Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is a title given to the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. The whole purpose of having a Dalai Lama is to serve as a symbol for the unification of the State of Tibet while incorporating Buddhist values. The person appointed as the Dalai Lama are reincarnations of lords of compassion (in Buddhism) and ancient kings. According to the Dalai Lama’s website, the ancient lineage of reincarnations can be traced back to 74 cycles. The current (14th) Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.
The Original Panchen Lama
The Panchen Lama
The Dalai Lama is appointed and at the end of his term, he selects a Panchen Lama, and this is followed by the Panchen Lama appointing the next Dalai lama and so on. In the 90’s, the current Dalai Lama appointed the next Panchen Lama (a 6-year old boy), but the Chinese Government wanted to appoint their own Panchen Lama through a lottery system to keep control over the State. And voila, within 3 days the Chinese authorities kidnapped the original Panchen Lama and his family and placed their own Panchen Lama. The disappearance of the original Panchen Lama (appointed by the Dalai Lama) seems too coincidental considering China’s track record of lack of human rights. The Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama was and is still not recognized as the leader by the people of Tibet.
Self-immolation means setting oneself on fire. Since 2009 – 2015, there have been 138 ‘reported’ self-immolations by monks and nuns in Chinese occupied Tibet. 138 humans in 6 years are no small number and China suppresses as much information as possible with their regressive and controlled media laws. Imagine a monk who lives by virtues of peace, karma, consciousness, etc. be so aggravated at the situation in Tibet (because of China) that the only solution he sees is to set himself on fire as a form of protest. The Dalai Lama had to take a neutral position on this subject because if he speaks out against it, it will obviously hurt the family members of the deceased, on the other hand, if he speaks for it, he will be attacked by China (and the Tibetans will bear the brunt of it).
Tibet and China
Tibet is a huge area, extending from the Himalayas to a quarter of China’s area (approx 2.4 million sq. km). Tibet has constantly been at the crux of disputes with China trying to annex the entire region under the People’s Republic of China (China or in the name of some dynasty) throughout ancient and modern history. In 1951, the 14th Dalai Lama and the Government of Tibet were pressurized into accepting the Seventeen Point Agreement for the peaceful liberation of Tibet, which was a fancy name for the illegal annexation of Tibet because the agreement was signed under duress, making it legally invalid. The Dalai Lama was appointed as the head of State until revolts and assassination attempts by the Chinese Government in 1959 caused him to flee to India where he has been leading a Government in exile ever since.
Golden Statue Temple (Tibetan monastery), Bylakuppe
One of the main reasons why China really dislikes India and also prompted the Sino-Indian War in 1962 was because India gave the Dalai Lama refuge and asylum in India. Sharing a common enemy in India, China sided with Pakistan and that relationship is seen clear as day even today in economic and foreign policies. Just to point out, India has been always open to accepting Tibetan refugees and providing land, buildings, agriculture, reservations for bright students, etc. In Karnataka, about 80 Kms from Mysore lies the twin towns of Kushalnagar and Bylakuppe. The town Bylakuppe is at present home to around 70,000 Tibetan refugees. There are several other places that have Tibetan settlements housing over 150,000 refugees in India.
Free Tibet, sadly the only thing known about Tibet
Free Tibet is an NGO and non-profit started in 1987 in the UK and is also the name of a song by Hilight Tribe. The former is a group that advocates for human rights and an end to China’s occupation of Tibet through social campaigns, lobbying, and international political pressure. The 2008 Olympics in China was marred by human rights violations, restriction on free speech and oppression. The Tibetan people, several nations, and Free Tibet protested and brought these violations to light. In response, the Chinese Government came down hard on protesters by passing out harsh sentences after the limelight of the Beijing Olympics subsided.
When John Oliver met the Dalai Lama
The Chinese Government has called the Dalai Lama “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The Dalai Lama is an important figure, but Tenzin, the current Dalai Lama, is an amazing human being and the embodiment of humility first. His views clearly indicate that because he has always been open to a voting system in Tibet because the people come first. According to Tenzin, the next Dalai Lama might come from either India, Nepal or Bhutan and the best part of all, she might be a woman. Trust this guy to be the most open minded guy on earth. His interview with John Oliver is the cutest and funniest thing you’ll see.