MAQU, Gansu Province, April 11, 2008 -- A revered living Buddha in northwest China's Gansu Province appealed for greater efforts on education in ethnic Tibetan areas as the ethnic group's prosperity lies fundamentally in improving its literacy rate.
"What the rioters did is neither rational nor lawful," Garzang Chinlai, the most revered living Buddha in Xiaxiu Monastery in Maqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, told reporters on Thursday.
"If they really meant to do good to Tibetans, they should have done something to promote education rather than hurting people and damaging properties."
The 81-year-old noted that Buddhism preached performing good deeds and refraining from harming and killing people. "A Buddhism-believer is not meant to commit violence. It was illiteracy and ignorance that allowed some people to join the rioters blindly."
In the early 1980s, he said, herders lived sparsely in the plateau region and they wouldn't send their children to distant schools in the vast county.
Concerned with the state of primary education, he visited almost all the herdsmen's families in the county one by one, trying to convince them to send their children to school.
With his efforts, the Mainrigma boarding school was set up in the grasslands, 70 kilometers from the county seat, with the living Buddha as the honorary headmaster.
"An ethnic group's language and characters hold the group together," Garzang Chinlai said. "That's why I devote my life to promoting education to boost our culture."
Apart from his education efforts, he was also concerned with the knowledge of monks.
"Monks should also have the desire to acquire literacy, act on morals and make progress. They should practice Buddhism and never get embroiled in violence."
The Xiaxiu Monastery currently has 225 monks, none of whom participated in the riots.
Journalists from 11 foreign media organizations visited Gannan for four days after riots ravaged the prefecture last month to witness the damage themselves.