April 17, 2024


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How Dalai Lama fled Chinese aggression and designed a perilous journey to India

His Holiness The Fourteenth Dalai Lama: An Illustrated Biography includes text and uncommon images assembled by Tenzin Geyche Tethong, who labored at the Tibetan Buddhist leader’s private business for four many years. Tethong retired as the Dalai Lama’s non-public secretary in 2007. Right here are edited excerpts that depth the religious leader’s flight to India following Chinese aggression in Tibet.

Lhasa, 1959: Chinese aggression and a Tibetan resistance

Correct following the Good Prayer Pageant on 9 March, Brigadier Fu, who was in cost of PLA troops in Lhasa, invited the Dalai Lama for a theatrical general performance at their headquarters. He instructed Phuntsok Tashi Taklha, the Dalai Lama’s brother-in-regulation, who was his main of protection, that His Holiness must occur without the need of protection and in solution. The younger Tendzin Choegyal (Ngari Rinpoche), learning at Drepung monastery, was also invited.

This highly irregular request brought about good worry. The information distribute like wildfire and on 10 March, huge crowds gathered outside the house the Norbulingka palace to reduce the Dalai Lama from going, suspecting it was a ruse by the Chinese to maintain him hostage or worse, harm him. By midday, the huge crowd of thirty thousand grew restive.

The Dalai Lama’s parents in 1940. Courtesy Tendzin Choegyal and Rinchen Khando (Hugh Richardson print)/Roli Books.

The Nechung oracle recommended His Holiness to keep on being in Lhasa and interact with the Chinese. His Holiness put in the afternoon in divination. A couple of tense times later on, a 2nd take a look at to the oracle yielded the very same information – to hold out and negotiate. Time was passing for His Holiness in ‘a dizzying, frightening blur.’

On 16 March, the General informed the Dalai Lama that the Chinese were getting ready to assault the Norbulingka. The thought of violence and the inescapable reduction of daily life significantly upset His Holiness. The up coming working day, he sought out the oracle all over again. This time – the oracle, swaying in a trance – explained considerably ‘go, go, go tonight’ and even gave recommendations on the exact escape route to acquire, and then fell unconscious on the ground. Just at that instant, two shells exploded outdoors the palace developing. On the night time of 17 March, the 20-a few- yr-aged Dalai Lama, disguised as a soldier, left his summer time palace and embarked on a extended, dangerous journey to India into exile, not figuring out when he would see his place or people today once more.

A person of the earliest photos of the Dalai Lama aged 4 at Kumbum monastery, 1939. Courtesy Archibald Steele, in A.T. Steele Papers, Arizona Point out College Libraries, Particular Collections/Roli Publications.

Tibet’s future would adjust for good on the fateful day of 17 March 1959. His Holiness experienced been battling confusion and distress, but the oracle’s term unveiled the way forward. The Dalai Lama also executed his personal divination, which exposed suggestions from Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of knowledge. The oracle’s suggestions was confirmed and His Holiness felt the standoff could be subtle only if he remaining Tibet.

But undoubtedly, the Chinese would be meticulously monitoring the condition? His Holiness educated only his quick workers and delegated the preparations to his Lord Chamberlain, Phala Thupten Woden and the acting Chikyab Khenpo, his main of monastic workers, Gadrang Lobsang Rigzin. 3 different teams set off inside of several hours of each individual other. In the afternoon, His Holiness’ tutors and 4 officials of the Kashag still left concealed under a tarpaulin of a truck some hours later the Excellent Mom, the younger Tendzin Choegyal, his sister Tsering Dolma and an uncle remaining in disguise, with the two ladies dressed as adult males.

By this time the Lord Chamberlain experienced despatched a concept to the Indian Consul Basic in Lhasa on the query of exile and asylum in India. He also sent a concept to the Chushi Gangdruk fighters in the south, asking them to be prepared to defend and escort His Holiness.

For just one last time His Holiness visited his personalized shrine devoted to Mahakala, the protector deity for the Dalai Lamas. Soon after featuring a silk khatag, His Holiness concluded his prayers and still left. Shortly right before 10 at night time, he dressed as a soldier in trousers and a Tibetan chuba (gown) and walked out of Norbulingka. Slung across his still left shoulder was a cylindrical circumstance which housed a quite cherished item – a thangka of the protector-goddess Palden Lhamo that experienced when belonged to the Next Dalai Lama. Slung throughout his other shoulder was a rifle.

This was the third and very last group to depart that working day. With over tens of hundreds of PLA troopers in the place, the chance of staying noticed and detained was a true chance. His Holiness and these accompanying him swiftly crossed the Kyichu River, where the two teams had been waiting around on the other facet. It was only then, His Holiness recalled later on, that he put his eyeglasses again on and was again equipped to see clearly.

The Dalai Lama on his way to Assam, escorted by a unit of the Assam Rifles. Courtesy Tibet Museum/Roli Publications.

The escape occasion rode most of the night time, only halting briefly on their way to the Che-La mountain move, and reached the top rated at daybreak. His Holiness stopped to glance all around. It would be the previous time he would get a glimpse of Lhasa. Soon after a shorter prayer, they moved on to the Yarlung Tsangpo, or the Brahmaputra river, to cross over into southern Tibet. His escape had not yet occur to light-weight, but preventing experienced damaged out as the Tibetan forces were supporting the people today of Lhasa. The Chinese introduced larger assaults and on 20 March, they started out shelling Norbulingka palace. It was only the upcoming day that the Chinese located out that His Holiness experienced escaped.

The Lord Chamberlain’s information experienced been taken to two CIA-educated Tibetan radio operators, Athar and Lhotse, who ended up with the resistance forces holding Lhuntse Dzong, not far from the Indian border. This was where His Holiness was also headed. His intention was to quickly set up foundation there and officially repudiate the 17-Place Settlement, and at the time again established up negotiations with the Chinese from a risk-free put in just access of India. On 25 March, they sent a concept to the Individuals, the Chinese attacks in Lhasa and all hopes of a negotiated settlement had been missing.

A human tragedy of fantastic proportions was unfolding. It later arrived to light-weight that in the just one-calendar year interval pursuing the uprising, the PLA experienced eradicated in excess of 87,000 Tibetans in Central Tibet by itself. At Lhuntse Dzong, His Holiness executed a ceremony of consecration to established up a new Tibetan authorities. The ceremony was attended by over a thousand people today. But it was very clear that there was imminent hazard if the Dalai Lama remained in Tibet. Consequently, messages have been conveyed to the Indians and the Us citizens that His Holiness desired to cross about into India trying to find asylum.

John Greaney, a senior CIA officer, acquired the concept on Saturday night, 28 March. With guidance from his boss, he despatched a covert message to New Delhi informing them of the Dalai Lama’s ask for for asylum. About this time, Gyalo Thondup writes that he visited Prime Minister Nehru at the Parliament House in Delhi through B.N. Mullick, main of India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB). Nehru enquired if His Holiness was protected and when informed of his asylum ask for, he right away explained yes.

The Dalai Lama comes in India in 1959. Courtesy Tibet Museum/Roli Guides.

The subsequent working day His Holiness remaining for the frontier, passing by way of the village of Jhora and as the escape occasion crossed over the Karpo La mountain go, the previous just one on the Tibetan side ahead of the border, an airplane flew in excess of them, resulting in stress. They feared that the Chinese had spotted them. Tendzin Choegyal recounts, ‘… we have been sure the Chinese would be on us in no time.’ The get together decided to split into smaller groups and move ahead for two a lot more times. Messengers despatched by Phala to the Indian border rejoined them right here. They, also, conveyed the information that His Holiness was permitted to cross above into India.

As His Holiness recalled, his very last night time in Tibet was in fairly depressing ailments at a compact village called Mangmang. The escape get together had endured tough climate all through their flight, and this seemed to cap it all. His Holiness fell ill with fever and dysentery. Two days later, on 31 March, he bade farewell to these who would stay in Tibet – some officers, the resistance fighters and the two Tibetan radio operators, Athar and Lhotse, who been given a exclusive blessing.

The get together of close to eighty individuals crossed about from the Land of Snows into the Tawang District, in the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), now the point out of Arunachal Pradesh. Ready on the other aspect was the Indian Assistant Political Officer, T.S. Murthy, with greetings from Primary Minister Nehru. The exhausting, stress filled two-week journey had at last arrive to an conclude.

Courtesy Roli Guides.

Excerpted with permission from His Holiness The Fourteenth Dalai Lama: An Illustrated Biography, Tenzin Geyche Tethong, Roli Books.