His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the
head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July
1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo,
northeastern Tibet. At the age of two the child, who was named
Lhamo Dhondup at that time, was recognized as the reincarnation of the
13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. The Dalai Lamas are believed to
be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of
Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are
enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to
take rebirth in order to serve humanity.
His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. The curriculum consisted of five major and five minor subjects. The major subjects were logic, Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, medicine, and Buddhist philosophy which was further divided into five categories: Prajnaparimita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology. The five minor subjects were poetry, music and drama, astrology, motre and phrasing, and synonyms. At 23 he sat for his final examination in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, during the annual Monlam (prayer) Festival in 1959. He passed with honours and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest-level degree equivalent to a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy.
In 1950 His Holiness was called upon to assume full political power after China's invasion of Tibet in 1949. In 1954, he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and Chou Enlai. But finally, in 1959, with the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, His Holiness was forced to escape into exile. Since then he has been living in Dharamsala, northern India, the seat of the Tibetan political administration in exile.
Since the Chinese invasion, His Holiness has appealed to the United Nations on the question of Tibet. The General Assembly adopted three resolutions on Tibet in 1959, 1961 and 1965.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a man of peace. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.
His Holiness has traveled to more than 62 countries spanning 6 continents. He has met with presidents, prime ministers and crowned rulers of major nations. He has held dialogues with the heads of different religions and many well-known scientists.
Since 1959 His Holiness has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. His Holiness has also authored more than 72 books,including Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of Dalai Lama, and is co-author of the New York Times national bestseller, The Art of Happiness.
His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.
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