The 13th Dalai Lama - Thubten Gyatso
Born on 12 February 1876 and died on 17 December 1933 near Sam-ye Monastery, Tak-po province, Thubten Gyatso was the 13th Dalai Lama.
After he was recognized as the reincarnation, he was sent to Lhasa with guards. The Panchen Lama, Tenpai Wangchuk gave him the Pre-novice vows and named him "Ngawang Lobsang Thupten Gyatso Jigdral Chokley Namgyal". Though his enthronement happened in 1897, he didn't get full political power until he reached his adulthood in 1895.
He was an brilliant reformer as well as a prominent politician. During his time, Tibet was the pawn between Russia, China and Britain. He skillfully dealt with all kinds of affairs like preventing the British expedition from entering Tibet, rebuilding a disciplined life style for the monks, and recruiting more lay officials in order to avoid the over power of monks.
The Lama was friendly to his tutor and "debating partner", Agvan Dorzhiev. Agvan Dorzhiev was a Russian who left home at nineteen and completed the traditional course of religious studies in the largest monastery in Tibet. He further learned the academic Buddhist degree of Geshey Lharampa (the highest level of 'Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy') and became Tsanid-Hambo, or "Master of Buddhist Philosophy". He was appointed as an envoy to Russia and other countries by Dalai Lama.
Thubten Gyatso met C.G.E. Mannerheim when the latter took an expedition to Tibet. Mannerheim wrote his diary in his mother tongue--Swidish--to hide the fact that his expedition was actually an intelligence gathering mission for the Russian army. The 13th Dalai Lama also gave him a blessing of white silk to send to the Russian Tsar and Mannerheim in return gave the Lama a precious seven-shot officer's pistol, and elaborately explained how to use it.
The 14th Dalai Lama commented:
"Obviously, The Thirteenth Dalai Lama had a keen desire to
establish relations with Russia, and I also think he was a little
sceptical toward England at first. Then there was Dorjiev. To the
English he was a spy, but in reality he was a good scholar and a
sincere Buddhist monk who had great devotion to the Thirteenth
Other expeditions included John Weston Brooke's two expeditions into Tibet in October 1906. He was also the first Englishman to gain an audience with the Dalai Lama. At the same year, the 9th Panchen Lama at Tashilhunpo invited Sir Charles Alfred Bell to visit him. They discussed the political situation in an friendly atmosphere.
Tibet under His Exiles
After Sir Francis Younghusband's expedition to Tibet in 1904, the Dalai Lama was convinced by Dorzhiev to flee to Urga in Mongolia, a place fifteen thousand miles from Lhasa. The travel took four months, and the Lama stayed there for another twelve month, giving his teaching to local people.
Right after his flee, the Qing Dynasty deposed him and declared full authority over Tibet, as well as Nepal and Bhutan. Then on 7 September 1904, Britain, the Qing Amban, Nepalese and Bhutanese representatives and the Tibetan government signed a peace treaty in the Potala Palace, with provisions of the treaty were signed in 1906 between Britain and China. Britain agreed "not to annex Tibetan territory or to interfere in the administration of Tibet", in exchange of a fee paid by China. China then proclaimed "not to permit any other foreign state to interfere with the territory or internal administration of Tibet".
After staying at the great Kumbum Monastery near Xining, the Dalai Lama paid a visit to Beijing and meet Emperor Guangxu and Empress Dowager Cixi. He refused to kowtow to the emperor but the emperor tried to make him understand Tibet's subservient role. After his returning to Tibet in 1908, he reorganized the government but was suppressed by the military troops of Qing. The Lama then fled to India.
In 1911, the Xinhai Revolution overthrew the Qing Dynasty and all Qing troops left Tibet by the end of 1912.
Back from His Exiles
With the aide of the monasteries, which had great influence with the Regent, Thubten Gyatso regained his ruling power in 1895. Since he was exiled twice(one from 1904 to 1909 because of the British invasion, the other from 1910 to 1913 because of the Chinese invasion), he was the first Dalai Lama who recognized the complexity of politics and the importance of foreign relations. He took six ministers and a small escort, including Tsarong Dzasa, his close aide, diplomat and military figure, fled to Darjeeling via Sikkim. They stayed there for almost two year and was invited to Calcutta by the Viceroy, Lord Minto. He later helped the Lama with the restore relations with Britain.
The Lama returned to Tibet during January 1913 with Tsarong Dzasa from his exile place Darjeeling. The new Chinese government promised the Lama his former position as their apology for the Qing Dynasity. He expressed his indifference in ranks and thus assumed spiritual and political leadership in Tibet.
After his return, he controlled the foreign relations. Instead of letting the Kashag or parliament do the dealing with the Maharaja and the British Political officer in Sikkim and the king of Nepal, he did all the work himself.
In early 1913, he declared independence from China. The Tibetan flag was standardized. The first postage stamps of Tibet were edited at the end of 1912. A new medical college (Mentsikang) was built during 1913 on the site of the post-revolutionary traditional hospital near the Jokhang.
He also introduced the legislate system to prevent corruptions. He established taxation system and enforced it. At last, he created the police system and revised the penal system as well as made uniform for the whole region.
"Capital punishment was completely abolished and corporal
punishment was reduced. Living conditions in jails were also
improved, and officials were designated to see that these
conditions and rules were maintained."
As for education, he added a secular education system to the religious education system. Promising students were sent to foreign countries and foreigners were welcome to come, no matter Japanese, British or Americans.
He also showed great interest in world affairs due to his contacts with foreign powers. Electricity, the telephone and the first motor cars were introduced to Tibet for the first time. However, in 1933, also the end of his time, Tibet was entering his dark age.
He said before his death:
"Very soon in this land (with a harmonious blend of religion and politics) deceptive acts may occur from without and within. At that time, if we do not dare to protect our territory, our spiritual personalities including the Victorious Father and Son (Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama) may be exterminated without trace, the property and authority of our Lakangs (residences of reincarnated lamas) and monks may be taken away. Moreover, our political system, developed by the Three Great Dharma Kings (Tri Songtsen Gampo, Tri Songdetsen and Tri Ralpachen) will vanish without anything remaining. The property of all people, high and low, will be seized and the people forced to become slaves. All living beings will have to endure endless days of suffering and will be stricken with fear. Such a time will come."
He further predicted the invasion of Tibet and called his successor to get prepared for the Lama would die early. He expected the next Dalai Lama would act as a leader in the future invasion. In December 1933, the 13th Dalai Lama died in Lhasa, at the age of 54.
The 13th Dalai Lama
His retreat place.
The 13th Dalai Lama(in 1910)
The 13th Dalai Lama and the King of Sikkim, Darjeeling, India
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