14th Dalai Lama
Tenzin Gyatso, (Lhamo Thondup) the 14th Dalai Lama was born on July 6,
1935 in province of Amdo, in Tibet.
The 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso's birth name was Lhamo Dhondup, he was
born in a small village called Taktser in the province of Amdo, in the
northeastern part of Tibet. The 14th Dalai Lama was born to a farming
family, he had two sisters and four brothers.
Lhamo Dhondup was
two years old when a search party from the Tibetan Government was sent
to find the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. They had been lead to
his house by numerous signs, the first sign was when they discovered that
the embalmed body of the 13th Dalai Lama's(Thupten Gyatso) head had turned
from facing south to the northeast, this was recognized as the direction
in which they would find the next Dalai Lama. Next the Regent, himself
a senior lama, had a vision whilst looking into the water of a sacred
lake called Lhamo Lhatso, here he saw some Tibetan letters Ah, Ka and
Ma. He then had a vision of a three story monastery that had a gold and
turquoise roof and a path that lead from the monastery up a hill. Next
he saw an image of small house with an odd shaped guttering. He felt that
the letters Ah referred to the province Amdo, so the search party was
sent out to this province.
The members of the
search party arrived in Kumbum, at this time they realized that if Ah
had referred to Amdo then surely kA must indicate the monastery at Kumbum,
which did have three stories and a turquoise roof. Now there was one last
part of the vision to find and that was a nearby house with a strangely
shaped roof. After searching some neighboring villages they came across
a house that fitted the description and were quite sure that the new Dalai
Lama was not far away from being found.
The party didn't reveal
who they were and their real purpose for them being there. They observed
the small child of the house the first night and left in the morning,
only to return a couple of days later as a formal party. They gave the
small child Lhamo Dhondup, some relics and things that belonged to 13th
Dalai Lama as well as some similar items that did not. This was a form
of test and on every occasion the child correctly identified what belonged
to the 13th Dalai Lama by saying "It's mine, It's mine." This
had convinced them that they had found the next incarnation of the Dalai
Lama. They renamed Lhamo Dhondup, Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe
Tenzin Gyatso ("Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender
of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom").
At the age of six Tenzin Gyatso who was now recognized as the 14th Dalai
Lama, began his education. He was taken from his parents to Kumbum monastery
to begin his first teaching's. At age 25 the Dalai Lama completed the
Geshe Lharampa Degree (Doctorate of Buddhists Philosophy) in 1959. He
also took at age 24, took the preliminary examinations at each of the
three monastic universities: Sera, Ganden and Drepung. He sat his final
exam in the Jokhang, Lhasa during the annual Monlam Festival of Prayer,
this festival is held in the first month of every year in the Tibetan
calendar. His Holiness past with honors, he was also was awarded the Lharampa
degree, the highest level geshe degree.
Not only is the Dalai Lama considered the spiritual leader of Tibetan
Buddhism, the Dalai Lama in Tibetan culture also assumes head of State
which gives him full political control of the state and government. On
the 17th of November, 1950, His Holiness at the age of fifteen was enthroned
as the temporal leader of Tibet; due to the People's Republic of China
army invading Tibet in 1949. In 1954, His Holiness sent a delegation to
Beijing, China, to negotiate a peace deal with Mao Tse-tung and other
Chinese leaders. He also sent three other delegations out, one was sent
to America and the others to Great Britain and Nepal to ask for assistance.
With China now controlling the east of Tibet, the Dalai Lama moved to
the south of Tibet with other senior government officials. This would
allow His Holiness to easily escape into India if the situation deteriorated.
With China's ruthless policy in Eastern Tibet, it didn't take for an uprising
to occur amongst the Tibetan people. On 10th of march 1959, the capital
of Tibet, Lhasa, had its largest demonstration ever, the people called
for China to withdraw from Tibet completely and at the same time they
reaffirmed Tibet's independence. The Chinese army didn't take long to
crush the uprising. The Dalai Lama escaped to India where he already had
arranged with the Indian Government to seek political asylum. His Holiness
was followed by about 30,000 Tibetan refugees to the city of Dharamsala,
in northern India. Today there are about 120,000 Tibetan refugees living
in exile Dharamsala, it now is often referred to as "Little Lhasa,"
the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile.
The Dalai Lama fully realized the importance of keeping the Tibetan culture
strong in their new homeland. He created an educational system that would
teach the Tibetan children about their history, language, culture and
religion. In 1959, The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts was formed.
The Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies also became the primary
university for Tibetans in India. He also helped re-establish over 200
hundred monasteries so as to preserve Tibetan Buddhist teachings, which
is the essence of the Tibetan way of life.
In 1959, 1961, and
1965, His Holiness went to the United Nations and appealed to them for
the people of Tibet. The General Assembly agreed to adopt three resolutions,
these resolutions stated that China would respect the human rights of
Tibetans and their desire for self-determination. The Dalai Lama set up
a draft in 1963, the draft included a democratic constitution for Tibet,
as well as reforms to democratize the Tibetan Government in Exile.
In 1987, at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus held in Washington,
D.C, he also proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan regarding a peaceful solution
to the future status of Tibet. The plan was to have Tibet become a sanctuary;
a "zone of peace", it called for China to stop its population
transfer policy that threatens the very existence of the Tibetans. It
also called for restoration of fundamental human rights and democratic
freedoms, a restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment
and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear
weapons and dumping of nuclear waste. The last part of the plan was for
a Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and
relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
On the 15th of June, 1988, His Holiness proposed a similar plan to members
of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. He expanded on the last
point of the Five-Point Peace Plan, he proposed that Tibet would have
a self-governing democratic system, "in association with the People's
Republic of China." He also proposed that the Chinese Government
would continue to remain responsible for Tibet's foreign policy and defense.
In 1991, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile rejected the plan because of
China's current negative attitude towards the ideas expressed in the proposal.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has received many awards throughout his lifetime
due to his push for peace and his concern for environmental problems around
the world. Some of these include, the Key to Los Angeles in September
1979, the Raoul Wallenberg Human Rights Awards from the Congressional
Rights Caucus Human Rights in 1989, Advancing Human Liberty from the Freedom
House in 1991, the Earth Prize from the United Earth and U.N. Environmental
Program in 1991,the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award from the Franklin and
Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in 1994, and an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree
from the University of British Columbia on 2004.
Perhaps Dalai Lama's most notable award was the Nobel Peace Prize, which
he received on the 10th December, 1989. The Dalai Lama was officially
awarded it because the committee wished to recognize his efforts in the
struggle of the liberation of Tibet and the efforts for a peaceful resolution
instead of using violence. In his remarks he said, "The prize reaffirms
our conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons,
Tibet will be liberated. Our struggle must remain nonviolent and free
In his life the Dalai Lama has traveled to more than 62 countries, covering
six continents. He has met with prime ministers, crowned rulers and presidents.
He has also held talks with many well-known scientists and religious leaders.
The 14th Dalai Lama has authored more than 72 books.
His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.
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