Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh): Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Monday called for universal brotherhood and peace among all communities as he addressed more than 30,000 devotees in India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.
`Compassion and peace are the two words that should be remembered by all," the Dalai Lama said at the opening day of the three-day religious discourse at the Polo Ground in Tawang.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, who arrived on a weeklong visit to this strategic Indian border state Sunday, had raked up a controversy by hitting out at China during two separate interactions with journalists on the first day of his trip.
The Dalai Lama said Chinese opposition to his visit to Arunachal Pradesh was "totally baseless" and was on expected lines and nothing "unusual".
I`m not encouraging separatist movement in China: Dalai Lama
He also charged Beijing of unnecessarily trying to accuse him of encouraging a "separatist movement" in Tibet.
Beijing had opposed the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh as it lays claim on the territory.
India and China fought a border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian troops. China has never recognised the 1914 McMahon Line agreed between the British and the then Tibetan rulers and claims 90,000 sq km of territory, that includes nearly all of Arunachal Pradesh.
Thousands of followers, including monks donning maroon robes and some foreign devotees, listened to the Dalai Lama's preachings sitting on the ground under a clear sky.
"The congregation was huge and it should be around 30,000 to 35,000 people already inside the ground," said T.G. Rinpoche, a local Buddhist spiritual leader.
Earlier, the Dala Lama inaugurated a multi-speciality hospital in Tawang. He had contributed Rs.2 million towards its construction.
Images: Dalai Lama gets a touching welcome at Tawang
"The hospital would go a long way in meeting the healthcare needs of the local people," the Dalai Lama said.
The religious discourse at Tawang would continue till Wednesday.
The Tibetan leader would then visit the adjoining towns of Bomdilla and Dirang Nov 12, before leaving for state capital Itanagar Nov 14. The visit ends Nov 15.
On Sunday, the Dalai Lama had stressed that his visit to Tawang was "non-political".
It was through Tawang, a revered seat of Buddhism, that the Dalai Lama escaped the Chinese to enter India where he set up base in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh.
Tawang is also spiritually important for the Tibetans as the sixth Dalai Lama was born in the 17th century at the Urgelling Monastery near here.