Illustrated character of the Dalai Lama

|| Ca. (Retired) Milind Paranjape

The author retired after more than forty years as Tenzin Gae’s Tethang Dalai Lama’s personal assistant. This is not just a character, it is an album of 400 photographs about the Dalai Lama, his family and Tibet. Several generations of the author were in the service of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan government.

The first Dalai Lama was born in the 14th century. The first part of the book begins with the 13th Dalai Lama and the history of that time. Before the end of the nineteenth century, Russia and Britain began to compete for control of Tibet. Tibetan Buddhist teachings were also prevalent throughout Mongolia. Dorjiev, an adviser to the 13th Dalai Lama, was a Siberian-born monk. He negotiated with both the Tsar of Russia and the British. For this he often went to St. Petersburg (Leningrad after the Bolshevik Revolution). He finally died in a Russian prison after the revolution. In 1904, British troops invaded Lhasa; The 13th Dalai Lama then had to travel for three months to Mongolia for two years. For the next three years he lived in Wutaishan (Manjushri Bodhisattva Bodhisattva) in China. There, US envoy William Rockhill negotiated with the Dalai Lama in Tibetan, opening up the US to Tibet trade. The Dalai Lama attends the funeral of a Chinese king and the coronation of a new king. According to the author, the experience in China was not good. In 1907, Russia and Britain signed a treaty recognizing China’s dominance over Tibet. Upon his return to Lhasa, the 13th Dalai Lama, like socio-political reforms, continued to fight for Tibet’s independence. But in the second year, China intervened by sending troops. Again the Dalai Lama left Tibet and came to India via Sikkim for a while. The author mentions that the Dalai Lama was reading the Tibetan language magazines ‘Tibet Mirror’ and ‘Sheja’ from Kalimpong. Calcutta-born Anglo-Indian ICS officer Charles Bell came to Darjeeling and spoke to him in Tibetan. The author says that after meeting with Governor General Lord Minto, the McMahon Line was drawn by the three countries in 1913, but then China refused to recognize it and it became clear that China’s ambitions were not limited to Tibet.

The coronation of the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of four took place in Lhasa in 1939, according to a photograph in the illustrated London News of the day. The Dalai Lama’s curriculum for childhood included Buddhist philosophy, Sanskrit, logic, Tibetan painting and culture, medical knowledge, dialectics, and debate sessions. During World War II, military supplies were supplied to China from India via Burma. When Burma was annexed by the Japanese in 1942, the search for an alternative began. For that, in the aftermath of World War II, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt Roosevelt sent Tolstoy’s grandson Ilya Tolstoy and explorer Brooke Dolan to Tibet with presents. Here is a photo taken by Ilya Tolstoy at that time. The real purpose of the Americans was to test the land route from India to China via Tibet.

In 1950, the Chinese Communist Army reached as far as Lhasa. In 1954, the Dalai Lama had to go to Beijing to negotiate with Mao. Mao then forced the Tibetan delegation to sign a 17-point unilateral agreement, and Chinese repression began. But the Tibetan people and the Dalai Lama’s family did not sit well. In 1957, the Dalai Lama requested Nehru’s help. (This information is not in the book, but there is a photo of Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, etc. sitting on the floor and having a meal with the lamas, according to the Indian method.)

After the culmination of Chinese atrocities in 1959, the Dalai Lama made a historic decision to leave Tibet and flee to India in the guise of a soldier on the night of March 17. He was accompanied by his mother, a sister, a younger brother and 80 others. After a arduous journey of 15 days on foot or on horseback, we reached the Tawang Math built in 1680 in Arunachal Pradesh. I was shocked when I saw them on a Chinese plane two days ago. Consent for political asylum had already been obtained from Nehru. Even in his tired state, Tawang had a discourse. A statement on why Tezpur had to leave Lhasa (Tibet) in English and Tibetan was read out to the media. China was outraged. While breaking the resistance of the Tibetan people there, the Chinese army killed 87,000 Tibetans, while 80,000 refugees came to India.

The Dalai Lama’s words are quoted at the beginning of the second part of the book: “It is natural for India to help Tibet because India has more authority over Tibet than China. Buddhist teachings and culture came from India. The influence of China was negligible. ” Nehru set up a sanctuary at Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, where the Dalai Lama set to work for the refugees in Tibet and India. The defeat of 1962 was a major blow to the Dalai Lama as well as to India. In a letter to Nehru, he said: “Tibet’s independence and India’s defense of its northern border are intertwined.” China recognized Tibet’s full independence and India’s independence was strengthened.

The above statements come to light after experiencing incidents on the Tibetan border in the last four-five years.

One of the consequences of this defeat was the establishment of an army of Tibetan soldiers called ‘Establishment 22’, which India had set up with Gaylo Thondup (the elder brother of the Dalai Lama). When India voted in favor of Tibet at the United Nations against China’s declaration of Tibet as its Autonomous Region, Shastriji realized that India’s official role had completely changed. The author calls Shastri a ‘true friend’ of Tibet. After the 1965 war, the Dalai Lama received a message that India was ready to recognize the Tibetan government-in-exile in India; Prime Minister Shastri will announce the decision on his return from Tashkent. But with the demise of Shastri in Tashkent, the question of Tibet remained the same. Subsequent Congress governments, however, took the official position that Tibet was a sovereign part of China. The Janata Party government, Jayaprakash Narayan and especially George Fernandes, however, firmly sided with the whole of Tibet. Morarji Desai had said that Indian and Tibetan culture are two branches of the same tree, which the Dalai Lama agreed with. The author complains that Atal Bihari Vajpayee had demanded the independence of Tibet in the Lok Sabha, but when he became the foreign minister or prime minister, he adopted a maverick policy. There was hope for Rajiv Gandhi but he was assassinated.

A similar uprising and massacre took place in Lhasa before the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. More than 150 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2011, one of them in Delhi. He presented the Nobel Peace Prize to the Tibetan people. In 2006, the US Congress awarded him a gold medal despite opposition from China. So all the world’s attention was drawn to Tibet. Dharamshala has now become a world-famous center of freedom. Living with the Dalai Lama is admirable to India. The 15th Dalai Lama may or may not be the 14th Dalai Lama. In any case, he will be selected from outside Tibet.

The book is introduced by Tenzin Choigyal (Angry Rimpoche – younger brother of the Dalai Lama who accompanied him when he left Lhasa in 1959). Jane Moore, a researcher on Tibet for many years, allowed the use of rare photographs from his organization, Tibet Images. The book is full of information about the battle for the existence of Tibet and the Dalai Lama, and the pictures on smooth paper are also captivating. This is a necessary supplement to the autobiography written by the Dalai Lama.


“His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama – An Illustrated Biography” Author: Tenzin Gache Tethang Publisher: Interlink Books Pages: 332, Price:. 27.99.


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