Sichuan’s Larung Gar Buddhist Academy Braces For Direct Party Control
Tibetan monks and nuns at Sichuan’s Larung Gar Buddhist Academy say the appointment of ruling Chinese Communist Party members to key positions at the institute will severely impact one of the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Aug. 20 announcement that six Party members, all of them Tibetan, will now manage the day-to-day affairs of the Buddhist study center, already reeling from the destruction by authorities of thousands of monastic dwellings and expulsion of monks and nuns, has demoralized many of those left behind, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“[Larung Gar’s] monks and nuns are really worried, and do not want to see government officials appointed to this Buddhist institution,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“So far, this institution has flourished under the guidance and instruction of learned Buddhist teachers and lamas,” the source said. “Our future study of Buddhism is now sure to face major obstacles once lay government officials begin running its affairs.”
“It is useless to express our pain and agony at this constant interference, though,” he said.
Many thousands of Tibetans and Han Chinese once studied at Larung Gar Academy in Sichuan’s Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county, making it one the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.
At the end of June, a senior abbot at the center said that Chinese authorities had destroyed 4,725 monastic dwellings over the course of a year at the complex, with a total of more than 7,000 demolished since efforts to reduce the number of monks and nuns living at the sprawling center began in 2001.
More than 4,825 monks and nuns have also been expelled since 2016, the abbot said, with many forced back to their hometowns and deprived of opportunities to pursue religious studies.
Meanwhile, authorities in Sichuan have begun demolishing 2,000 residences of Tibetan clergy at the Yachen Gar Buddhist Center in Palyul county and are set to expel an equal number of monks and nuns from the complex by the end of the year, Tibetan sources told RFA in an earlier report.
The move by authorities in Sichuan’s Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture to appoint six Party members—five men and one woman—to administer Larung Gar will now further undermine the influence and authority of the study center’s own abbots, the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said last week.
“Clearly [they] will be made subservient to the whims and fancies of the Chinese Communist Party members,” TCHRD said.
(Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.)
(Destruction of monastic dwellings at Larung Gar is shown in a recent photo. Photo: RFA)