Dalai Lama turns 86, still longs for Wutai Shan pilgrimage in China

Published on Jul 06, 2021 12:10 PM IST

The 14th Dalai Lama is a major hurdle to President Xi Jinping's Sinicization of Tibet plan. It is only a matter of time when Beijing announces the reincarnation of Tenzin Gyatso and causes a political tsunami in the world of Tibetan Buddhism.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in an interview with the author in 2018.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama in an interview with the author in 2018.
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

At the first India-China senior military commanders meeting after the Indian Army captured strategic heights on Rezang La-Rechin La on Kailash Range between August 29-31 last year on south banks of Pangong Tso, the PLA commander insisted that India removed the Special Frontier Forces (SFF) from the frontlines in East Ladakh. Comprising of Tibetan expats, the highly secretive SFF was deployed all along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) by the Modi government and its commandos played a special role in capturing the mountain heights dominating Chinese Moldo garrison next to Spanggur Tso in Chushul Sector. The fact is that one SFF JCO lost his life in the operation and was subsequently decorated posthumously by the government for his bravery.

The Chinese army was most upset at the SFF deployment as they are seen to be supporters of the 14th Dalai Lama, who turned 86 today. While the Dalai Lama meditates in McLeodganj in Himachal Pradesh now, the Xi Jinping regime has already plotted the post-14th Dalai Lama scenario and will announce Chinese Communist Party (CCP) approved successor from Tibet once the biological life of the head of Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism gets over. The 14th Dalai Lama, however, finds the Chinese interest in his reincarnation not only illogical till such time the CCP recognizes the reincarnation of its leaders Moa Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the Dalai Lama on his birthday. "Spoke on phone to His Holiness the @DalaiLama to convey greetings on his 86th birthday. We wish him a long and healthy life," he said on Twitter.


In exile now for 62 years, the 14th Dalai Lama has been a symbol of struggle for the Tibetan people to the entire world. Perhaps his only desire is to go on a pilgrimage to China to visit the Wutai Shan, the sacred five peak mountain in Shamxi province which is the earthly abode of the Bodhisatva Manjusri. In an interview to this author at Bodh Gaya in 2018, he said: "Way back in 1954, I had expressed my desire to Chinese government to visit Wutai Shan but was told that there was no road. I still have that desire but it is upto the Chinese government. Historically, the Wutai Shan is seat of Deva of wisdom. Whether I am there or not, that wisdom of the Deva is already in my brain.”

But in his heart the Dalai Lama knows that he will never be able to return to Tibet with the Chinese calling him names like "splittist" or even a "terrorist". He is perhaps the only one who stands between President Xi Jinping and his dream of Sinicization of Tibet. Last August, President Xi spelt out his three-step plan for Fortress Tibet at a high-level meeting. Step one was to promote Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism or what has been euphemistically called Buddhism with Chinese characterstics. Step two is to strengthen political and ideological education in Tibet or was is another word for re-education in communist parlance. Step three is building an impregnable fortress around Tibet by strengthening border defences and frontier security of Tibet.

Fact is that the PLA has used the on-going military stand-off with India to bolster defences in both Tibet and Xinjiang, where the Muslim Uyghurs are at odds with Han China. The troop, rocket, missile and fighter deployment in Tibet and Xinjiang has been increased manifolds with blast pens being strengthened at airbases in Kashgar, Hotan, Gar-Gunsa, Lhasa and Nyingchi, all aimed at India, and Han consolidation of Tibet and Xinjiang.

Xi Jinping’s Sinicization of Tibet plan was also reflected in his speech on July 1 to celebrate the 100 years of CCP. He said: “We have never bullied, oppressed, or subjugated the people of any country, and we never will. By the same token, we will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or subjugate us. Anyone who will attempt to do so will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.”

Much as China tries to subjugate the Tibetans and Buddhism in the name of Middle Kingdom, the 14th Dalai Lama and 150,000 Tibetans in exile all over the world represent the aspirations of those who are not allowed to speak within Fortress Tibet. That is why the CCP hates the Dalai Lama.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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