July 6th 1935: Dalai Lama born
On this day in 1935, Lhamo Dondrub was born in Amdo, Tibet to a farming family. At aged two, the young child was recognised as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. Upon becoming the 14th Dalai Lama in 1939, the child was renamed Tenzin Gyatso. In Tibetan Buddhism, Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara - the bodhisattva of compassion and Tibet’s patron saint. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their nirvana to remain on earth and assist humanity. Aged six, Gyatso began monastic education, which instructed him in the finer workings of Buddhist philosophy. In 1950, the fifteen year old Dalai Lama became the political leader of Tibet, and led negotiations with the Chinese after their invasion of his country. Peace talks were unsuccessful, and in 1959 the Chinese government brutally suppressed a Tibetan uprising. This led to fears for the Dalai Lama’s safety, and in March 1959 he and twenty of his entourage fled the capital, Lhasa, and embarked on a fifteen day journey on
foot over the Himalayan mountains to Dharamsala in India
where they had been offered asylum. Despite initial fears he had not survived the journey, the Dalai Lama eventually crossed into India. He was followed by around 80,000 Tibetans who also settled in ‘Little Lhasa’, which has become
the home to the Tibetan government-in-exile. Tibet remains under
Chinese rule, and the Dalai Lama continues to try to find a peaceful
negotiation for Tibetan self rule; he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his efforts.
Happy 80th birthday to the Dalai Lama