The Precious Guru in the Punjab
One of the Tibetans I met at Rawālsar told me he intended to travel
straight to Amritsar, as this was another place connected with Padma-
sambhava. I was astonished to hear such a statement, and resolved to
make enquiries on the spot.
—August Hermann Francke, 1910
During their long acquaintance with India, Tibetans had often discovered that prevailing political, economic, and social conditions in India governed both the vitality of the Buddhist holy land and their access to it as pilgrims. We have seen that both the thirteenth-century demise of Indian Buddhism and the very promising eighteenth-century Tibetan revival of religious contacts with Bengal had been facilitated by way of major transformations in the political landscape of South Asia. In this chapter I will investigate how, on the one hand, a dramatic change in political affairs in Tibet itself during the nineteenth century completely thwarted the potential new wave of Tibetan pilgrimage to colonial Bengal. I will also show, on the other hand, how at the same time an ongoing series of displacements and migrations of local populations on the Tibetan plateau eventually led to the opening of new frontiers for Tibetan reinvention and colonization of the terrain of the Buddha in India. This time, the focus of Tibetan activities was to be India's northwestern region of Punjab, which was the traditional heartland of the Sikh community and its religious life and history. It was in the Punjab that Tibetans for the first time transplanted and established one of the principal aspects of their own indig