The Last Dalai Lama? Essay

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The Last Dalai Lama? The twentieth century is rife with examples of countries being torn apart or experiencing great upheaval. Multi-ethnic Yugoslavia broke apart into several nation states with loose foundations. The Soviet Union collapsed, transforming the area into the Commonwealth of Independent States. Germany split in half as a result of World War II and then reunited over forty years later. One country that has experienced tremendous crisis and upheaval on a scale even greater than these European nations, yet often goes unnoticed, is Tibet. Tibet enjoyed peace and autonomy until 1949 when Chinese Communists invaded the country under the guise of the "Peaceful Liberation." Coveting Tibet’s vast natural resources and strategic…show more content…
The Dalai Lama’s political dealings with Communist China and his rule of the exile community exemplify the changed role of the institution of the Dalai Lama. Before assessing the pivotal role of the fourteenth Dalai Lama in the twentieth century, it is important to examine the traditional role of the Dalai Lama in Tibet. The official religion of Tibet is Buddhism, a major tenet of which is reincarnation. Each Dalai Lama is considered to be an incarnation of Chenrezig, who was the patron deity of Tibet, and an enlightened Buddha of compassion. Up until 1950 the Dalai Lama was the supreme religious authority of Tibet. Isolated from most of society, he had a deep sense of mystery about him. Gedun Truppa was the first Dalai Lama, and he lived from 1391 to 1475. He studied at several monastic colleges, and was a teacher, a prolific writer, and a builder of monasteries. It is interesting to point out that he was posthumously declared as the first Dalai Lama. Perhaps at that point in history the need for a central religious force necessitated the institution of the Dalai Lama. The second Dalai Lama, Gendun Gyatso, was a monk and an abbot of two monasteries. He was given a suite of buildings in Lhasa from the king, so probably from this point on the residence of the Dalai Lama became situated in the city of Lhasa. The third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso, converted Mongolia to the Buddhist religion, and the fourth
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