The Dalai Lama

Ti­bet’s spir­i­tual leader and pur­veyor of peace

Asian Geographic - - Profile -

spir­i­tual leader of Ti­bet, His Ho­li­ness the 14th Dalai Lama, Ten­zin Gy­atso, was born on July 6, 1935. He was recog­nised as the rein­car­na­tion of the pre­vi­ous Dalai Lama at the age of two. The Dalai La­mas are be­lieved to be man­i­fes­ta­tions of Aval­okitesh­vara or Chen­rezig, the Bod­hisattva of Com­pas­sion and the pa­tron saint of Ti­bet. Bod­hisattvas are in­spired by a de­sire to at­tain Bud­dha­hood with the pur­pose of be­ing re­born in the world to help hu­man­ity. His monas­tic ed­u­ca­tion cul­mi­nated in a Geshe Lharampa de­gree – the high­est doc­tor­ate in Bud­dhist phi­los­o­phy.

In 1950, China in­vaded Ti­bet, and the Dalai Lama as­sumed po­lit­i­cal power. Af­ter nine years of op­pres­sion, protests erupted in the cap­i­tal, Lhasa, against the con­tin­ued pres­ence of the Chi­nese in the coun­try. The re­bel­lion failed, and led to a bru­tal crack­down on in­de­pen­dence move­ments. Forced to flee, the Dalai Lama estab­lished the Ti­betan gov­ern­ment in ex­ile, the Cen­tral Ti­betan Ad­min­is­tra­tion, in Dharam­sala, north­ern In­dia, where he has been based since.

The Dalai Lama has cam­paigned ex­ten­sively for the free­dom and democrati­sa­tion of Ti­bet. His 1963 “Char­ter of Ti­betans in Ex­ile” out­lined guide­lines for an ad­min­is­tra­tion. In 1992, this ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased guide­lines for a free Ti­bet, with the aim of elect­ing a con­sti­tu­tional as­sem­bly. Lob­sang Ten­zin was elected as Chair­man of the Cab­i­net in 2001 – a mile­stone for Ti­bet, as the peo­ple elected their po­lit­i­cal leader.

In 2011, the Dalai Lama re­quested that he re­tire from his tem­po­ral author­ity, announcing that he was end­ing the tra­di­tion by which Dalai La­mas had gained and wielded author­ity in Ti­bet. He re­sumed the sta­tus of the first four Dalai La­mas, con­cern­ing him­self with spir­i­tual af­fairs. He was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize in 1989 for his com­mit­ment to seek­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween Ti­bet and China, de­spite bru­tal vi­o­la­tions.

His at­tempts to re­store peace and hu­man rights set ne­go­ti­a­tions in mo­tion, but the pro­posal was re­jected by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. ag

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