South India Fund

Construction of a Congregational Hall for Kollegal Tibetan Refugee Community in South India

Most are aware that after the communist China’s occupation of Tibet in 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with around 20, 000 Tibetans escaped to India as refugees. Since then many Tibetans escaped and settled as refugees in India, Nepal and Bhutan. However, in the early days, many of them died because of sudden change in weather, food and water.

For the welfare of the Tibetan refugees, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, based on farsighted vision, established many Tibetan settlements and institutions in various parts of India so as to preserve Tibetan culture and language. Through the kind support of
Indian government and international aids, Tibetan refugees have been able to improve their material condition. Yet, in the more remote areas, the material conditions of Tibetan refugees are still very poor. The Kollegal Tibetan refugee settlement is one of the poorest among the Tibetan communities in India. Kollegal is located in southern tip of India in the state of Karnataka, close to Sri Lanka. The condition of basic infrastructure like road, drinking water and electricity is very poor. The settlement has a population of about 6000 Tibetans divided into small villages with around forty-fifty households.

The Settlement does not have a congregational hall that can accommodate a large gathering when spiritual events such as teachings by Buddhist lamas are conducted. As such I have been building a congregational hall that can house around 1000 people. Even though the Tibetans in this settlement are materially poor and have many difficulties with their livelihood, they are very humble, kind and ethical. They showed me so much love and respect. When I gave teachings, many people who could not be accommodated in the small community hall they have pitched tents outside and listened to the teachings. We had many difficulties with this arrangement. Sometimes winds carried their tents. At other times heavy rains soaked their tents wet and water leaked into the tents.

Since I could not travel outside for a year the construction project is facing financial problems. As such I am requesting all of you to contribute however small in the manner of a water drop resulting in the great ocean. The estimated cost comes to around
59,40,000 rupees (Five million nine hundred forty thousand rupees). This comes to US $140,000. The building will have three stories: the first floor will be a congregational hall that can house around 1000 people; the second floor will have guest quarters for visiting lamas, tulkus, teachers and visitors, including bathrooms and kitchens; the top most floor will be temple where practices like offering lamps and silent meditation can be done. The detailed budget has been written elsewhere, so I am not going to repeat it here. I am urging you to contribute, irrespective of how close you feel to this project, to turn this into condition for development of your own virtue and generosity and as a way to help others practice dharma. I am giving you my personal assurance that even a dollar you donated will be wasted and a detailed statement of income and expenses will be posted with absolute transparency.