Temples of Sri Lanka


Buddhist spiritual leader His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama celebrates 87th birthday on 06th July 2022, three weeks from today. We Sri Lankans wish His Holiness the Dalai Lama good health and longevity..

The Dalai Lama’s escape to India marked a crucial moment, not just in Tibetan history, but also in the evolution of Indo-Chinese relationship. Chinese protests against Indian refuge to him can be heard even, 63 years after the spiritual leader came to India. Simultaneously, his entry into India also ushered in large scale Tibetan refugee influx to India. These Tibetans continue to dwell in several parts of India.

On March 10, 1959, Chinese general Zhang Chenwu invited the Dalai Lama to a performance by a Chinese dance troupe. Soon after though, he received a message from the General asking him to appear without any soldiers or armed bodyguards. The peculiar request by the Chinese was expectedly met with a large amount of suspicion from the Tibetans who had in any case been suffering the oppression of the Chinese for over a decade. By the beginning of 1950s, a large part of Tibet had been forcefully acquired by the Chinese army. The next few years were witness to the Dalai Lama trying to evade a full scale military takeover of Tibet by Chinese forces. The Chinese on the other hand had been trying their best to indoctrinate him into the Communist ideologies.

Given the backdrop of Chinese aggression in Tibet, the officials surrounding the Dalai Lama were quick to guess a sense of deceit in the Chinese invitation. As a cautionary measure, he was soon advised to escape from Tibet. On March 17, 1959 therefore, the Dalai Lama dressed up as a soldier and slipped out of the shelter of the monastery that he would never see again. Accompanying him were 20 of his officials. Barefoot, the spiritual leader made his way across the arduous Himalayan region, that included crossing the 500 yard wide Brahmaputra river.

For the next two weeks, there was no word of the Tibetan leader. In Tibet, as per a report of Time magazine, rumours floated about that the holy leader was screened off from the view of Chinese planes by “mist and low clouds conjured up by the prayers of the Buddhist holy men.” He finally reached India on March 30 and settled down at the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh. The following month he reached Mussoorie in present day Uttarakhand, where he was later met by then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to discuss the future of the Tibetan refugees who followed him.

Meanwhile, back in Tibet the Chinese imposed a curfew in Lhasa and close to 2000 people died in the ensuing battle between the local people and the Chinese soldiers. Close to 800 artillery shells were fired into the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. A day later, China announced the dissolution of the Tibetan governing body and a Tibetan autonomous region was established within the People’s Republic of China.

According to many Buddhist monks losing Tibet is a great loss to the Buddhist world because Tibet was a Buddhist country and the Tibetans led by the Dalai Lama are peaceful and compassionate human beings. Recently in Sri Lanka, in a function in Kandy, when Sri Lankan Tibetan Buddhist Brotherhood Society celebrated the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, an Anunayake thero said in his speech “the Dalai Lama is a gift not only to the Tibetans also to the entire humanity. He is a true example of a great Buddhist monk who has proved his tolerance, determination and great compassion having spent all these years living in exile. He saw his people, his relatives, his colleagues dying and his country being forcefully taken away from him. He still practices compassion like a living Buddha.” The Anunayake Thero added that the Buddhist monks of Sri Lanka honour India mainly for two reasons: gifting us the Buddha dhamma and giving shelter to the Dalai Lama.

Looking back, the Dalai Lama’s arrival in India has been by far the most dramatic visit by any foreign politician. As pointed out by him couple of days back he is the “longest guest of the Indian government.


Source: How the Dalai Lama Escaped to Arunachal Pradesh 58 Years Back,


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