|His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is
the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He
was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, at the hamlet of
Taktser in north-eastern Tibet. At the age of two the child named
Lhamo Dhondup was recognized as the incarnation of the 13th Dalai
Lama, Thubten Gyatso.
Dalai Lama is a Mongolian title meaning "Ocean of
Wisdom" and the Dalai Lamas are manifestations of the
Bodhisattva of Compassion, Chenrezig. Bodhisattvas are enlightened
beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take
rebirth to serve humanity.
Education in Tibet
His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. At 23
he sat for his final examination in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa,
during the annual Monlam (prayer) Festival in 1959. He passed with
honours and was awarded the Lharampa degree, the highest level
geshe degree (a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy).
In 1950 His Holiness the Dalai Lama was called upon to assume full
political power after China's invasion of Tibet in 1949. In 1954
he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other
Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping. But finally, in 1959,
with the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in
Lhasa by Chinese troops, the Dalai Lama was forced to escape into
exile. Since then he has been living in Dharamsala, north India,
the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.
Since the Chinese invasion, His Holiness has appealed to the
United Nations on the question of Tibet. Three resolutions were
adopted by the General Assembly, in 1959, 1961 and 1965.
In 1963 His Holiness the Dalai Lama presented a draft democratic
constitution for Tibet, following this with a number of reforms.
However, in May 1990, the radical reforms called for by His
Holiness saw the realization of a truly democratic government for
the exile Tibetan community. The Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag), which
till then had been appointed by him was dissolved along with the
Tenth Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies (Tibetan parliament in
exile). In the same year, exile Tibetans on the Indian
sub-continent and in more than 33 other countries elected 46
members to the expanded Eleventh Tibetan parliament on a 'One man
one vote' basis. The parliament, in its turn, elected new members
of the cabinet.
The new democratic constitution promulgated as a result of this
reform was named "The Charter of Tibetans in Exile". The
charter enshrines freedom of speech, belief, assembly and
movement. It also provides detailed guidelines on the functioning
of the Tibetan government with respect to those living in exile.
In 1992 His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued guidelines for the
constitution of a future, free Tibet. In it, he announced that
when Tibet becomes free the immediate task will be to set up an
interim government whose first responsibility will be to elect a
constitutional assembly to frame and adopt Tibet's democratic
constitution. On that day His Holiness will transfer all his
historical and political authority to the Interim President and
live as a ordinary citizen. His Holiness also stated that Tibet
comprising of the three traditional provinces Ð U-Tsang, Amdo and
Kham Ð will be a federal and democracy.
In 1987 His Holiness proposed the Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet
as the first step towards a peaceful solution to the worsening
situation in Tibet. He envisaged that Tibet will become a
sanctuary Ð a zone of peace at the heart of Asia where all
sentient beings can exist in harmony and the environment can
restore and thrive. China has so far failed to respond positively
to the various peace proposals put forward by His Holiness.
The Five Point Peace Plan
In His address to members of the United States Congress on 21
September 1987, His Holiness proposed the following peace plan,
which contains five basic components:
- Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace
- Abandonment of China's population transfer policy which
threatens the very existence of the Tibetan people
- Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights
and democratic freedoms
- 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
- Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of
Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese people.
Revered By Tibetans
Every Tibetan has a deep and inexpressible connection with His
Holiness the Dalai Lama. To the Tibetans, His Holiness symbolizes
Tibet in its entirety: the beauty of the land, the purity of its
rivers and lakes, the sanctity of its skies, the solidity of its
mountains and the strength of its people.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a man of peace. In 1989 he was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the
liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of
non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also
became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern
for global environmental problems.
His Holiness has traveled to more than 52 countries and met
with presidents, prime ministers and crowned rulers of major
nations. He has held dialogues with the heads of different
religions and many well-known scientists.
From 1959 to 1999 His Holiness has received over 57 honorary
doctorates, awards, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of
peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal
responsibility and compassion. His Holiness has also authored more
than 50 books.
His Holiness describes himself as a "simple Buddhist
monk". In his lectures and tours around the world, his
simplicity and compassionate nature visibly touches everyone who
meets him. His messages are of love, compassion and forgiveness.
(adapted from Wikipedia)