An intense fire recently broke out at what is probably one of the holiest sites in Tibet.
The fire at the Jokhang Temple no doubt came as a huge shock for Tibetans.
A number of videos emerged on social media showing the temple being engulfed in flames. The temple is situated in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa and is fondly known as the heart of Tibetan Buddhism. The incident took place on a Saturday, 17 February 2018.
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The Fire At Jokhang Temple Was Not Started By An Arsonist, Tibetan Police Reports
The fire was started in a ventilation chamber at the temple, although the reports claim that there had been no damage to rare treasures during the incident. According to police, none of the sacred cultural artifacts in danger of being burned.
The initial reports from the scene ruled out the possibility of fire being an act of arson. The initial reports also stated that none of the priceless relics were damaged during the fire.
Xinhua quoted the deputy in charge of the Lhasa’s region law enforcement establishment, Li Bin’s statement that had confirmed the temple had not suffered any critical consequences, neither did the relics contained in the temple. He went on to state that even a human-sized statue representing the young Buddha at the age of 12, called Jowo Sakyamuni was undamaged in the fire.
Despite the fact that there had been no casualties or even property damage during the fire, the incident has sparked an outrage among Buddhists the world over, especially in China because the Jokhang Temple is regarded as the most sacred Tibetan temple among Buddhists.
Fire Engulfs The Sacred Buddhist Jokhang Temple In Lhasa, Tibet
The fire is believed to have started in a chamber on the 2nd floor of the temple. The chamber is said to have held ventilation installments. The fire broke out shortly after 6.30pm. The good news is that the chamber contained no relics. For many, the sad news, however, came when they discovered the fire had burned around 200 square feet of the sacred temple.
The official reports mentioned nothing about how or even who started the fire. No explanation was also given regarding the origin of the fire.
While the fire was being extinguished, the fire department that took all necessary action to prevent the fire from spreading. In doing so firefighters removed the roof of the main building. The idea behind the removal of the roof was to ensure the fire would not spread to any area of the temple which contained priceless artifacts.
Plenty Of Non-Believers In The Official Statement
For many, this is where the reports of the fire became interesting. Even though the initial reports issued by the officials stated that none of the relics were damaged in the fire, many were suspicious of the manner in which the situation was handled. Those following the fire, believe there was too much room for speculation.
Many experts as well as Tibetan Buddhists living outside of the country’s borders say they are having a hard time believing the official story.
This is because the Chinese government was very quick and decisive about shutting down the whole incident on every social media platform in China. Officials have censored pictures, videos and forum discussions on the subject, leaving people baffled and even more curious.
The Main Argument Behind The Skepticism Surrounding The Official Reports
An expert in Tibetan history and culture, Robert Barnett, has had plenty to say about this matter. It is also important to note that he used Twitter to speak on the subject, a social media platform which is not available in China.
He stated that he had a source coming to him, saying that the whole thing had been a much bigger mess than what the Chinese/Tibetan governmental bodies are reporting. To be particular, he stated that the life sized 12-year-old Buddha statue (Jowo Sakyamuni) had suffered huge damages, alongside the paintings and smaller objects surrounding the statue.
His (Anonymous) Source Said The Following
“The crown melted, its robes were destroyed, and surrounding images and objects were badly damaged”.
Bernett had also made a bold prediction, stating that China will do everything in its power to hush the news about the fire at the temple. They did so by censoring the online segment and not allowing anyone to get anywhere near the temple. The Chinese are imposing themselves as the Big Brother in this scenario, which according to Barnett is an act of intimidation towards the Tibetans and it could only hurt their future relations