The Dalai Lamas are believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are realized beings, inspired by the wish to attain complete enlightenment, who have vowed to be reborn in the world to help all living beings.
Firstly, as a human being, His Holiness is concerned with encouraging people to be happy—helping them understand that if their minds are upset mere physical comfort will not bring them peace, but if their minds are at peace even physical pain will not disturb their calm. He advocates the cultivation of warm-heartedness and human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. He says that as human beings we are all the same. We all want happiness and do not want suffering. Even people who have no religious belief can benefit if they incorporate these human values into their lives. His Holiness refers to such human values as secular ethics or universal values. He is committed to talking about the importance of such values and sharing them with everyone he meets.
Secondly, as a Buddhist monk, His Holiness is committed to encouraging harmony among the world’s religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences between them, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognize the value of their respective traditions. The idea that there is one truth and one religion is relevant to the individual practitioner. However, with regard to the wider community, he says, there is a need to recognise that human beings observe several religions and several aspects of the truth.
Thirdly, His Holiness is a Tibetan and as the ‘Dalai Lama’ is the focus of the Tibetan people’s hope and trust. Therefore, he is committed to preserving Tibetan language and culture, the heritage Tibetans received from the masters of India’s Nalanda University, while also speaking up for the protection of Tibet’s natural environment.
In addition, His Holiness has lately spoken of his commitment to reviving awareness of the value of ancient Indian knowledge among young Indians today. His Holiness is convinced that the rich ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, as well as the techniques of mental training, such as meditation, developed by Indian traditions, are of great relevance today. Since India has a long history of logic and reasoning, he is confident that its ancient knowledge, viewed from a secular, academic perspective, can be combined with modern education. He considers that India is, in fact, specially placed to achieve this combination of ancient and modern modes of knowing in a fruitful way so that a more integrated and ethically grounded way of being in the world can be promoted within contemporary society.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. He is the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the age of two, the child, then named Lhamo Dhondup, was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.
The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are realized beings inspired by a wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings, who have vowed to be reborn in the world to help humanity.
Education in Tibet
His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. The curriculum, derived from the Nalanda tradition, consisted of five major and five minor subjects. The major subjects included logic, fine arts, Sanskrit grammar, and medicine, but the greatest emphasis was given to Buddhist philosophy which was further divided into a further five categories: Prajnaparamita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology. The five minor subjects included poetry, drama, astrology, composition and synonyms.
At 23, His Holiness sat for his final examination in Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple, during the annual Great Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo) in 1959. He passed with honors and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, equivalent to the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.
In 1950, after China’s invasion of Tibet, His Holiness was called upon to assume full political power. In 1954, he went to Beijing and met with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and Chou Enlai. Finally, in 1959, following the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, His Holiness was forced to escape into exile. Since then he has been living in Dharamsala, northern India.
In exile, the Central Tibetan Administration led by His Holiness appealed to the United Nations to consider the question of Tibet. The General Assembly adopted three resolutions on Tibet in 1959, 1961 and 1965.
In 1963, His Holiness presented a draft democratic constitution for Tibet , followed by a number of reforms to democratize the Tibetan administration. The new democratic constitution 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 Administration with respect to Tibetans living in exile.
In 1992, the Central Tibetan Administration published guidelines for the constitution of a future, free Tibet. It proposed that when Tibet becomes free the first task will be to set up an interim government whose immediate responsibility will be to elect a constitutional assembly to frame and adopt a democratic constitution for Tibet. His Holiness has made clear his hopes that a future Tibet, comprising the three traditional provinces of U-Tsang, Amdo and Kham, will be federal and democratic.
In May 1990, as a result of His Holiness’s reforms the Tibetan administration in exile was fully democratized. The Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag), which until then had been appointed by His Holiness, was dissolved along with the Tenth Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies (the Tibetan parliament in exile). In the same year, exiled Tibetans living in India and more than 33 other countries elected 46 members to an expanded Eleventh Tibetan Assembly on a one-person one-vote basis. That Assembly then elected the members of a new cabinet.
In September 2001, in a further step towards democratization the Tibetan electorate directly elected the Kalon Tripa, the Chairman of the Cabinet. The Kalon Tripa appointed his own cabinet who then had to be approved by the Tibetan Assembly. This was the first time in Tibet’s long history, that the people had elected their political leaders. Since the direct election of the Kalon Tripa, the custom by which the Dalai Lamas, through the institution of the Ganden Phodrang, have held temporal as well as spiritual authority in Tibet, has come to an end. Since 2011, when he devolved his political authority to the elected leadership, His Holiness has described himself as retired.
On 21 September 1987 in an address to members of the United States Congress in Washington, DC, His Holiness proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet as a first step towards a peaceful solution of the worsening situation in Tibet. The five points of the plan were as follows:
- Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace.
- Abandonment of China’s population transfer policy that threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a 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 peoples.
On 15 June 1988, in an address to members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, His Holiness further elaborated on the last point of the Five-Point Peace Plan. He proposed talks between the Chinese and Tibetans leading to a self-governing democratic political entity for all three provinces of Tibet. This entity would be in association with the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Government would continue to be responsible for Tibet’s foreign policy and defence.
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 travelled to more than 67 countries spanning 6 continents. He has received over 150 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. He has also authored or co-authored more than 110 books.
His Holiness has held discussions with heads of different religions and participated in many events promoting inter-religious harmony and understanding.
Since the mid-1980s, His Holiness has engaged in a dialogue with modern scientists, mainly in the fields of psychology, neurobiology, quantum physics and cosmology. This has led to a historic collaboration between Buddhist monks and world-renowned scientists in trying to help individuals achieve peace of mind. It has also resulted in the addition of modern science to the traditional curriculum of Tibetan monastic institutions re-established in exile..
On 14 March 2011 His Holiness wrote to the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament-in-exile) requesting it to relieve him of his temporal authority, since according to the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, he was technically still the head of state. He announced that he was ending the custom by which the Dalai Lamas had wielded spiritual and political authority in Tibet. He intended, he made clear, to resume the status of the first four Dalai Lamas in concerning himself only with spiritual affairs. He confirmed that the democratically elected leadership would assume complete formal responsibility for Tibetan political affairs. The formal office and household of the Dalai Lamas, the Gaden Phodrang, would henceforth only fulfil that function.
On 29 May 2011 His Holiness signed the document formally transferring his temporal authority to the democratically elected leader. In so doing he formally put an end to the 368-year old tradition of the Dalai Lamas functioning as both the spiritual and temporal head of Tibet.
As far back as 1969, His Holiness made clear that whether or not a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should be recognised was a decision for the Tibetan people, the Mongolians and people of the Himalayan regions to make. However, in the absence of clear guidelines, there was a clear risk that, should the concerned public express a strong wish to recognise a future Dalai Lama, vested interests could exploit the situation for political ends. Therefore, on 24 September 2011, clear guidelines for the recognition of the next Dalai Lama were published, leaving no room for doubt or deception.
His Holiness has declared that when he is about ninety years old he will consult leading Lamas of Tibet’s Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people with an interest in Tibetan Buddhism, and assess whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue after him. His statement also explored the different ways in which the recognition of a successor could be done. If it is decided that a Fifteenth Dalai Lama should be recognized, responsibility for doing so will rest primarily on the concerned officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust. They should consult the various heads of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and the reliable oath-bound Dharma Protectors who are linked inseparably to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. They should seek advice and direction from these concerned parties and carry out the procedures of search and recognition in accordance with their instruction. His Holiness has stated that he will leave clear written instructions about this. He further warned that apart from a reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including agents of the People’s Republic of China.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was born on 6 July 1935 to a Tibetan farming family in the small village of Taktser, located in the province of Amdo. He was named Lhamo Thondup, which literally means ‘Wish-Fulfilling Goddess’. Taktser (Roaring Tiger) was a small village that stood on a hill overlooking a broad valley. Its pastures had not been settled or farmed for long, only grazed by nomads. The reason for this was the unpredictability of the weather in that area. His Holiness writes in his autobiography, “During my early childhood, my family was one of twenty or so making a precarious living from the land there”.
His Holiness’s parents were small farmers who mostly grew barley, buckwheat and potatoes. His father was a man of medium height with a very quick temper. “I remember pulling at his moustache once and being hit hard for my trouble”, recalls His Holiness. “Yet he was a kind man too and he never bore grudges”. His Holiness recalls his mother as undoubtedly one of the kindest people he has ever known. She gave birth to sixteen children, of whom seven survived.
His Holiness had two sisters and four brothers. Tsering Dolma, the eldest child, was eighteen years older than His Holiness. At the time of His Holiness’s birth she helped his mother run the house and acted as the midwife. “When she delivered me, she noticed that one of my eyes was not properly open. Without hesitation she put her thumb on the reluctant lid and forced it wide fortunately without any ill effect”, narrates His Holiness. He had three elder brothers: Thubten Jigme Norbu – the eldest, who was recognized as the reincarnation of a high lama, Taktser Rinpoche – Gyalo Thondup and Lobsang Samden. The youngest brother, Tenzin Choegyal was also recognized as the reincarnation of another high lama, Ngari Rinpoche.
“Of course, no one had any idea that I might be anything other than an ordinary baby. It was almost unthinkable that more than one tulku (reincarnate lama) could be born into the same family and certainly my parents had no idea that I would be proclaimed Dalai Lama”, His Holiness writes. Although His Holiness’s father’s remarkable recovery from critical illness at the time of His Holiness’s birth was auspicious, it was not taken to be of great significance. “I myself likewise had no particular intimation of what lay ahead. My earliest memories were very ordinary.” His Holiness recollects, among his earliest memories, observing a group of children fighting and running to join the weaker side.
“One thing that I remember enjoying particularly as a very young boy was going into the chicken coop to collect the eggs with my mother and then staying behind. I liked to sit in the hens’ nest and make clucking noises. Another favourite occupation of mine as an infant was to pack things in a bag as if I was about to go on a long journey. I’m going to Lhasa, I’m going to Lhasa, I would say. This, coupled with my insistence that I be allowed always to sit at the head of the table, was later said to be an indication that I must have known that I was destined for greater things”.
His Holiness is considered to be the present incarnation of the previous thirteen Dalai Lamas of Tibet (the first having been born in 1391 CE), who are in turn considered to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, holder of the White Lotus. Thus, His Holiness is also believed to be a manifestation of Chenrezig, in fact the seventy-fourth in a lineage that is traced back to a Brahmin boy who lived in the time of Buddha Shakyamuni. “I am often asked whether I truly believe this. The answer is not simple to give. But as a fifty-six year old, when I consider my experience during this present life, and given my Buddhist beliefs, I have no difficulty accepting that I am spiritually connected both to the thirteen previous Dalai Lamas, to Chenrezig and to the Buddha himself”.
Discovery as Dalai Lama
When Lhamo Thondup was two years old, a search party that had been sent out by the Tibetan government to find the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama arrived at Kumbum monastery. It had been led there by a number of signs. One of these concerned the embalmed body of his predecessor, Thupten Gyatso, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who had died aged fifty-seven in 1933. During the mummification process, the head was discovered to have turned from facing south to the northeast. Shortly after that the Regent, himself a senior lama, had a vision. Looking into the waters of the sacred lake, Lhamoi Lhatso, in southern Tibet, he clearly saw the Tibetan letters Ah, Ka and Ma float into view. These were followed by the image of a three-storied monastery with a turquoise and gold roof and a path running from it to a hill. Finally, he saw a small house with strangely shaped guttering. He was sure that the letter Ah referred to Amdo, the northeastern province, so it was there that the search party was sent.
By the time they reached Kumbum, the members of the search party felt that they were on the right track. It seemed likely that if the letter Ah referred to Amdo, then Ka must indicate the monastery at Kumbum, which was indeed three-storied and turquoise-roofed. They now only needed to locate a hill and a house with peculiar guttering. So they began to search the neighbouring villages. When they saw the gnarled branches of juniper wood on the roof of the His Holiness’s parent’s house, they were certain that the new Dalai Lama would not be far away. Nevertheless, rather than reveal the purpose of their visit, the group asked only to stay the night. The leader of the party, Kewtsang Rinpoche, then disguised himself as a servant and spent much of the evening observing and playing with the youngest child in the house.
The child recognized him and called out “Sera lama, Sera lama”. Sera was Kewtsang Rinpoche’s monastery. The next day they left, only to return a few days later as a formal deputation. This time they brought with them a number of possessions that had belonged to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, together with several similar items that did not belong to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. In every case, the infant correctly identified those belonging to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama saying, “It’s mine. It’s mine”. This more or less convinced the search party that they had found the new incarnation. It was not long before the boy from Taktser was recognized to be the new Dalai Lama.
The boy, Lhamo Thondup, was first taken to Kumbum monastery. “There now began a somewhat unhappy period of my life”, His Holiness was to write later, reflecting on his separation from his parents and the unfamiliar surroundings. However, there were two consolations to life at the monastery. First, His Holiness’s immediate elder brother Lobsang Samden was already there. The second consolation was the fact that his teacher was a very kind old monk, who often seated his young disciple inside his gown.
Lhamo Thondup was eventually to be reunited with his parents and together they were to journey to Lhasa. This did not come about for some eighteen months, however, because Ma Bufeng, the local Chinese Muslim warlord, refused to let the boy-incarnate be taken to Lhasa without payment of a large ransom. It was not until the summer of 1939 that he left for the capital, Lhasa, in a large party consisting of his parents, his brother Lobsang Samden, members of the search party, and other pilgrims.
The journey to Lhasa took three months. “I remember very little detail apart from a great sense of wonder at everything I saw: the vast herds of drong (wild yaks) grazing across the plains, the smaller groups of kyang (wild asses) and occasionally a herd of gowa and nawa, small deer which were so light and fast they might have been ghosts. I also loved the huge flocks of hooting geese we saw from time to time”.
Lhamo Thondup’s party was received by a group of senior government officials and escorted to Doeguthang plain, two miles outside the gates of the capital. The next day, a ceremony was held in which Lhamo Thondup was conferred the spiritual leadership of his people. Following this, he was taken with Lobsang Samden to the Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas, which lay just to the west of Lhasa.
During the winter of 1940, Lhamo Thondup was taken to the Potala Palace, where he was officially installed as the spiritual leader of Tibet. Soon after, the newly recognized Dalai Lama was taken to the Jokhang temple where he was inducted as a novice monk in a ceremony known as taphue, meaning cutting of the hair. “From now on, I was to be shaven-headed and attired in maroon monk’s robes”. In accordance with ancient custom, His Holiness forfeited his name Lhamo Thondup and assumed a new name, Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso.
His Holiness then began to receive his primary education. The curriculum, derived from the Nalanda tradition, consisted of five major and five minor subjects. The major subjects included logic, fine arts, Sanskrit grammar, and medicine, but the greatest emphasis was given to Buddhist philosophy which was further divided into a further five categories: Prajnaparamita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology. The five minor subjects included poetry, drama, astrology, composition and synonyms.
Dalai Lama in His Youth
On the day before the opera festival in the summer of 1950, His Holiness was just coming out of the bathroom at the Norbulingka when he felt the earth beneath his feet begin to move. As the scale of this natural phenomenon began to sink in, people naturally began to say that it was more than a simple earthquake: it was an omen.
Two days later, Regent Tatra received a telegram from the Governor of Kham, based in Chamdo, reporting a raid on a Tibetan post by Chinese soldiers. Already the previous autumn there had been cross-border incursions by Chinese Communists, who stated their intention of liberating Tibet from the hands of imperialist aggressors. “It now looked as if the Chinese were making good their threat. If that were so, I was well aware that Tibet was in grave danger for our army comprised no more than 8,500 officers and men. It would be no match for the recently victorious People’s Liberation Army (PLA)”.
Two months later, in October, news reached Lhasa that an army of 80,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army had crossed the Drichu river east of Chamdo. Soon, Lhasa would fall to the invaders. As the winter drew on and the news got worse, people began to advise that His Holiness be given full temporal (political) authority. The Government consulted the Nechung Oracle, who, at a tense point in the ceremony approached where His Holiness was seated and laid a kata, a white offering scarf, on his lap with the words thu-la bap, the time has come. Thus, on 17 November 1950 at the age of fifteen, His Holiness was officially enthroned as the temporal leader of Tibet in a ceremony held at the Norbulingka Palace.
At the beginning of November, about a fortnight before the day of His Holiness’s investiture, his eldest brother had arrived in Lhasa. “As soon as I set eyes on him, I knew that he had suffered greatly. Because Amdo, the province where we were both born, and in which Kumbum is situated, lies so close to China, it had quickly fallen under control of the Communists. He himself was kept virtual prisoner in his monastery. At the same time, the Chinese endeavoured to indoctrinate him in the new Communist way of thinking and tried to recruit him to their cause. According to their plan they would set him free to go to Lhasa if he would undertake to persuade me to accept Chinese rule. If I resisted, he was to kill me. They would then reward him”.
To mark the occasion of his ascension to power, His Holiness granted a general amnesty whereby all the prisoners were set free.
Shortly after the 15-year-old Dalai Lama found himself the undisputed leader of six million people facing the threat of a full-scale war, His Holiness appointed two new Prime Ministers. Lobsang Tashi became the monk Prime Minister and an experienced lay administrator, Lukhangwa, the lay Prime Minister.
Then, in consultation with the two Prime Ministers and the Kashag, His Holiness decided to send delegations abroad to America, Great Britain and Nepal in hope of persuading these countries to intervene on Tibet’s behalf. Another was to go to China in the hope of negotiating a withdrawal. These missions left towards the end of the year. “Shortly afterwards, with the Chinese consolidating their forces in the east, we decided that I should move to southern Tibet with the most senior members of the Government. That way, if the situation deteriorated, I could easily seek exile across the border with India. Meanwhile, Lobsang Tashi and Lukhangwa were to remain in an acting capacity”.
While His Holiness was in Dromo, which lay just inside the border with Sikkim, he received the news that while the delegation to China had reached its destination, each of the others had been turned back. It was almost impossible to believe that the British Government was now agreeing that China had some claim to authority over Tibet. His Holiness was equally saddened by America’s reluctance to help. “I remember feeling great sorrow when I realized what this really meant: Tibet must expect to face the entire might of Communist China alone”.
Frustrated by the indifference shown to Tibet’s case by Great Britain and America, in a last bid to avoid a full-scale Chinese invasion, His Holiness sent Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, Governor of Kham, to Beijing to open a dialogue with the Chinese. The delegation had not been empowered to reach a settlement, apart from its entrusted task of convincing the Chinese leadership not to invade Tibet. However, one evening, as His Holiness sat alone, a harsh, crackling voice on the radio announced that a Seventeen-Point ‘Agreement’ for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet had that day (23 May 1951) been signed by representatives of the Government of the People’s Republic of China and what they called the Local Government of Tibet. As it turned out, the Chinese who even forged the Tibetan seal had forced the delegation headed by Ngabo into signing the agreement. The Chinese had in effect secured a major coup by winning Tibetan compliance, albeit at gunpoint, to their terms of returning Tibet to the fold of the motherland. His Holiness returned to Lhasa in the middle of August 1951.
Countdown to Escape
The next nine years saw His Holiness trying to evade a full-scale military takeover of Tibet by China on the one hand and placating the growing resentment among Tibetan resistance fighters against the Chinese aggressors on the other. His Holiness made a historic visit to China from July 1954 to June 1955 and met with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Chou Enlai, Zhu Teh and Deng Xiaoping. From November 1956 to March 1957 His Holiness visited India to participate in the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations. When the young Dalai Lama was taking his final monastic examinations in Lhasa in the winter of 1958/59 disheartening reports of increasing brutality against his people continued to pour in.
Escape into Exile
On 10th March 1959, General Zhang Chenwu of Communist China extended a seemingly innocent invitation to the Tibetan leader to attend a theatrical show by a Chinese dance troupe. When the invitation was repeated with new conditions that no Tibetan soldiers were to accompany the Dalai Lama and that his bodyguards be unarmed, an acute anxiety befell the Lhasa population. Soon a crowd of tens of thousands of Tibetans gathered around the Norbulingka Palace, determined to thwart any threat to their young leader’s life and prevented His Holiness from going.
On 17 March 1959 during a consultation with the Nechung Oracle, His Holiness was given an explicit instruction to leave the country. The Oracle’s decision was confirmed when a divination performed by His Holiness produced the same answer, even though the odds against making a successful escape seemed terrifyingly high.
A few minutes before ten o’clock in the evening His Holiness, disguised as a common soldier, slipped past the massive throng of people along with a small escort and proceeded towards the Kyichu river, where he was joined by the rest of his entourage, including some members of his immediate family.
Three weeks after escaping Lhasa, on 31 March 1959, His Holiness and his entourage reached the Indian border from where they were escorted by Indian guards to the town of Bomdila in the present day Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian government had already agreed to provide asylum to His Holiness and his followers in India. Soon after his arrival in Mussoorie on 20 April 1959, His Holiness met with the Indian Prime Minister and the two talked about rehabilitating the Tibetan refugees.
Realizing the importance of modern education for the children of Tibetan refugees, His Holiness impressed upon Nehru the need to create a Special Section for Tibetan Education within the Indian Ministry of Education. The Indian Government agreed to bear all the expenses for setting up the schools for the Tibetan children.
Thinking the time was ripe for him to break his elected silence, His Holiness called a press conference on 20 June 1959 during which he formally repudiated the Seventeen-Point Agreement. In the field of administration, too, His Holiness was able to make radical changes. He oversaw the creation of various new Tibetan administrative departments. These included the Departments of Information, Education, Home, Security, Religious Affairs and Economic Affairs. Most of the Tibetan refugees, whose number had grown to almost 30,000, were moved to road-building camps in the hills of northern India.
On 10 March 1960 just before leaving for Dharamsala with the eighty or so officials who comprised the Central Tibetan Administration, His Holiness made a statement on the first anniversary of the Tibetan People’s Uprising. “On this first occasion, I stressed the need for my people to take a long-term view of the situation in Tibet. For those of us in exile, I said that our priority must be resettlement and the continuity of our cultural traditions. As to the future, I stated my belief that, with truth, justice and courage as our weapons, we Tibetans would eventually prevail in regaining freedom for Tibet”.
When asked by people how His Holiness the Dalai Lama sees himself, he replies that he is a simple Buddhist monk.
His Holiness is often out of Dharamsala on travels both within India and abroad. During these travels, His Holiness’s daily routine varies depending on his engagement schedule. However, His Holiness is an early riser and tries as far as possible to retire early in the evening.
When His Holiness is at home in Dharamsala, he wakes up at 3 am. After his morning shower, His Holiness begins the day with prayers, meditations and prostrations until 5 am. From 5 am His Holiness takes a short morning walk around the residential premises. If it is raining outside, His Holiness has a treadmill to use for his walk. Breakfast is served at 5.30 am. For breakfast, His Holiness typically has hot porridge, tsampa (barley powder), bread with preserves, and tea. Regularly during breakfast, His Holiness tunes his radio to the BBC World News in English. From 6 am to 9 am His Holiness continues his morning meditation and prayers.
From around 9 am he usually spends time studying various Buddhist texts and commentaries written by great Buddhist masters. Lunch is served from 11.30 am. His Holiness’s kitchen in Dharamsala is vegetarian. However, during visits outside of Dharamsala, His Holiness is not necessarily vegetarian. Following strict vinaya rules, His Holiness does not have dinner. Should there be a need to discuss some work with his staff or hold some audiences and interviews, His Holiness will visit his office from 12.30 pm until around 3.30 pm. Typically, during an afternoon at the office one interview is scheduled along with several audiences, both Tibetan and non-Tibetan. Upon his return to his residence, His Holiness has his evening tea at around 5 pm. This is followed by his evening prayers and meditation. His Holiness retires in the evening by around 7 pm.