This article continues my expose on ‘the dark-side’ of pre-invasion Tibet.
My intention is to add some well needed balance, prick the popular consciousness of the masses - who have up to this point - a mental image of a poor, deeply religious, pure, and blissfully happy country high-up in the Himalayas.
A peaceful & harmonious society founded on Buddhism, ruled by the benign, benevolent & loved leader, The Dalai Lama.
A paradise lost, when the Chinese invaded in 1950.
So what do we know about the rule of The Dalai Lama’s before the invasion?
Let’s start from the beginning.
The Dalai Lama is regarded by Tibetans as one of a succession of incarnations of the Buddha of Compassion, Chenrezig ( The Seeing-Eye Lord), the first Dalai Lama Dge-dun-grub-pa (1391-1475) We are up to the 14th incarnation.
When a Dalai Lama dies, a search is conducted to find his reincarnation. This search can take years, as high lamas travel parts of Tibet looking for boys who fit the description of ‘The Living Buddah’.
So now you know a little about what a Dalai Lama ‘is’, let’s talk about their rule, look back on them the same way we would look upon a royal dynasty in say Europe.
Rather ironically as it happens, the first Dalai Lama was installed by Lamist interests who assassinated the last Tibetan King, with the backing of the Kublai Khan (the name ‘Dalai Lama’ actually comes from the Mongolian language)
Between the 17th century and 1959, the Dalai Lama was the head of the Tibetan Government.
As you will see from the biographies below, during the majority of this ‘modern’ period there was no adult Dalai Lam on the throne in Tibet. This power vacuum was filled by powerful abbots who acted as ‘regent advisors’, who trained, educated and on occasion where it was politically expedient, even killed the young Dalai Lama.
Despite their status amongst the people of Tibet as ‘living-Gods’, a total of 6 out of 14 Dalai Lama’s have been assassinated or died under mysterious, unexplained circumstances that were in essence ‘hushed-up’, not to scare the lowly plebeians.
Dalai Lama’s regularly feel victim to powerful clichés within the clerical establishment, external political pressure, and the competing Buddhist sects who were not adverse to engage in armed hostilities to gain power over a rival.
Historical record shows us the 9th,10th, 11th, 12th Dalai Lama’s all died prematurely, before they could assume the authority to govern on their own.
It’s time to learn more about the shadowy sides of the Tibetan monastic state.
9th DALAI LAMA: Was born in around 1805 (no one is sure about this, could be 1806)Infighting within Tibet was rife. Anyway he didn’t make it to his, tenth birthday, but again details on the date of his death are hazy. A teenager he wasn’t. The ‘popular money’ is he was poisoned by a sect of disenchanted Lamists, who wanted a rival to take power.
10TH DALAI LAMA: Located after a ‘lot-drawing ceremony’, in which the candidates names were first whittled-down and then put into a golden urn, spun around until the ‘winning’ name fell-out. He made it to the ripe old age (for a Dalai Lama, that is) 21, and then died under mysterious circumstances in 1837. The 10th had recently increased taxes, so he wasn’t the most popular of rulers, so assassination is the most likely cause of his early demise. There are varying reports he was poisoned, a ceiling of his chamber fell on him, and some who saw his corpse reported a wound to his throat. Put it this way – he didn’t die of old age or what would be called ‘natural causes’.
11th DALAI LAMA: Was ‘found’ at the age of three, like his predecessors his lucky (or should that be unlucky?) ‘ball’ come out in the lot draw. He came from the most humble of backgrounds - his father made a living collecting animal crap. Another who found becoming a Dalai Lama was a life-shortening exercise, and following the family career path may have actually been a preferable choice. Dropped dead suddenly at age 18, of what was framed a ‘mysterious illness’. Given what we know about his two predecessors, odds are he was bumped-off, most likely poisoned.
12th DALAI LAMA: The ecclesiastical ‘Ground-Hog Day’ continues with number twelve. Another who was a winner at the lot(to) draw and found, like his smaller numerated forebears, living in a palace with hundreds of servants came with some a serious downside, and was certainly no precursor to a long-life . Died suddenly at The Potala Palace, of what yet again was termed ‘a mysterious illness’ aged 18. By now you’ll observe a lot of this deadly ‘mysterious illness’ going about in the Lama conclave.
13TH DALAI LAMA: Given the last four Dalai Lama’s were little more than figureheads, and were rubbed-out before ascending to power, Tibet was imploding on itself when the 13th came onboard (1878) The 13th had to flee Tibet twice, first when the British invaded in 1904 and then when the Chinese/Manchu descended on Lhasa five years later. The 13th reincarnate of The Buddha of Compassion, wasn’t adverse himself to employing assassination to rid himself of a rival - the Panchen Lama having to escape Tibet in 1933 because he feared the Dalai Lama was about to have him killed. Although he lived to 57 his life wasn’t any less precarious than those of the 9th, 10th 11th & 12th, Dalai Lama’s. This living-god at least got to justify his mantle, having the good fortune to survive three known attempts on his life, all from Buddhist rivals, including his nephew Norbu Tsering – who was executed along with 20-30 accomplices.
Having read this, and being somewhat more ‘enlightened’ as to the workings of Lamaism, it’s time to ask - what exactly is it - the Free Tibet groups are wanting?
Is there anyone from these pressure groups who can explain what was ‘free’ about the old Tibet?
The undefined term ‘autonomy’ is often bandied around.
Given what history teaches us, ‘autonomy’ in Tibet equates to a country run by dictatorship under a small cliché of Lama’s, and in modern times on the odd occasion where the incarnate got to make it to maturity, by a Dalai Lama.
Wake-up Sharon Stone & Joanna Lumley, the last time Tibet was autonomist women, were never given a say in affairs, rendered poor & powerless.
Serfs, who comprised 80% of the population, were similarly politically impotent, under the brand of autonomy advocated by the actor & activist Richard Gere.
Can we all take a ticket in the lotto draw for the next Dalai Lama, or do we need to be a member of a Free Tibet group and a confirmed Buddhist first?
And let’s all remind ourselves world, who it is that stands to gain the most, by re-establishing an ‘autonomist’ Tibet?
That’s right, the Fuhrer of the Himalayas, who would rather we all conveniently ignored the historical record of Lamist abuse, and simply embrace the myth of a peaceful oasis, with him on the throne.
The next time you meet someone who calls for a Free Tibet ask them to define what the ‘free’ means?
If they fail to include a Tibet free of Lamaism in their summation, by default they are admitting they know nothing of the complexities & history of this country.
By seeking a return to power of The Dalai Lama and his cronies, Free-Tibetans are in fact advocating replacing the despotic Chinese with a power-structure that is as undemocratic, oppressive & pitiless.