The Dalai Lama
Tibet’s spiritual leader and purveyor of peace
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