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The monk who inspired a hundred books

It is perhaps natural that the Dalai Lama who is revered as a spiritual guru, should inspire writers from the Orient and the West. Despite there being over 100 biographies and other books on the monk, writers continue to queue

books Updated: Aug 03, 2009, 15:30 IST
Vishal Gulati
Vishal Gulati

It is perhaps natural that the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader who is revered as a spiritual guru, should inspire writers from the Orient and the West. Despite there being over 100 biographies and other books on the monk, writers continue to queue for an audience with him.

Officials of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which is based in this northern Indian hill station, say that more biographies have been written on their spiritual guru than on any other spiritual leader in the world.

"I feel that there are more than 100 biographies written on His Holiness (the Dalai Lama). Of course, he is an idol of writers both in the Orient and the West. His writings and ideas have had a powerful impact on millions of people worldwide," Thubten Samphel, secretary of the department of information and international relations of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), told IANS.

"Tibetan writers have also written a lot of books on the Dalai Lama," he said.

The Nobel Peace laureate himself has written two autobiographies -- "My Land and My People" and "Freedom in Exile".

"The Dalai Lama's autobiography 'My Land and My People' and his spiritual teachings are quite popular among the Buddhist scholars, foreign travellers, historians, philosophers, teachers and social reformers," Samphel said.

Written by the Dalai Lama as a young man in exile, "My Land and My People" is a dignified testament that recreates the miraculous search that identified him as the reincarnated leader of his country. And it reveals the evolution of a man from a gentle monk to a world leader, one struggling to this day to free his country.

"Besides biographies, books on Buddhist inspirational teachings, religion, culture and world peace are much sought after. Every day we are selling eight to 10 such books. The buyers are mostly foreigners," Lhasang Tsering of The Bookworm, a bookstore at McLeodganj near here which deals with books only on Buddhism and the Dalai Lama, said.

The books that are much in demand include "Man, Monk, Mystic", written by Chicago-based Indian origin journalist Mayank Chhaya; "In My Own Words: An Introduction to My Teachings and Philosophy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama" edited by Rajiv Mehrotra; "365 Dalai Lama: Daily Advice from the Heart", published by HarperCollins India; "Great Ocean", written by Roger Hicks and Ngakpa Chogyam and "Portrait of a Dalai Lama", written by Sir Charles Bell.

James Pulitzer, a tourist from the US who was here to have audience with the Buddhist monk, said: "The reading of a book on the Dalai Lama is a meditative experience. It is like having an audience with the Dalai Lama where he could offer you personal advice on how to generate compassion and positive thoughts.

"I have especially purchased this book, 'The Art of Happiness at Work'. It's in fact a sequel to his earlier work, 'The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living', which contains the Dalai Lama's message on happiness. In this book, Howard Cutler together with the spiritual guru explores ways to finding happiness at workplace. During my vacations (in India), I will go through the entire book," Pulitzer said.

Born July 6, 1935 at Taktser hamlet in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama, 74, was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatso. He fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, basing his Tibetan government-in-exile here.

Around 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, over 100,000 of them in different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at

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