Dalai Lama blames ‘self-centred’ Nehru for Partition, says ‘Gandhi wanted Jinnah to be PM’
Panjim, August 8: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Wednesday said Jawaharlal Nehru had a “self-centered attitude” to become India’s first prime minister even though Mahatma Gandhi was in favour of Muhammad Ali Jinnah taking the top post at that time.
He also claimed India’s partition would not have happened if Mahatma Gandhi’s wish of Jinnah becoming the prime minister had materialized.
The 83-year-old monk was addressing an event at the Goa Institute of Management in Goa’s Sankhalim town, located about 40 km from Panaji.
Responding to a student’s question on taking right decisions, he said, “I feel democratic systems are very good than the feudal system, which gives power of making decisions in the hands of a few people, which is more dangerous.”
“Now look at India. I think Mahatma Gandhiji was very much willing to give the prime ministership to Jinnah. But Pandit Nehru refused,” he said.
“I think it was a little bit self-centred attitude of Pandit Nehru that he should be the prime minister… Mahatma Gandhiji’s thinking, if it had materialised, then India, Pakistan would have been united,” he said.
“So Pandit Nehru, I know very well, (was) very experienced person, very wise but sometimes mistake also happens,” he said.
To a question on the biggest fear that he encountered in life, the spiritual leader recalled the day he had to escape from Tibet along with his supporters.
“On the night of March 17, 1959, after 10th March crisis which was result of the problem that started in 1956, we had to escape,” he said.
Recalling how the problem in Tibet with China had started becoming worse, he said the attitude of Chinese officers kept on being more and more aggressive.
“So then on 17th night, in spite of all my efforts to cool down the situation, that very day, I decided that I cannot remain here and I escaped,” he said.
“(In the) meantime, the feeling whether I will see tomorrow or not topped my mind,” he added.
The monk said the route from where they escaped was quite near the Chinese military base. While passing along a river they could see the military personnel, he said narrating his journey from the neighbouring country into India.
“So we were completely quiet. But we cannot control the noise of horses’ feet. We really felt scared,” he said.
He said next day at the dawn, they were passing through a mountain and there was “every danger” of Chinese soldiers coming from two different places to stop them. “That was a fearful journey.”
“At the age of 16, I lost my freedom. At the age of 24, I lost my country. For 17 years, there was lot of suffering and lot of destruction in the country, but we kept our determination,” the Dalai Lama said.
He said the China’s power is its military force. “We can say from the barrel of gun.”
“Our strength is truth. Temporarily, the power of gun is more decisive but in the long run, the power of truth is much more stronger than the power of gun,” he said.
The monk said Tibetans never consider Chinese people as their enemy.
“We respect them. We always look at them as our human brothers and sisters,” he added.
At the event, he also appealed to Muslims in India to make efforts to reduce Shia-Sunni conflicts that are prevalent in some other countries and asserted that Islam is a religion of peace.
He lamented the bloodshed over denominational differences, which he said should be avoided as Islam teaches compassion and harmony.
The Dalai Lama stressed the need for international brotherhood and harmony. “We are part of the world of seven billion human beings. Sometimes, I suggested that the Indian community in America, England and different European countries should invite some Europeans during Diwali and New Year, and talk about ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) which is the basis of religious tolerance,” he said.
Sunni and Shia are two major denominations of Islam. They chose sides after the death of Islamic prophet Muhammad in AD 632. “Muslims across the globe follow the same Quran and also pray five times a day. However, there are killing each other owing to differences between the sects like Shia and Sunni,” he said.
The Dalai Lama said, “I was in Ladakh. I suggested to Ladakhi Muslims that Indian Muslims should make some efforts to reduce the conflict between Shias and Sunnis”. He told the audience that a national conference of Muslims would be organised in the coming months, which will be followed by a similar convention at the international level. He said modern India has remained by and large peaceful due to the over 1000-year-old history of religious harmony.