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Dalai Lama Undertakes First Visit to Sikkim in 13 Years, Embarks on Pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrives in Bodh Gaya on 15 December. From

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has embarked on an itinerary of teachings and public appearances across India this month that has seen him travel from his official residence in Dharamsala to visit Sikkim for the visit time in 13 years, and then to West Bengal, followed by Bodh Gaya, where he arrived on 15 December. 

The Tibetan spiritual leader, who this year turned 88, has reduced his public travel schedule in recent years, partly as a consequence of COVID-19 and due to caution over his health and advancing age. The Dalai Lama’s previous visit to Bodh Gaya in late December 2022 to January this year was his first in almost three years because of the pandemic.* His Holiness’s only other major public appearance outside of Himachal Pradesh this year was in Ladakh in July/August.

On 11 December, the Dalai Lama traveled to the far northeastern state of Sikkim, sandwiched between Nepal and Bhutan, for a three-day visit—his first since 2010. While there he gave a teaching on Gyalse Thokme Zangpo’s ”Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas,” which was attended by some 40,000 people. His Holiness had to postpone an earlier planned visit to Sikkim in October due to devastating flash floods.**

From Sikkim, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate flew to Salugara in West Bengal on 14 December, where he gave a public teaching for estimated 30,000 people and presided over a Ceremony for the Generation of Bodhicitta at Sed-Gyued Monastery.

“These days I try to make people aware that all eight billion people alive on this planet were nurtured by their mothers, His Holiness observed during his teaching in Salugara. “In this respect we are all the same. Every human being on this Earth survived after they were born because someone showered them with love and affection—a mother’s love. Remembering this and building on it will contribute to ensuring peace in the world. Indulging in negative emotions like anger and jealousy will not. Just thinking of other people as being the same as you is a step toward peace.

“We may have different cultures, different ways of organizing our lives, or different ideologies, but in the context of the oneness of humanity, as human beings we are all the same.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)

The Dalai Lama arrived in Bodh Gaya on 15 December, and is expected to remain there into early January.

On 16 December, His Holiness made a pilgrimage to Mahabodhi Mahavihara, where he completed a circumambulation around the sacred temple, smiling and waving to the well-wishers assembled outside. At the Bodhi tree, he greeted devotees were conducting the Kagyu Monlam ceremony, before proceeding to pay his respects at the temple’s inner sanctum.

“I feel very honored to pray in front of this very special Buddha statue at this very sacred place,” the Dalai Lama told media representatives. He also acknowledged that the global climate crisis was becoming a growing problem around the world, noting, “We are fortunate to be able to pray to the Buddha that we may overcome these difficulties.” (Central Tibetan Administration)

His Holiness in the inner sanctum of Mahabodhi Temple. Photo by Tenzin Choejor. From

Today, the Dalai Lama inaugurated the three-day International Sangha Forum 2023 at the International Convention Centre Bodhgaya, which runs from 20–22 December on the theme “Bridging Traditions, Embracing Modernity: A Dialogue on the Buddha’s  Teaching in Today’s World.” The convocation has been organized by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), and is being attended numerous senior monastics and heads of Buddhist institutions, as well as delegates and guests from 33 countries.

“The primary focus of the conference will be to augment ongoing dialogue and collaboration among practitioners of the Pali, Sanskrit, and Tibetan Buddhist traditions,” the Central Tibetan Administration stated. (Central Tibetan Administration)

For the remainder of his stay in Bodh Gaya, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to participate in a World Peace Prayer Session at the Mahabodhi Stupa on 23 December, followed by three days of public teachings at the Kalachakra Teaching Ground from 29–31 December, and is due to attend a Long Life Prayer offering on 1 January, also at the Kalachakra Teaching Ground.

* Dalai Lama Returns to Bodh Gaya for the First Time in Three Years (BDG)

** Dalai Lama Expresses Solidarity after Deadly Flooding in Sikkim, Pledges Financial Support (BDG)

See more

Arrival in Gangtok, Sikkim (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama Receives Rousing Welcome in Sikkim (Central Tibetan Administration)
Teachings at Salugara (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama Conducts Teachings at Salugara (Central Tibetan Administration)
Pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Temple (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama Arrives in Bodh Gaya (Central Tibetan Administration)
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Makes Pilgrimage to Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar (Central Tibetan Administration)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Inaugurate First International Sangha Forum (Central Tibetan Administration)
Schedule (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)

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