The Dalai Lama is Tibet’s leading political and spiritual leader, who was forced to leave his homeland in 1959 due to the unrest caused by the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949. The Dalai Lama is very important to Tibetan society, he is revered as the supreme leader of Tibet, as he is believed to embody the ideals of Buddhism that govern Tibetan society. The Chinese occupation of Tibet and their aggressive and hostile actions have made it a dangerous place for the Dalai Lama. The Chinese invasion has had a dramatic impact on Tibet’s society, it has lead to the death of over one million Tibetans and the destruction of land and sacred sites.
The Dalai Lama has been honoured as the supreme leader of the Tibetan people both spiritually and as the head of their government for centuries, he is the most significant person in Tibetan Culture. Buddhist Tibetans customarily believe that he is the reincarnation of his predecessors, a long line of spiritual leaders who have been re-born to help enlighten others. When the Dalai Lama dies High Buddhist priests begin looking for clues and omens that will lead them to the next Dalai Lama.
After the death of the 13th Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatso in 1933 the Priests set out to find his successor, their search lead them to the house of Tenzin Gyatso,(born Lhamo Thondup) who came from a poor farming family, he was born on the 6th of July 1935 in a Taktser, a small village in North-eastern Tibet. After he successfully completed a number of tests set out by the priests He was formally recognised as the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of four. He began his schooling at the age of six and was taught by the Buddhist monks. His education consisted of “metaphysics, arts and crafts, medicine, dialects and Sanskrit, the language of Buddhism. Through his youth, the Dalai Lama was taught how to successfully lead Tibet. Tibet was an independent and peaceful country governed by the Dalai Lama until the invasion by the People’s Liberation Army of China in 1949, which caused him to flee the country because it was unsafe for him to live there. Up until the 1950’s much of Tibet’s culture and traditions were secret. Tibet intentionally distanced itself from the rest of the world as they wanted to shield themselves from desires and materialistic attitudes of western society, the Dalai Lama states that in the long run it has not helped them.
Tibet’s isolation has been one of the factors for the Chinese invasion, their independence from China has never been officially acknowledged by the rest of the world. “Tibetans claim that Tibet is a separate nation with a distinct culture, yet the Chinese claim that it is a minority member of the Chinese nation with a local variation of a common culture”. Over the centuries the borders between the two countries have been somewhat changeable, both countries have at one time or another crossed over each other’s borders. In 1949 under Mao Tse-tung, China launched an invasion of Tibet.
Buddhism is the primary religion in Tibet, it is a pacifist religion, and all living things are considered equal in value. They don’t believe in killing any life form or using aggression, although in life threatening situations there are exceptions. After the People’s Liberation Army defeated the Tibetan army in a battle at Chamdo in October, 1950 the Chinese Army took over the country they began to move troops over the borders into Tibet. Even if Tibetans wanted to use violence to reclaim their country they would not have the weaponry or the training to do so.
The Chinese outnumbered Tibet in population and resources. At the time of the invasion the Tibetan army had only 8,500 men, while the Chinese People’s Liberation Army had 80,000 men. To the Chinese Tibetans were poisoned by their religion and as they infiltrated Tibet they did their best to diminish the people’s access to the Dalai Lama. The Chinese put a ban on any ceremonies that related to the Dalai Lama. Chinese troops moved into Lhasa, the Tibetan capital and filled it with red Chinese flags and pictures of Mao Tse-tung.
Since the invasion begun the Dalai Lama has tried to negotiate peacefully with the Chinese, but they have not accepted any of the peace plans that he has presented. Talks of peace have been consistently met with broken promises and acts of violence. Formal negotiations with Chinese ended in 1993. The Chinese aggressive occupation of Tibet has made it an unsafe place for the Dalai Lama to live The Dalai Lama is extremely important in Tibetan society as “their national life is wholly dedicated to Buddhism. ” For centuries he has been the supreme leader both spiritually and as the head of government.
The origin of Tibetan Buddhism dates back to the sixth century BC. Gautama Buddha was a holy man from India who attained enlightenment. He created the religion of Buddhism as a way to teach other people how to become enlightened. Gautama Buddha’s wisdom and religion made it to Tibet and was established firmly there. Between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries monks from other countries came to Tibet to practice Buddhism, movements and schools grew out of this. The Gelug tradition school became the leading and all forms of Tibetan Buddhism came from it and the tradition of reincarnation of the Dalai Lama began.
There have been Dalai Lamas since the 14th Century in Tibet. The name Dalai Lama is a combination of the Mongolian word “Dalai” meaning “Ocean” and the Tibetan word “Blama” meaning “chief” or “high priest”. It is believed by the Tibetan people that he is the reincarnation of a long line of Tulkus or spiritual leaders, who have been chosen to be reborn in order to enlighten others. To the Tibetan people he is a renowned figure of compassion, wisdom and patience . The Dalai Lama has been living in exile since 1959, because the Chinese occupation of Tibet makes it unsafe for him to live there.
On 10th March 1959 a General of China extended an invitation to the Tibetan leader to attend a theatrical show by a Chinese dance group. The invitation was repeated with new conditions that no Tibetan soldiers were to accompany the Dalai Lama and that his bodyguards were to be unarmed, an acute anxiety befell the Lhasa populace and they became very suspicious that the Chinese were planning to kill their leader. This caused a major uprising in Tibet and soon a crowd of tens of thousands of Tibetans gathered around the Norbulingka Palace, where the Dalai Lama was staying, determined to prevent any threat to his life.
This spontaneous demonstration of protection was one of the key factors in the Dalai Lamas decision to leave. The crowds made the Chinese angry and they began to suspect that the Dalai Lama might try to flee the country, so he had to act quickly. On 17 March 1959 during a consultation with Nechung Oracle, the State Oracle of Tibet, He was given clear instruction to leave the country. The Oracle’s decision was further confirmed when a divinity carried out by The Dalai Lama produced the same answer.
A few minutes before ten o’clock the Dalai Lama, now disguised as a common soldier, slipped past the huge crowd of people along with a small escort and met up with the rest of the entourage, including his immediate family members. The group made their way to India. The Indian government responded generously to the Tibetan people’s needs, Tibetan schools and heritage centres were set up to keep the Tibetan culture alive. He planned to stay in India for a short time, but he is still seeking refuge there because of the Chinese invasion of Tibet makes it dangerous for him to return.
He lives among other Tibetan refugees in a town called Dharamsala. He established the Tibetan government in exile and continues to fulfil his roles as the Dalai Lama. The Chinese occupation of Tibet that drove the Dalai Lama from the country in 1959 began with the Chinese invasion in 1949. The affects of the invasion on the Tibetan society have been disastrous. The entry of Chinese Communist forces into Tibet over 40 years ago was the first step in a campaign of outright assault on independent peace-loving people, which continues unabated to this day.
Under the slogan of liberation the Tibetan people and their entire way of life have been attacked, as a result of which over 1. 2 million of them have died. The Chinese believe that the Tibetans are poisoned by their religion, and have destroyed over 6,000 Tibetan monasteries, nunneries and temples and pillaged the contents. The Chinese Flag now flies in front of Potala Palace. A ban on religious ceremonies related to the Dalai Lama has been enforced and the basic freedom of speech, religion and assembly are strictly limited.
Tibetans are forced to be educated in the culture and traditions of the Chinese. Arbitrary arrests continue and there are currently hundreds of political prisoners in Tibet, enduring punishment and torture. Before the occupation of the Chinese, Tibet’s population was six million, originally china moved upwards of 50-80 thousand people into the country and the Chinese government increasingly encourages Han Chinese to migrate to Tibet, offering them higher wages and other inducements, Tibetans are forced to feed and accommodate for the Chinese which puts terrible strains on the Tibetan economy.
This policy is threatening the survival of Tibetan people and their culture Tibetans are becoming a minority in their own country. Women’s roles have been changed under the occupation of the Chinese, Tibetan women no longer enjoy the same status and respect as men and population control has been enforced, families in Tibet can only have two children. Pregnancies are forcibly terminated and the mother sterilised. The Chinese government claims to have “developed” Tibet, with “developments” mainly benefitting the new majority of Chinese people, not Tibetans.
China is neglecting education and healthcare, has spent millions of dollars building infrastructure, many roads, buildings and power plants. China has taken advantage of Tibet and is endangering its environment. Tibet is very rich in Uranium and the Chinese are mining this heavily for their nuclear weaponry and are consequently storing and dumping hazardous nuclear waste all over the country. The land has suffered strip-mining, extensive deforestation as ell as erosion problems and over-farming which has created desert wasteland in some areas. Each year thousands of people still flee from Tibet. Currently there are over 120,000 Tibetans living in exile, most of which, including the Dalai Lama are living in Tibet and another 5,000 living elsewhere in the world as refugees. Over the years Tibetans have tried to negotiate peacefully, but the Chinese response to all negotiations has been to react with violence.
Tibet’s struggle for independence is not just a matter of being occupied by a hostile country, the Chinese are also in the process of wiping out an entire ethnic culture. The Dalai Lama is the most important figure in Tibetan society, he is the supreme ruler, both religiously and politically. Due to the Chinese occupation in Tibet, he has been living in exile in India since 1959 for his own safety, because the hostile and violent actions of the Chinese make it a dangerous place for him. He fulfils his position as leader to the best of his ability from outside of the country.