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India-China, a Temple and Tibet

tintin tibet akshardham templeBuilt on the banks of the Yamuna River, adjacent to the proposed Commonwealth Games village, the Akshardham Temple of Noida is famous for its laser show, musical fountains and also for being a suitable hang out place for lovelorn couples who are always running out of meeting places (a situation very unique to lovers in India). The Lord of the temple house is Bhagwan Swaminarayan, a god that not all its visitors know about of, or whose teachings they might religiously follow. He must be one among approximately (on last count) 330 million gods of Hinduism.

Nevertheless, the temple is a huge draw among tourists and the locals, a fact evident from it’s ever jam packed parking. In summers, bare footed people burn their feet on its graphite and marble floor, just to marvel at the 141 feet house of god.

None of this is surprising.

The thing that is really surprising is:

Communist, Godless/godless and “religion is poison” preaching People's Republic of China has invited the Swaminarayan Trust( the trust that runs Akshardham temples in Noida and in Gandhinagar ) to build a similar temple in China. A large piece of land in Fohsan state being marked as the site for the proposed temple, and it housing an Indian cultural center.

What is the link between a temple built on Yamuna and the People's Republic of China?

Yamuma, a river that some Hindus still regard as Holy (regardless of its ever increasing pollution level) enough to stop their ever fast-faster moving cars at a particular spot on a bridge over it. The railing of the bridge built up into high rising steel wired nets, to prevent people from littering the river water near the bridge. The particular spot being the carved out opening in the net, an opening carved out by the faithful, a hole that no government governing the Indian land, would dare to close. The people stop to drop coins into Yamuna, praying for their wishes to come true and they stop to drop some marigold flowers, carried in poythene bags, into the river as an offering to the river goddess. These are staple food of modern Indian gods — faith, easy growing marigold (not the pink lotus) and polythene: an offering that only a god can digest. Remember the story of Lord Shiva (had he not been a god, he would have been a Chinese citizen (or a Tibetan exilee, depending on the way governments would want us to believe), as his abode Mt. Kailash, is in Tibet) getting a NeelKanth (blue throat) after drinking the poison generated from the process of churning of the celestial sea (Sagar Manthan) in the name of process by the army of the gods and the demons using Vasuki Naag (the celestial serpent) as the rope and Mount Sumeru was the churning staff. I think God is about to get a big lump in his throat this time. Already, one of the minor but important Indian gods, The Holy Cow, keeps trying to digest our roadside offerings of plastic, churning it in its four stomachs and still failing to digest it; and paying a price for our plastic offering to it with swollen bellies and a painful death.

China, the land whose most charismatic leader — the man who made his country take one Great Leap based only on his self-faith — Mao Zedong, after a meeting in 1955 with twenty one year old Dalai Lama, leaned over and whispered to him, with a friendly smile, “ Of course, religion is poison.”

Tibet, the land of origin of one of the holy rivers of India — Indus.

Let’s us look into the history of Tibet and China.

The Fifth Dalai Lama(1617 – 1682), with the support of Mongol military leader Gushri Khan, unified Tibet under the control of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, after defeating the rival Kagyupa sect and a secular ruler, the prince of Tsang. He chose Lhasa as his capital and began to build a palace there, the potala. According to the Italian historian Luciano Petech:
“ The supremacy of the Dalai Lamas over Lamaism , and their temporal power are due to the life work of one of the greatest men Tibet ever produced: the Fifth Dalai Lama…He reached his goal through sheer diplomatic skill.” He expanded his authority through the performance of rituals…and the writing of biographies of his predecessors that stressed the reincarnate lineage.”
The Dalai Lama traveled to China to exchange titles with the emperor, The Shunzhi Emperor, who had recently come to power. With the Chinese empire weak and Tibet protected by Gusgri Khan, the visit was almost a meeting of equals. The emperor was from Qing dynasty that captured Beijing in 1644 and until 1616 was known as the Later Jin Dynasty. Shunzhi Emperor’s father, Huang Taiji changed the name of the dynasty from Later Jin to Qing in 1636 because of the fraternal struggles and skirmishes between brothers and half brothers for the throne. According to Taoist philosophy, the name Jin holds the meaning of metal and fire in its constituent, thereby igniting the tempers of the brothers of the Manchu Royal household into open conflicts and wars. Huang taiji therefore adopted the new name of Qing , the Chinese character of which has the water symbol [ 3 strokes ] on its left hand side. The name, which means clear and transparent, with its water symbol was hoped to put out the feud among the brothers of the Manchu Royal household.

Patrick French in his book, Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land, writes about the visit of the Tibetans delegation to China.

As Manchus, from the north, the Qing had close historical and cultural link with the Mongols.The Tibetan delegation gave the emperor a supply of holy water from the Ganges, sealed vases, which he took to keeping near him whether in his palace or on his travels. Tibetan Buddhism was incorporated into Qing courtly life, but not into the lives of the Confucian civil servants, the masters of Chinese continuity, who continued to look down on all foreign religions.


  1. The Ugly building of Akshardham temple in New Delhi is titled world's largest Hindu temple by the Guinness Book of World Records.


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