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Power supply, healthcare facilities remain concern for Asia's oldest monastery

Tawang: For Asia’s oldest monastery in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang, uninterrupted power supply and accessible medical care remain major concerns.

The garbage left behind by the growing number of visitors in the monastery has also emerged as an area of worry for Abbot Shedling Tulku Thupten Tendar Rinpoche, the head of the monastery.

The Rinpoche, who has completed a year of taking over as the head of the Tawang Monastery, is happy with the monks and learners under him, but other facilities available to them is what concerns him.

The Tawang Monastery is the second biggest and oldest in Asia. It was founded in 1680-81.

Speaking to PTI in his native Tibetan through an interpreter, Rinpoche said, “The monks of our monastery are much disciplined and concentrate on their studies. They have been following the laid-down traditions well enough.”

“For us, one major issue is healthcare facilities. In case of any health-related emergency, our monks have to travel to Guwahati or Tezpur. If the government can ensure similar facilities here, it will be helpful,” the Abbot said.

Guwahati is about 430 km from Tawang while Tezpur is at a distance of nearly 330 km.

The Rinpoche also urged the state government for uninterrupted power supply to the Monastery.

“It is a technology-driven world nowadays and electricity is important. But power supply is erratic. We request the government that if it can ensure uninterrupted supply, it will be beneficial not only for the monks but also for the tourists and VIPs, who frequently come here,” he added.

As the Monastery’s popularity grows and it draws more visitors, the Abbot had a word of caution about the pitfalls that come with more people entering.

“As the number of visitors increases, it has also led to the problem of the people not caring about the environment. People are bringing packets and other such things with them, and littering all around.”

“It makes the place dirty and is bad for the environment too. I request them to take care of this aspect,” the Abbot said, requesting the visitors to be more conscious.

On attracting the young generation to religion, the spiritual leader said the religious teachings have to be blended with a scientific temperament to keep it relevant.

“We cannot make the youth believe in a religion by prayers or parikrama. We have to make them study the religious teachings (scriptures). For the youth to put faith in religion, we have to ensure that we make them study the scriptures in comparison with a scientific outlook,” he said.

“Buddhism is about the journey of mind, consciousness and attainment of enlightenment. Enlightenment is not only about meditation, it is about removing negative thoughts. And we have to make the youth see this aspect,” the Abbot added.

He also stressed that it is important to follow any religion with the focus on concept of how one can help others, and this will keep the followers of a faith together.

(Published 12 November 2023, 07:27 IST)

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