The Dalai Lama
His Holiness the 14th Dalai lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet. He has relinquished administrative and political powers to democratically elected Tibetan leader (May 2011). He was born on July 6, 1935, in a small village called Taktser, in north eastern Tibet. Born to a peasant family, His Holiness was recognised at the age of two, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lamas are the manifestations of the Buddha of Compassion who chose to take rebirth for the purpose of serving other human beings. Dalai Lama means Ocean of Wisdom. Tibetans normally refer to His Holiness as Yeshe Norbu, the Wish-fulfilling Gem or simply Kundun, meaning The Presence.
When the 13th Dalai Lama had passed away in 1933, the task which confronted the Tibetan Government was not to simply appoint a successor but to seek for and discover a child in whom the Buddha of Compassion would incarnate. It was not necessary that the child should have been born just at the time of the death of His predecessor, or even soon after.
As on former occasions, there would be indications of the directions in which the search should be made, and that the child would be found to possess physical and mental attributes similar to those of his predecessor.
In 1935, the Regent of Tibet went to the sacred lake of Lhamoe Lhatso about 90 miles southeast of Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. The Tibetans have observed that visions of the future can be seen in this lake. The regent saw the vision of three Tibetan letters : “Ah” “Ka” and “Ma” followed by a picture of a monastery with roofs of jade green and gold and a house with turquoise tiles. A detailed description of these visions were written down and kept a strict secret.
In 1937, high lamas and dignitaries, carrying the secrets of the visions, were sent to all parts of Tibet to search for the place which the regent had seen in the waters. The search party which headed east was under the leadership of Lama Kewtsang Rinpoche of Sera Monastery. When they arrived in Amdo, they found a place matching the description of the secret vision. The party went to the house with Kewtsang Rinpoche disguised as a servant and a junior official Lobsang Tsewang disguised as the leader. The Rinpoche was wearing a rosary which belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama, and the little boy recognizing it, demanded that it should be given to him. Kewtsang Rinpoche asked who the leader was and the boy replied that he was Sera Aga, which meant in the local dialect, “a Lama of Sera”. The Rinpoche asked who the leader was and the boy gave his name correctly. He also knew the name of the real servant. This was followed by a series of tests which included choosing of correct articles which belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama. By these tests, they were further convinced that the reincarnation had been found and their conviction was enhanced by the vision of three letters: “Ah” stood for Amdo, name of the province, “Ka” stood for Kumbum, one of the largest monasteries in the neighbourhood or the two letters
“Ka” and “Ma” stood for the monastery of Karma Rolpai Dorjee on the mountain above the village. It was also significant that once the 13th Dalai Lama had stayed at the monastery on His way back from China. In 1940, the new Dalai Lama was enthroned.
He began His education at the age of six and completed the Geshe Lharampa Degree (Doctrate of Buddhist Philosophy) when He was 25. At 24, His Holiness took the preliminary examinations at each of the three monastic universities: Drepung, Sera and Ganden. The final examination was held in the Jokhang, Lhasa, during the annual Monlam Festival of prayer which is held in the first month of each year. In the morning He was examined on logic by 30 scholars turn by turn in congregational discussion. In the afternoon, 15 scholars took part as his opponents in the debate on the Middle Path, and in the evening 35 scholars tested his knowledge of the canon of monastic discipline and the study of metaphysics. His Holiness passed the examination with honors.
In 1950, when He was only 16, He was called upon to assume full political power when Tibet was threatened by the might of China. In 1954, His Holiness went to Peking to talk peace with Mao Tsetung and other Chinese leaders including Chou En-lai and Deng Xiaoping. In 1956, His Holiness visited India to attend the 2500th Buddha Jayanti Anniversary. While in India, His Holiness had a series of meetings with Prime Minister Nehru and Premier Chou En-lai about deteriorating conditions in Tibet.
In 1959, His Holiness was forced into exile in India after the Chinese military occupation of Tibet. Since that time, His Holiness has been residing in Dharamsala, North India. The seat of the Tibetan Government in exile.
While in exile, His Holiness appealed to the United Nations on the guestion of Tibet, resulting in three resolutions being adopted by the General Assembly in 1959, 1961 and 1965. His Holiness has set up educational, cultural and religious institutions which have contributed significantly towards the preservation of the Tibetan identity and its rich heritage. In 1963, His Holiness promulgated a draft constitution of Tibet which assures a democratic form of government.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been working tirelessly for the Tibetan Nation ever since his been in exile since 1959 and try to find a peaceful solution with China over the status of Tibet.
In a landmark address to the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus, delivered in Washington DC, on September 21st 1987. His Holiness offered Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet, in order to open a dialogue with Beijing.
On June 15th 1988 His Holiness the Dalai Lama elaborated on his earlier Five Point Peace
Plan for Tibet in an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This is to be known as The Strasbourg Proposal. There was no response to the proposals herein from Beijing and commitment to them was withdrawn on September 2nd. 1991.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless work for Tibet. In awarding its 1989 Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Norwegian Nobel Committee cited his consistent opposition to violence and “forward looking proposal for the solution of international conflicts, human rights issue and global environment problems”. His Holiness accepted the Prize in Oslo on 10th December 1989
Unlike his predecessors, His Holiness has traveled to North and South America, Czechoslovakia, Europe, the United Kingdom, Japan, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Russia, Mongolia, Taiwan and met with Political and religious leaders of these countries. In fact there are not many places that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has not been.
During his travels abroad, His Holiness has spoken strongly for better understanding and respect among the different faiths of the world. Towards this end, His Holiness has made numerous appearances in interfaith services, imparting the message of universal responsibility, love, compassion and kindness. “The need for simple human to human relationship is becoming increasingly urgent…. Today the world is smaller and more interdependent. One nation’s problems can no longer be solved by itself completely. Thus, without a sense of universal responsibility, our very survival becomes threatened. Basically, universal responsibility is feeling for other people’s suffering just as we feel our own. It is the realization that even our enemy is entirely motivated by the guest for happiness. We must recognize that all beings want the same thing that we want. This is the way to achieve a true understanding, unfettered by artificial consideration”.
Ever since His Holiness came into exile in 1959, he has never stopped working for the Tibetan people on the advice of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, that the future of Tibet lies with the younger generation, therefore education of these children is most important. So His Holiness established. The Tibetan children’s village schools in the early 1960’s. Today there are Tibetans children’s village schools in all-Tibetan settlements in India. These children receive a modern education and at the same time the Tibetan language and culture is kept alive.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has sought international support for the establishment of a free Tibet. In 1987, he presented to the international community a five point peace plan, which listed the following among its aims: commencing negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, respecting the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms, and the restoration and protection of Tibet’s natural environment. The plan was expanded in 1988 to include the commencement of talks between China and Tibet that would lead to the establishment of a self-governing democratic political entity for all three provinces of Tibet, and that the Chinese Government would continue to remain responsible for Tibet’s foreign policy and defence. In 1997, the Tibetan people rejected a proposal by the Dalai Lama to hold a referendum on the future status of Tibet and encouraged the Dalai Lama to continue to press for the Middle Way Approach.
The Middle Way Approach is a proposal by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to resolve the matter of autonomy for Tibet in a peaceful manner and to bring about stability and coexistence between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, based on equality and mutual cooperation. It seeks to establish a regional political entity, comprising the three traditional Tibetan provinces—Amdo, Kh.am, and U-Tsang—without seeking independence from China. (U-Tsang and the western half of Kham currently form the Tibet Autonomous Region.) Under the terms of the proposal, a democratically elected legislature and executive would govern the region, and an independent judiciary would be established. The proposal also requires that the Chinese Government cease its human rights violations and its policy of encouraging the ongoing migration of Chinese people into Tibetan areas. China would maintain a limited military presence to protect the Tibetan people until Tibet is a peaceful and non-violent region.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama considers the Middle Way Approach to be a means of achieving peace through non-violence, mutual benefit, and the unity of nationalities and social stability between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples. The Central Tibetan Administration has democratically adopted the proposal.
His Holiness’s representatives and Chinese officials have met on numerous occasions since 2000 to discuss the future status of Tibet, with little progress being made until recently. During the seventh round of talks in 2008, Tibetan representatives were asked to develop a substantive proposal outlining a framework for the future of Tibet.
When the 9th round of talk took place, the Tibetan Representatives presented Memorandum of Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan people. The Chinese government rejected this even though every thing the Tibetans asked were guaranteed under the Chinese constitution.
His Holiness speech to the Tibetan people on 10th March 2011 where he said “As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect. During the forthcoming eleventh session of the fourteenth Tibetan Parliament in Exile, which begins on 14th March, I will formally propose that the necessary amendments be made to the Charter for Tibetans in Exile, reflecting my decision to devolve my formal authority to the elected leader.
“Since I made my intention clear I have received repeated and earnest requests both from within Tibet and outside, to continue to provide political leadership. My desire to devolve authority has nothing to do with a wish to shirk responsibility. It is to benefit Tibetans in the long run. It is not because I feel disheartened. Tibetans have placed such faith and trust in me that as one among them I am committed to playing my part in the just cause of Tibet. I trust that gradually people will come to understand my intention, will support my decision and accordingly let it take effect.”
In Dharamsala the 14th Tibetan parliament-in-Exile, after three days of intense deliberation during its additional session, gave its stamp of approval for the devolution of his Holiness the Dalai Lama’s administrative and political powers to democratically elected Tibetan leader (May 2011)
Tibetans in exile voted on March 2011 for a new Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister). Dr Lobsang Sangyay was elected and took office in Dharamsala on 8th August 2011. Dr Sangyay, born in India, is a law graduate of Harvard University.
List of Honours for His Holiness from 1957 – 2012
|1957||Doctor of Letters, Benaras Hindu University||India|
|August 31, 1959||Ramon Magaysay Award for Community Leadership, Ramon Magaysay Committee||Philippines|
|September 16, 1959||The Admiral Richard E. Byrd Memorial, International Rescue Committee||USA|
|January 23, 1963||Lincoln Award, Research Institute of America||USA|
|1969||Lakett Award, Norwegian Refugee Council||Norway|
|June 17, 1979||Special Medal, Asian Buddhist Council for Peace||Mongolia|
|September 17, 1979||Doctor of Divinity, Carol College, Waukesh||USA|
|September 27, 1979||Doctor of Buddhist Philosophy, University of Oriental Studies||USA|
|October 4, 1979||Doctor of Humanities,||USA|
|October 19, 1979||Liberty Torch, Gilbert Di Luchia Friends of Tibet||USA|
|January 16, 1984||Honorary Doctor Degree, University of Paris||France|
|September 28, 1987||Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, Human Behavior Foundation||USA|
|June 16, 1988||Leopold Lucas Award, University of Tuebingen||W. Germany|
|June 21, 1989||Raoul Wallenberg Congressional Human Rights Award, Human Rights Foundation|
|September 23, 1989||Recognition of Perseverance of Times of Adversity,World Management Council||U.S.A.|
|December 4, 1989||Prix de la Memoire, Foundation Danielle Mitterrand, Paris||France|
|December 10, 1989||The Nobel Peace Prize, Norwegian Nobel Committee||Norway|
|January 14, 1990||Doctor of Divinity, Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath||India|
|December 8, 1990||Doctor Honoris Causa, Karnataka University||India|
|March 25, 1991||Shiromani Award 1991, Shiromani Institute, Delhi||India|
|April 6, 1991||Distinguished Peace Leadership Award 91, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation||U.S.A|
|April 17, 1991||Advancing Human Liberty Award, Freedom House, New York||U.S.A.|
|August 23, 1991||Peace and Unity Award, National Peace Conference, Delhi||India|
|October 10, 1991||Wheel of Life Award, Temple of Understanding, New York||U.S.A.|
|October 10, 1991||United Earth Prize, Klaus Nobel United Earth||U.S.A.|
|February 16, 1992||Doctor of Sacred Philosophy, Lafayette University, Aurora||U.S.A.|
|May 5, 1992||Doctor of Laws, University of Melbourne||Australia|
|June 6, 1992||Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Rio de Janeiro||Brazil|
|September 11, 1992||Honorary Professor, Kalmyak State University||Kalmyk|
|September 17, 1992||Honorary Professor, Novosibirsk State University||Buriat|
|November 26, 1992||Doctor Honoris Causa, Jain Vishva Bharati University, Ladnun||India|
|March 14, 1993||International Valiant for Freedom Award, The Freedom Coalition, Melbourne||Australia|
|March 20, 1994||Fellow of University, Hebrew University, Jerusalem||Israel|
|April 25, 1994||Doctor of Humane Letters, Berea College, Berea||U.S.A.|
|April 26, 1994||Doctor of Humane Arts & Letters, Columbia University||U.S.A.|
|April 27, 1994||World Security Annual Peace Award, New York Lawyer’s Alliance||U.S.A.|
|June 4, 1994||Franklin D. Roosevelt, Freedom Medal, Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute||U.S.A.|
|January 2, 1995||Doctor of Letters, Nagpur University||India|
|April 5, 1995||Doctor of Buddhist Philosophy, Rissho University, Tokyo||Japan|
|July 26, 1996||The President’s Medal for Excellence, Indiana University, Bloomington||U.S.A.|
|March 23, 1997||Doctor of Honoris Causa, Chu San University, Kaohsiung||Taiwan|
|May 31, 1997||Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Colorado, Boulder||U.S.A.|
|June 1, 1997||Doctor Honoris Causa, Regis, university, Denver||U.S.A|
|September 11, 1997||Doctor of International Diplomatic Science, University of Trieste||Italy|
|November 25, 1997||Paulos Mar Gregorious Award, Paulos Mar Gregorious Committee||India|
|May 8, 1998||Doctor of Humane Letters, Brandeis University, Boston||U.S.A.|
|May 8, 1998||Juliet Hollister Award, Juliet Hollister Foundation, New York||U.S.A.|
|May 11, 1998||Doctor of Divinity, Emory University, Atlanta||U.S.A.|
|May 15, 1998||Doctor of Laws, University of Wisconsin, Madison||U.S.A.|
|November 11, 1998||Doctor Honoris Causa, Seton Hill College, Greensburg||U.S.A.|
|April 7, 1999||Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Brasilla||Brazil|
|April 9, 1999||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Buenos Aires||Argentina|
|April 16, 1999||Doctor of Theology Florida International University||U.S.A.|
|October 12, 1999||Boddhi Award American Buddhist Congress||U.S.A.|
|November 24, 1999||Life Time Achievement Award Hadassah Women’s Zionist||Israel|
|December 12, 1999||Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta Award for International Peace & Harmony Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta Charitable Trust||India|
|October 16, 2000||Doctor Honoris Causa Comenius University, Bratislava||Slovakia|
|June 10, 2001||Ecce homo Order Kancelaria Kapituly Orderu||Poland|
|November 26, 2001||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Lusiada Porto||Portugal|
|December 5, 2001||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Tromso||Norway|
|May 21, 2002||Peace Award 2000 UN Association of Australia||Australia|
|July 6, 2002||Man of the Year Croatian Academic Society||Croatia|
|October 14, 2002||Human Rights Prize University of Graz||Austria|
|November 7, 2002||Doctor Honoris Causa National University of Mongolia||Mongolia|
|November 7, 2002||Doctor Honoris Causa Mongolian University of Science & Technology||Mongolia|
|December 5, 2002||Basavashree Award Basavakendra, Sri Murugha Math, Chitradurga||India|
|June 3, 2003||Manfred Bjorkquist Medal Sigtuna Foundation, Stockholm||Sweden|
|September 5, 2003||Doctor Honoris Causa University of San Francisco||U.S.A.|
|September 19, 2003||Human Right Award International League for Human Rights, New York||U.S.A.|
|October 9, 2003||Award for Promotion of Human Rights Foundation Jaime Brunet, Madrid||Spain|
|April 16, 2004||2nd Citizens Peace Building Award University of California, Irvine||U.S.A|
|April 19, 2004||Doctor Honoris Causa Univerisity Of British Columbia, Vancouver||Canada|
|April 20, 2004||Doctor Honoris Causa Simon Fraser University, Vancouver||Canada|
|April 27, 2004||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Toronto||Canada|
|April 27, 2004||International Acharya Sushil Kumar Peace Award University of Toronto,||Canada|
|May 28, 2004||Humphreys Memorial Award for Services to Buddhism Buddhist Society of U.K.|
|September 18, 2004||Doctor Honoris Causa Nova Southeastern University, Miami||U.S.A.|
|September 23, 2004||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Miami||U.S.A.|
|September 24, 2004||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Puerto Rico, San Juan Puerto Rico||U.S.A|
|September 27, 2004||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Costa Rica, San Jose||Costa Rica|
|October 5, 2004||The Gold Medal National University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City||Mexico|
|October 7, 2004||Doctor Honoris Causa Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City||Mexico|
|July 27, 2005||Hessian Peace Prize,Parliament of Hesse, Wiesbaden||Germany|
|August 12, 2005||Manhae Peace Prize, Manhae Foundation||South Korea|
|September 25, 2005||Doctor Honoris Causa, Rutgers University, New Jersy||U.S.A|
|November 6, 2005||Inspiration & Compassion Award American Himalayan Foundation,||U.S.A.|
|February 16, 2006||Ben Gurion Negev Award Ben Gurion University, Be’er Sheva||Israel|
|May 4, 2006||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Santiago, Santiago||Chile|
|September 9, 2006||Honorary Citizenship Canada||Canada|
|September 19, 2006||Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Buffalo, New York||U.S.A.|
|October 14, 2006||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Rome 3, Rome||Italy|
|December 10, 2006||Order of the White Lotus Republic of Kalmykia, Russian Federation||Kalmykia|
|May 9, 2007||Doctor Honoris Causa Smith College, Northampton||U.S.A.|
|May 12, 2007||BILD Award, BILD Magazine, Germany||Germany|
|June 8, 2007||Doctor Honoris Causa, Southern Cross University, Melbourne||Australia|
|September 20, 2007||Doctor Honoris Causa,University of Muenster, Muenster||Germany|
|October 8, 2007||Ahimsa Award, Institute of Jainology, London||U.K.|
|October 17, 2007||U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, U.S. Congress, Washington||U.S.A.|
|Oct. 22, 2007||Presidential Distinguished Professor, Emory University, Atlanta||U.S.A.|
|April 14, 2008||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Washington, Seattle||U.S.A.|
|July 13, 2008||Doctor Honoris Causa Lehigh University, Bethlehem||U.S.A.|
|December 8, 2008||Doctor Honoris Causa Jagiellonian University, Krakow||Poland|
|February 9, 2009||Honorary Citizenship City of Rome, Rome||Italy|
|February 10, 2009||Honorary Citizenship City of Venice, Venice||Italy|
|February 10, 2009||German Media Prize Editors of Germany, Baden Baden||Germany|
|June 7, 2009||Honorary Citizenship City of Paris, Paris||France|
|July 29, 2009||Honorary Citizenship City of Warsaw, Warsaw||Poland|
|August 3, 2009||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Marburg, Marburg||Germany|
|September 23, 2009||International Freedom Award National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis||U.S.A.|
|September 27, 2009||Prize for Love and Forgiveness Fetzer Institute, Vancouver||U.S.A.|
|February 19, 2010||Democracy Service Medal National Endowment for Democracy, Washington||U.S.A.|
|February 23, 2010||Baccalaureate Honoris Causa Broward College, Davie||U.S.A.|
|March 18, 2010||Nirmala Deshpande Memorial Award for Peace and Global Harmony Gandhi Ashram Reconstruction Trust||India|
|May 18, 2010||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls||U.S.A.|
|May 23, 2010||President’s Medal Hunter College, New York||U.S.A.|
|September 18, 2010||Honorary Citizenship City of Budapest, Budapest||Hungary|
|September 21, 2010||Menschen in Europa Award Menschen in Europa, Passau||Germany|
|October 20, 2010||International Freedom Award National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati||U.S.A.|
|October 21, 2010||Harry T. Wilkes Leadership Award Harry T. Wilks Foundation, Oxford||U.S.A.|
|October 21, 2010||Doctor Honoris Causa Miami University, Oxford||U.S.A.|
|November 23, 2010||Doctor Honoris Causa Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi||India|
|May 4, 2011||Shine A Light Award Amnesty International USA, Los Angeles||U.S.A.|
|May 8, 2011||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Minnesota, Minneapolis||U.S.A.|
|May 9, 2011||Doctor Honoris Causa Southern Methodist University, Dallas||U.S.A.|
|May 11, 2011||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Arkansas, Fayetteville||U.S.A.|
|July 13, 2011||Lifetime Achievement Award Caring Institute, Washington||U.S.A.|
|August 18, 2011||Doctor Honoris Causa University of Tartu, Tartu||Estonia|
|September 5, 2011||Doctor Honoris Causa Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi||India|
|October 9, 2011||Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace The Gandhi Development Trust, Durban||South Africa|
|December 2, 2011||Dayanand Modi Award for Art, Culture and Education 2011 Dayawati Modi Foundation, New Delhi||India|
|April 26, 2012||Honorary Degree, Loyola University, Chicago||U.S.A.|
|May 14, 2012||Templeton Prize, John Templeton Foundation, West Conshohocken||U.S.A.|
|May 18, 2012||Gold Medal of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt City||Austria|
|May 20, 2012||Carinthia State Gold, Carinthia State||Austria|
|May 22, 2012||Udine City Key, Udine City||Italy|
|May 24, 2012||Honorary Citizenship, Huy||Belgium|
|Oct. 19, 2012||Doctor Honoris Causa Hunter College, New York City||USA|
|Oct. 19, 2012||Doctor Honoris Causa Western Connecticut State University, Danbury||USA|