philosopher. He was speaking at the first Hind Swaraj study camp, November 22-24, 2001, in Dharamsala, to inaugurate the Centenary of Hind Swaraj  programmes by Swaraj Peeth Trust. It was a group of senior Tibetan activists and leaders organized by Friends of Tibet. For Prof. Rinpoche  to say such a thing has since then inspired many within the Tibetan movement, Gandhian movement and in scholarly and other circles here and abroad to study Hind Swaraj.

For a high Budhist lama of his exalted stature, attainment and scholarship to make such a statement is though extra ordinary, it speaks of the centrality of Hind Swaraj in the vision of Tibetan freedom struggle, and perhaps where the Dahmmapd follower must reach, as the followers of any philosophy of life which is not grounded in the centrality the Divine and not of man. Tibetans are a struggling nation. The youth dream freedom.  It has been an important exercise among the activist leaders of the Tibetan movement to explore the real meaning of freedom in terms of Swaraj; ‘rangwang’ in Tibetan.  

Frequent discourses and debates on Hind Swaraj among the Tibetan youth has not only generated deep commitment to this vision, today it is among the Tibetans that Hind Swaraj is alive as a nation’s guiding vision.  Hind Swaraj since then has become a regular feature among Tibetan leadership and activists. A revised Tibetan version of Hind Swaraj done by Shri Tenzin Dhonyoe, a close associate of Ven Rinpoche, was released by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the occasion of the Hind Swaraj International Centenary Conference organized by Swaraj Peeth in November 2009 (http://hindswaraj09.blogspot.com/.)

Following this, FoT, under the leadership of Tibetan youth icon , poet –writer-activist Tenzin Tsundue  spread out to all the settlements of Tibetans all over India to organize Hind Swaraj camps and distributed hundreds of its copies. In one of the study camps conducted by Rajiv Vora, with the inaugural and the Valedictory talk given by Ven Samdhong Rinpoche, then the Kalon Tripa, (PM)  of HH the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Govt in Exile, in its premises in Dharamsala. The participants, while reading and interpreting Hind Swaraj, replaced reference to ‘India’ with ‘Tibet’ and ‘British’ or ‘England’ with ‘People’s Republic of China (PRC)’.  With this change, they said the entire text of Hind Swaraj, except for the mention of certain historical events and names, exactly talks about  the Tibetan situation, Tibetan vision Tibetan path.