• Friday, Jan 27, 2023
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

Exiled Dalai Lama marks 80 years as Tibet's spiritual leader

  • Published at 04:14 pm February 22nd, 2020
Dalai Lama AFP

Beijing accuses the 84-year-old Dalai Lama of wanting to split China, and regularly refers to him as a 'wolf in a monk's robe.'

The Dalai Lama on Saturday marked the 80th anniversary of his enthronement as the spiritual leader of Tibet, a position held almost entirely in exile and as a target of constant vilification by the Chinese state.

Hundreds of miles from Lhasa's imposing 1,000-room Potala Palace, the sandal-wearing monk now ministers to his fellow Tibetan exiles from Dharamsala in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya.

He remains the universally recognised face of the movement for Tibetan autonomy, but the global spotlight he enjoyed after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 has dimmed and the deluge of invitations to hobnob with world leaders and Hollywood stars has slowed.

Partly because the ageing leader has cut back on his punishing travel schedule, but also due to China's growing economic and political clout.

Beijing accuses the 84-year-old Dalai Lama of wanting to split China, and regularly refers to him as a "wolf in a monk's robe."

His office said there would be no commemoration of the anniversary and a teaching event scheduled for March -- that usually would attract devotees from across the world -- has been cancelled over coronavirus fears.

Born into a peasant family in the Tibetan village of Taksar on July 6, 1935, he was identified as the incarnation of Tibetan Buddhism's supreme religious leader at the age of two after picking out objects that belonged to his predecessor.

He was given the name Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso -- Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate Defender of the Faith and Ocean of Wisdom -- and two years later arrived in Lhasa where he was formally enthroned as the 14th Dalai Lama.

In 1950, aged 15, he was hastily enthroned as head of state after the Chinese army invaded Tibet.

For the next nine years he tried to keep Tibetans out of harm's way. But the effort failed in 1959 when China crushed a popular uprising.

Fearing for his life, the young monk trekked through the Himalayas accompanied by a 37-strong entourage, and crossed into exile in India.

There he set up a government-in-exile and launched a campaign to reclaim Tibet that gradually evolved into an appeal for greater autonomy -- the so-called "middle way" approach.


It is unclear how, or even whether, the current Dalai Lama's successor will be named, but few religious leaders have had to give the matter as much thought.

The centuries-old practice requires senior monks to interview sometimes hundreds of young boys to see whether they recognise items that belonged to the Dalai Lama and pick one as a reincarnation.

But the 14th Dalai Lama announced in 2011 that he may be the last, seeking to preempt any attempt by China to name its own successor.

Formal negotiations with Beijing broke down in 2010 after making no headway.

The following year the Dalai Lama announced he was retiring from politics, ending centuries of Tibetan tradition to make way for a new leader elected by exiled Tibetans around the world.

In his India exile he has been treated as an honoured guest -- an official policy stance that has been a source of tension with Beijing.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail