D

Dalai Lama (1935–)

Tibetan in exile and Buddhist spiritual leader. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was born on July 6, 1935, in Taktser, Tibet (Xizang), the fourth child of a peasant family. His birth name was Lhamo Dhondrub. In 1937 he was recognized by Buddhist monks as the reincarnation of the Thirteenth Buddhist Lord of Compassion, and on February 22, 1940, he was enthroned as the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, beginning his reign in the Potala, a 1,000-room palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The Dalai Lama’s education began when he was six years old, directed by Buddhist monks. It ended in 1959 when he was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree (doctorate of Buddhist philosophy).

In 1950, Mao Zedong’s (Mao Tse-tung) (1893–1976) Chinese Communist forces invaded Tibet. By late 1950, a guerrilla war had erupted there as Tibetans resisted coercive modernization efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, or the Communist Party of China). On November 17, 1950, the Dalai Lama was called upon to assume the role of Tibetan head of state in order to give voice to Tibetan demands for political and religious autonomy. Until 1959, the Dalai Lama engaged in a careful policy aimed at preserving Tibet’s traditional religious and political structures while attempting to negotiate with CCP leaders. In March 1959, however, the Tibetan capital of Lhasa erupted in violence after a huge anti-Chinese demonstration was savagely crushed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Fearing for the Dalai Lama’s life, his advisors counseled him to flee Tibet, which he reluctantly did. He took up residence in Dharamsala, India, the official seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Since his forced exile, the Dalai Lama has constantly sought to focus the world’s attention on the plight of the Tibetan people, even appealing to the United Nations for support. He has also encouraged Tibetans to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against Chinese Communist rule. He displayed considerable diplomatic and political skill in presenting Tibet’s case on the international stage and won widespread respect. In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent opposition to the Tibetan occupation. He has been widely received in capitals around the world and has met with all of the world’s major religious leaders, including Pope John Paul II five times during 1980–1990.

The numerous publications of the Dalai Lama—both political and spiritual in nature—as well as his constant travel to make personal appeals for support and his nonconfrontational approach began to bear fruit in 2002. That year he again undertook negotiations with the Chinese government for Tibetan autonomy that are still ongoing.

Dr. Andrew J. Waskey

See also: China, People’s Republic of; Chinese Communist Party; Mao Zedong; People’s Liberation Army; Sino-Indian Border War; Tibet.


References

Dalai Lama. Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.

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China at War: An Encyclopedia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Note on Transliteration xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction xix
  • A 1
  • B 17
  • C 27
  • D 99
  • E 109
  • F 119
  • G 131
  • H 155
  • I 181
  • J 183
  • K 201
  • L 219
  • M 255
  • N 295
  • O 333
  • P 341
  • Q 355
  • R 369
  • S 383
  • T 439
  • U 465
  • V 473
  • W 475
  • X 495
  • Y 509
  • Z 525
  • Appendix- Chinese Dynasties and Governments 547
  • Chronology 553
  • Glossary 567
  • Selected Bibliography 571
  • Editor and Contributors 583
  • Index 587
  • About the Editor 605
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