BHUBANESWAR: The Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual leader, questioned the practice of prohibiting non-Hindus inside the Puri Jagannath Temple premises and also criticised the Christian missionaries for trying to convert people of other religions.
“In 2010, I visited Odisha and wished to go to the Jagannath Temple in Puri because I have a practice of visiting holy places wherever I go. The local places of worship I go to are churches, gurdwaras, Hindu temples, Buddhist temples, and mosques. I have made pilgrimages to Jerusalem (the holy city of the Jewish), the Syrian Christian Church and the Muslim sacred rock,” the Dalai Lama told to TOI in an interview on Tuesday.
On a two-day visit to India, the Dalai Lama said he cannot change his religion to enter the Jagannath Temple. “They said only Hindus are allowed to visit the temple when I wanted to enter the Jagannath Temple in Puri. Means, in order to make a pilgrimage to the Jagannath Temple, I have to become a Hindu, which is very difficult,” said the Nobel laureate.
Moreover, he also raised questioned on conversions by Christian missionaries. “I never say Buddhism is the best religion among others. I never try to promote it in non-Buddhist countries. I don’t like it when Christians try to convert people. Being secular, like India is a very practical and wonderful place,” he said.
In response to the Dalai Lama’s comment, Jagannath Temple priests said not allowing non-Hindus inside is an age-old tradition.
“Non-Hindus have not been allowed into the temple for centuries and the rule cannot be changed,” said Ramkrushna Das Mohapatra, president of the Daita Pati Nijog (an association of priests).