Dalai Lama's birthday: Facts about the Tibetan spiritual leader
The Tibetan Buddhist community is celebrating the birthday of the Dalai Lama on Tuesday. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, turned 86 today.
He was born on July 6, 1935, in Tibet and came to India in 1959. He calls himself the "son of India".
Many leaders in India, including Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan, have wished the Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday. Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik shared one of his arts on the occasion on Twitter.
However, the Dalai Lama's coming to India was not taken well by leaders in China who frowned at India for giving him shelter.
Why is the Dalai Lama so important to China?
In 1950, the Chinese government invaded Tibet to peacefully liberate it. But the process was brutal and violent, after which there was an uprising of Tibetans in 1959 and the current Dalai Lama fled to India to set up a government in exile.
Dalai Lama is a highly influential figure of Tibetan culture, and his escape to India sparked major outrage in the region. China wants to control the appointment of the next spiritual leader of Tibet in order to firm up its grip on the Tibetan monastic order and in turn, control the region.
However, the Tibetans believe that China is attempting to manipulate the selection process as a way to strengthen its grip over Tibetan people.
How do Tibetans identify the next Dalai Lama?
Tibetans believe the Dalai Lama has control over his re-birth and he can choose the body into which he is reincarnated.
There are usually predictions about where and when a Dalai Lama will be reborn, but further tests and signs are required to ensure the proper child is found.
In the case of the 13th Dalai Lama, after his death, his body lay facing south. However, after a few days his head had tilted to the east and a fungus, viewed as unusual, appeared on the north-eastern side of the shrine, where his body was kept.
This was interpreted to mean that the next Dalai Lama could have been born somewhere in the north-eastern part of Tibet, reported Asia Times.
Disciples also checked Lhamo La-tso, a lake that is traditionally used to see visions of the location of the Dalai Lama's rebirth.
The district of Dokham, which is in the northeast of Tibet, matched all of these signs. A 2-year-old boy named Lhamo Dhondup was found to be at the right age for a reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, based on the time of his death. After further investigations, the search party identified the boy as the 14th Dalai Lama, who after taking over as the Tibetan spiritual leader changed his name to Tenzin Gyatso.