December 13, 2004
"In 1959 when we came into exile, the only acquaintances we had were the sky above and the earth below," the Dalai Lama said at India's largest Tibetan resettlement camp in Bylakuppe in southern Karnataka state.
"But with the passage of time we managed to have more sympathetic supporters and friends who strongly extended their support in preserving our Tibetan spirituality and help fight for our rights," said the Buddhist leader who was recognised as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama at the age of two.
"Support for the Tibet cause is growing everywhere. It's a positive change we've been able to achieve during the past 45 years of our struggle," he told an audience gathered for weekend celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize.
India has played host to the Dalai Lama, 69, and his Tibetan government in exile since he fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. Thousands of other Tibetans also have sought refuge in India.
"There's even a growing interest among the young Chinese on Tibet," said the Dalai Lama who is waging a non-violent campaign for greater autonomy in his homeland. "I hope some positive result will happen in the long run."
Tibetan exiles have long accused Beijing of trying to wipe out Tibet's Buddhist-based culture through political and religious repression and a flood of ethnic Chinese immigration.
Beijing wants the Dalai Lama to stop what it sees as his separatist activities, although he says he recognises Tibet as a part of China.
Over 10,000 monks, nuns, men sporting colourful Tibetan hats, and women, some with children on their laps, listened in rapt silence to his speech at a monastery in Bylakuppe, 230 kilometres (140 miles) southwest of Bangalore.
Some monks dressed in maroon-coloured robes climbed rooftops while others stood outside the main gates to catch a glimpse of the Dalai Lama. The monastries were awash with green and yellow banners welcoming him.
The settlement houses more than 20,000 Tibetans. Another four settlements are around Bylakuppe, housing another 20,000 Tibetans.
"Support for the Tibet cause is growing everywhere. It's a positive change we've been able to achieve during the past 45 years of our struggle," said the Dalai Lama whose Tibetan speech was translated into English.
The Dalai Lama's government-in-exile is headquartered in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala. Saluting India, he called it a "second home".
"We came into exile to a land which is known as the 'Land of Superior Beings,'" he said. "We've inherited all our deep philosophical way of life, non-violence and compassionate way of life from India."
"It was in a way returning back to home. Despite finding it tough being a refugee, due to the values we have inherited, we came to our second home."
Direct contacts between the Dalai Lama and Beijing collapsed in 1993 and were renewed only in 2002.
He appealed to young Tibetans refugees, most of whom have shed traditional values for jeans and T-shirts, to practise "moral ethics".
"You're the future generation of Tibet. You're the ones who will enter the 21st century and you have a very big responsibility," he said.
"When we arrived in India there were only about 300 monks. They went through the most difficult period. Some were taken ill, some died. But they helped to preserve our religion which is flourishing everywhere."
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