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Grasping For The Shadow Of Identity

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Autor:   •  September 23, 2010  •  2,460 Words (10 Pages)  •  610 Views

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Grasping for the Shadow of Identity

There once lived a peaceful, ancient culture, isolated from civilization, living in peace and harmony with its surroundings, grounded in deep faith springing from its religious leader, blooming like a rose in the majestic hills. In what seemed like only minutes, this nation I speak of suddenly became a communist, occupied country, with no identity of its own, with an outlawed flag and an exiled leader. This nation is Tibet. After more than 2,000 years of freedom, one day in 1959 changed this country's identity. In 1959, Tibet was occupied by the Chinese, who claimed that Tibet had always rightfully belonged to them. Tibet's national flag is now outlawed, and its political and religious leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, is in exile in Dharamsala, India. Tibet is in disarray, and their culture and government now reflect that of the Chinese, though they are and have been making strong efforts to regain their freedom.

Tibet has had a very ancient and illustrious history prior to the Chinese takeover. The nation began in 1063 B.C. Five hundred years before Buddha came into this world, a man named Lord Shenrab Miwo founded the Tibetan Bon religion. With this event, an empire named Shangshung ruled all of Tibet. This empire had eighteen kings before its decline. After the Shangsung Empire declined, a new kingdom called Bod came into existence. Bod is the current name of Tibet (Tibetan Studies).

The Tibetan calendar places its origin in the year 127 B.C., when the kingdom was united under one ruler (King Nyatri Tsempo). This lineage of kings continues for over 1,000 years, until King Lang Darma was assassinated in 842 A.D. This period of kings had three kings that really did good things for Tibet, and they were called the Three Great Kings (Tibetan Studies 21). The three kings were Gampo, Detson, and Ralpachen. Under Gampo (629-649), Tibet became a serious military power, and Gampo was a great supporter of Buddism, so this religion gained prominence in Tibet. King Detson was in power during the peak of the Tibet power (755-797). During his reign, Tibet seized the Chinese capital, and adopted the Indian form of Buddism, built the first monastery in Tibet, and declared Buddism the state religion in Tibet. During the reign of Ralplachen (815-836), Tibet continued as a military power and won many key victories, and reached a peace treaty with China (Tibet: An Occupied Country).

After Ralplachen, his brother took the throne and tried to reinstate the Bon religion and persecuted the Buddhists. He was then assassinated by a Buddhist monk, and the kingdom was divided between his two sons. Everyone was warring for power, and it caused the then powerful kingdom to be divided into a great number of little princedoms. This caused a dark period to fall over Tibet (842-1247), and until 1358, the Sakya monastery lamas ruled Tibet (Watts, Jacob 24).

After this period, the lamas themselves no longer ruled, but were spiritual teachers of the various kings of Tibet. The most influential lama of the time was Sonam Gyatso (1543), and the king labeled him the Dalai Lama, meaning "Ocean of Wisdom". This is the first time that someone was called the Dalai Lama. One of the turning points in Tibetan history came in 1642, when the Fifth Dalai Lama (Ngawang Loozang Gyatso) took control of Tibet's government. Where as the previous Dalai Lamas were just teachers, and had just spiritual authority over Tibet, the Fifth Dalai Lama took both spiritual control, and temporal control over Tibet. This established the current system of government (Horowitz, Daniel 13).

This is also the point in time that Tibet's relationship with China became especially relevant to Tibet's current status, because China claims that Tibet has always been in their control. The Fifth Dalai Lama demanded that China recognize his sovereignty. China then recognized the Dalai Lama as an independent leader, and as an equal. Tibet's relationship with China became very close, and they were allies. The Chinese emperor even built a path that was above the city so that the Dalai Lama wouldn't have to go through any gates to enter the city of Peking. To preserve the rule of the lamas, the Fifth Dalai Lama stated that his lineage would continue in power. After the Fifth Dalai Lama's death, the Mongols and the Manchu invaded Tibet at several different occasions, each time, the invaders eventually driven out. These events pave the way for the recent history of the country before the Chinese invasion (Nobel, Laureate 4a)

After those events, some very important situations and events occurred that help to support Tibet's sovereignty as a nation separate from China. During the various invasions by the Manchus and Mongols, Tibet never seemed to lose their sovereignty as nation. The Tibetan people still recognized the Central Tibetan Government (with the Dalai Lama as the head) as a legal government in Tibet. Also, in 1856, a treaty was signed between Tibet and Nepal, and this treaty made no reference whatsoever to China, which seems to support the idea that China had no control over the actions of Tibet. But, perhaps the clearest proof of the sovereignty of Tibet in that period in its history is the internal war that broke out in the middle of the nineteenth century. To solve the conflict the Tibetan government sent an army, and crushed the invasion of a neighboring chiefdom, and set up a Tibetan governor to supervise the affairs of the two lands involved. This clearly illustrates the power of the Tibetan army and government to rule their country, with no influence by China at all (Tibet: An Occupied Country).

To further support Tibet's sovereignty, China put up no protest when, in 1904, Britain invaded Tibet. China and Great Britain were close allies, and China wanted England to send an exploration into Tibet, and the Tibetan government would not allow it. They tried many other times, and were turned away every time. Finally, on August 3, 1904, Britain invaded Tibet. During this invasion (that was not at all protested by China), Tibet conducted affairs as an independent country, and reached a treaty with England on September 7, 1904. Then, in 1909, China invaded Tibet, and during the Monlam Festival of 1910, Chinese soldiers raped, murdered, and plundered Lhasa (the city where the Dalai Lama lives), and the Dalai Lama was exiled. This invasion was eventually crushed in 1912. The president of China apologized, and wanted to restore the Dalai Lama. But, the Dalai Lama said that he wasn't asking for a rank from the Chinese, because he declared Tibet's independence, and took full control of Tibet's government. In 1913, Tibet and Mongolia signed a treaty, where both countries declared that they were independent

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