· Tibetan Buddhism


Old Tibet: Shackled Serf Tilling the Land with wooden tools


New Tibet: Celebrating Tibetan Serf’s Emancipation Day with Smiles all round

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibet in the 8th Century

Tibetan Buddhism is unique. To appreciate Tibetan Buddhist culture we have to look into Tibet’s history. Tibet’s history goes back more than 4000 years. Before the advent of Buddhism, Tibet was in the Kingdom of Shang Dhung and that the official religion under that kingdom was the religious tradition of Bon.

Like most primitive religions, animism was the fundamental springboard of those religions. People viewed the world that was pervaded by good and evil spirits and shamans appeared who claimed that they could ward off evil spirits with chants, dances, spells, and talismans. These shamans, priests and diviners were important figures in the early society and enjoyed a high social status. Shamans were prevalent during the Yin dynasty in China during the period 770 – 476 BC. In China animistic Taoism was greatly influenced by the practice of shamans. This, no doubt, had influence on the Bon religion of Tibet of that same period. The similarity of animism, shamanism, and Taoism in China influenced the Tibetan Bon religion and is reflected in the many similarities of the two cultures. [1]

Early Tibetans were nomadic tribes who herded yak, ponies, mules, sheep and goats and struggled to find pastures. This led to battles between tribes for territorial control of pasture lands. The enemies of defeated lands were killed or made slaves as these nomads ranged into areas such as Sichuan, the Yunnan Province, Xinjiang, and Qinghai. The Tibetans were thus influenced by the Chinese culture of shamanism and later Taoism. The Chinese have always viewed Tibetans as another ethnic minority group of the many Chinese ethnic clans. But the Tibetans had a variant religion known as Bon, led by shamans. The Bons practiced animal and human sacrifices. In due course, the Tubo clan emerged as the dominant tribe and ruled the whole of Tibet. (Tibet comes from the word Tubo.) [2]

Early China-Tibet Ties

During the Tang Dynasty, 618-907, in order to strengthen the bonds of the Chinese Empire, The Chinese Emperor Taizong gave one of his daughters, princess Wenzheng in marriage to the Tubo King, Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. This permitted both rulers the stability, during that era of warlords, upsetting the stability in the region. The Princess was well trained for her role in Tibet. The Tang’s being Buddhist brought with her skilled craftsmen, scribes and retinue, all trained in the ceremonial rituals of the Tang Emperors. Rituals that have influenced Monastic life ever since. She was also determined to introduce her Buddhist philosophies to Tibet. However this was bitterly resisted by the Bon shamans who sabotaged her influence. This is a clear precussor of the power of and influence of shamans that later evolved into the High Priests of Tibetan Buddhism. However, this marriage tie of a Tang Princess to the Tubo King of Tibet ensured harrmony and promoted active trade between China and Tibet. It also established, in the 7th Century, the bond and the ties and the domination of The Tang Emperor over Tibet is a Tributary state. The ceremonial rituals of obeisances of the Tubo King to the Tang Emperor in the exchange of gifts and the offering of annual tributes clearly defined the relattionship between the two territories.  It is legendary in the history of China and such tales are told to all the children of that nation for centuries. There is no doubt in the minds of all of China that Tibet has always been one of the many ethnic monority clans within China and a tributary region of China. Some years later, another Tang Princess was again married to another Tubo King to further cement the ties between the to parts of China.

Two pro-Bon Tibetan ministers assassinated the Buddhist Tubo King in 838 AD, and the Bon religion was declared the only acceptable religion in Tibet. Buddhists were persecuted and forced into hiding. Trade however continued over the period 907 to 1279 AD over several dynasties. There were often skirmishes between the armed warlord gangs against the Tang forces and on one occasion in 750 AD Tibetans on horseback rode into the Tang capital of Ghang’an but were eventually driven off.

Meanwhile, Buddhism resurfaced again because the Buddhists cunningly began to blend in some of the practices of the Bon religion into their practices, resulting in a hybrid religion which created a unique Tibetan Buddhism ever since. Tibetan Buddhism is sometimes referred to as Lamaism.

In the 8th Century, Songtsen Gampo conquered Shang Shung and established a united Tibet and introduced Buddhism as the chosen religion of the state. The Bon priests attempted to use their influence through their royal connections and through political ministers by claiming supernatural powers but the Tubo Royaql Family spurred on by Buddhist priests banned the bon and the assassination of Lang Darma (Bon) saw the decline of Bon and the ascendency of Buddhism. However, the remaining Bon followers adapted and introduced reforms to harmonize with the Buddhist doctrines and today 3 Bon sects have managed to survive. [3]

Early Buddhism in Tibet

Siddhattha Gotama was born a prince whose father Suddhadana was the ruler of the sakyas people that lay on the border between Nepal and India. India was essentially a Hindu country at that time. Siddhattha must have noted the poverty and the misery of the people who lived in the villages and contemplated upon it. He observed, a poor old fvillager in his poverty and misery, he saw a sick man when nothing could be done for his sufferings but to await death, he saw a corpse lying in the dirt road and no one cdfared or bothered, he saw and was impressed with a religious recdluse huddled in his abject poverty, helpless and dying but at peace with himself. He began to question the misery and breviuty of human exisatence and he wanted to find an answer. He decided to forsake his luxurious and opulent life as a prince, and he donned garments of a hermit and went out to seek an answer. He led the life of a samana devoting his time to searching for the religious answer to all this suffereng around him as a religious medicant. He was tutored by religious Hindu leaders of this time like Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta leading exponents of meditation of the day, but still he did not find the answers he was looking for.

Gautama studied the Hindu scriptures under Brahmin priests but that did not satisfy his questioning nor provide him with the answers. He became disillusioned with the teachings of Hinduism and decided to find solutions from meditation and leading the life of an ascetic (self denial) in the wilderness. Before long he realized that leading the life of an ascetic and mendicant weakened his body and slowed his mind and was not the road to the peace and self-realisation that he hoped for. The answers could not be achieved by self-denial and humility alone. This realization allowed him to rise above the basic Hindu concepts of submission and humility and forced him to seek enlightenment through another avenue. [4] [5]

This avenue was to be a life of deep meditation. Meditation would have been meaningless had he not already spent some years studying Hindu scriptures and Hindu philosophy and he contemplated upon what he knew of Hindu tenets and beliefs. He had begun his quest for knowledge when he was about 29 years of age, and after 6 years of study and meditation and the age of 35 years, while in deep contemplation under a Bhodi tree (a fig tree), he felt enlightened and could understand the causes and reactions to pain and suffering. He felt that he had found the final link to understand human sufferings and how to cope with it. The “enlightened one” had found the answers to “Nirvana” and became Buddha. He now began to preach his new found philosophy to the world about him. Buddha never claimed to be a deity, neither did he ever advocate the worship of any deity, but that his philosophy was the “way” to attain “nirvana” or “peace and tranquillity”, the ultimate of human achievement. This tranquillity may not be achieved in one lifetime, but through the Hindu beliefs of “re-incarnation” through the striving of human endeavour for perfection.

Gautama evolved his philosophy of the “Four Noble Truths” detailed by “The Eight Fold Path” as the aid to achieve Nirvana. [A simplified version is listed because the article is about Tibetan Buddhism rather than Buddhism in general.]

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism

(1)  The first Noble Truth is to acknowledge that pain and suffering is part of this world.

(2)  The Second Noble Truth is the root cause of suffering is desire.

(3)  The Third Noble Truth is suffering ceases when all desires are ridden.

(4)  The Fourth Noble Truth is the path to eliminate desire is to follow the eight-fold path of Buddha.

The Eight-Fold Path of Buddhism

(1)  To Posses the Right Views.
(2)  To have the Right Resolve.
(3)  To have the Right Speech.
(4)  To have the Right Behaviour.
(5)  To have the right Occupation.
(6)  To make the Right Effort.
(7)  To have the Right Contemplation.
(8)  To have the Right Meditation.

The Essence of Buddhism

It is the belief of Buddhists that we are the masters of our own destiny. We are all able, by our own personal efforts attain “a state of peace and eternal bliss”, i.e. Nirvana. This is the universal appeal of Buddhism, which bridges all faiths because it has no deities, and that the philosophy may apply to all faiths. And the criteria can be universally acceptable. Hence the rapid spread of the Buddhist ideologies across Asia, some independent of other religions and others of infusing Buddhist beliefs on the more animistic and more ancient religions like the Bon and Taoist religions. Examining the degrees of the absorption or influence of Buddhist doctrines into other religions such Taoism, or Bod, or Hindu religions is a fascination topic, and we will be looking into its influence in Tibet: [6]

The Cultural environment Affecting the Spread of Buddhism


Siddhatta Gotama’s philosophies developed under the influence of Hinduism and spurred on by his observations of the poverty, deprivation, and sufferings of the common people of his country. This one man around the year 534 BC finally stirred by the inadequacies of the Hindu religion to satisfy his questioning of the reasons for human suffering began his search for answers. Hinduism had always existed in India in one level or other of evolution since the late Neolithic times (5500 BC), and had always been the culture of India. This was later influenced by Buddhist, and Islamic thinking.

Like most primitive religions Hinduism arose out of the philosophy of animism. Hindus believed that all life have an atman (inner self, or spirit). And naturally the next concept was to find the relationship of birth and death to form some sense of death. The notion of samsara (reincarnation) became an acceptable explanation to ward off the fear of death. That in death there was hope in returning in one form or another in accordance with the virtuous or immoral life one lived. This in turn set the codes for Hindu moral conduct. By leading a moral life (karma) through endless reincarnations one hope to achieve Brahman, when one’s atman achieves eternity or perfection of peace and tranquillity and the attainment of the end of reincarnation.

This philosophy, in Hinduism included the worship of many deities, or polytheism. There was also much ritualism, colourful and ornate decorations, accompanied with bells, cymbals, and other music to maintain the attention of the devotees. It appealed to the population and has served their followers for thousands of years. It formed their culture and values of life. It was sufficient for millions of followers but it remained a religion of the sub-continent of  Asia more or less.

Hinduism sustained peoples in a social society that was largely feudal in hierarchy. Hinduism reinforced this feudal hierarchy and created the Hindu caste system that has and continues to dominate the social structure of the Indian psyche and social structure of their society to this day. Buddhism provided an escape from this entrapment of the caste system but not from feudalism. [5]


To the north of Tibet lay the Kingdom of China, an ancient civilization with a culture quite different to that to the south of Tibet. Geographically, China was much more accessible to Tibet and her citizens than India and despite disputes of ethnic origins. Tibetans are ethnically little different from the Han Chinese of China. In fact recent genetic analysis has shown that both Han and Tibetan peoples have a common Y-chromosome that establishes their genetic origins.

Although Chinese early culture was based on Taoism, and Lao Tze (c.604-521 BC), has been credited as the father of Taoism because of literature attributed to him, known as “Tao Te Ching”, he was simply the first scholar to have written  those thoughts in writing.  Actually, Taoist traditions and customs can be trace back into Neolithic era 4,000 BC, based on oracle bone fragments, and ancient pottery. Clearer evidence of Taoist traditions from archaeological evidence is more apparent during the Shang Dynasty 1766-1050 BC. But written records were not in evidence as writing was only being evolved during this period.

The Dao religion was an animistic religion as all early religions were. They were polytheistic religions, tied closely to physical interpretations and included ancient shamanism in their practices. The social culture was tribalism formed of family or clan groups and family orientated. This eventually developed into larger clans based on a feudal system. This feudal system was a natural evolution from the family hierarchy, and extended to the hierarchy of the war lord structure in territorial hierarchy. However, within these social structures the role of Taoism regulated the lives of the people.

About this same period the rulers of China were known fro their primitive, harsh and merciless rule of the people. Being a feudal society, and a soceity of animistic philosophy, and a country ruled by Kings, war-lords, Brigands, and Bandits, the rulers were harsh and cruel to maintain respect and order. There was also much poverty, sufferings, cruelty, and intolerance and life was cheap. Taoism did not have the solution to pacify the intemperate nature of the rulers and brutality was the only method of controlling the peasants. [7]


About the same period when Lao Tze’s philosophies had surfaced another thinker, Confucius (551-479 BC) appeared. He was disturbed by the lack of national and civil order around him and the cruelty exhibited by the rulers. He extolled the development of a harmonious relationships between peoples. His philosophies were basically about these relationships, summarized as follows:

(1)  There should be kindness in a father, and obedience and devotion in the son.
(2)  There should be gentility in the oldest Brother and humility and respect in the younger sons.
(3)  There should be righteous behaviour in the husband and obedience in the wife.
(4)  There should be humane considerations in elders and deference in the juniors.
(5)  There should be benevolence in rulers and loyalty of ministers and subjects.

Then there will be harmony.
China was of course a feudal society and remained so until the fall of the Emperors. The Confucian philosophies were but philosophies, but it complimented the philosophy of Lao Tze. Although Lao Tze’s philosophies evolved as the Taoism religion, Confucianism was a philosophy. However, much of his philosophical thoughts were blended into Taoism and later into Buddhist thought that it was difficult to separate the various thoughts. Confucius never claimed any divine revelations, nor has he ever claimed any supernatural insights. They were the thoughts of a sage. But his philosophies blended into the needs of a harmonious communal life and he was venerated for this. Confucianism was not a religious doctrine, but a human philosophy. [8]

The Mongol Influence in Tibet

By the 13th Century, Buddhism had already spread into China from India with its organizational religious hierarchy. The Buddhist philosophies seemed to meet some of the inadequacies of the less developed Tao philosophies and received a welcome to many Taoists. Many of the organizational and ceremonial attributes of Buddhism were absorbed into the Taoist practices. At this time, the Mongols of northern China were attracted to Buddhism and absorbed it into their beliefs and way of life.

Tibetans learned of the might of Genghis Khan in 1207, when he ruthlessly sacked the Tangut Empire that lay to the northeast of Tibet. The Tibetan elders immediately sent a delegation to the Mongol headquarters to pay obeisance to Genghis Khan and fully accepting the authority of the Mongols. Thus Tibet was spared the onslaught and destruction and was peacefully absorbed into the Mongol Empire.

Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis, finally subdued the Chinese Sung Dynasty in 1279 and ruled China until his death in 1294. After the death of this great ruler, the Yuan Dynasty disintegrated and the Mongol Empire began to break up. [9]

The First Grand Lama of Tibetan Buddhism was Created by The Yuan Dynasty

Kublai Khan, the first Yuan Emperor, appointed the first Grand Lama of Tibet. This Grand Lama was to preside over all the other lamas and Buddhists in China. However, the frist Grand Lama in recognition of his predecessor’s two previous “incarnations” who were then retroactively recognized, thus transforming the 1st lama to the the 3rd lama. This newly appointed lama, with the knowledge and the backing of the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan then seized and destroyed monasterist that did not belong to his sect and destroyed Buddhist writings that conflicted with his claim to divinity. There followed a struggle for power and control and several subsequent lamas were murdered by their high priests or courtiers in the struggle of the different sects for dominance brutal reprisals to gain the upper hand. There was little compassion or compromise in the struggles. Isolated Tibetan society as a poor and primitive feudal society, as was most of China. Brutality was a accepted social behaviour.

Geographically isolated, and politically protected by the Mongol rulers, the Grand Lama soon gained confidence and absolute power in Tibet. The socieal order of that period was deudalism, and serfdom, and the acceptance of slaves in society. This feudalistic system was incorporated into the Buddhist religious hierarchy with the different ranks of priesthoods waited upon by serfs.

The Yuan Dynasty had divided Tibet into different areas that come under the charge of Imperial preceptors. Feudalism was encouraged as a system of controlling the polupation by the stern hierarchical control. However, the Yuan dynasty did not last long and was overtaken by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 =276 years). [3]

Tibet under the Ming Dynasty
The Ming family were not of Mongolian stock, and were shrewder rulers. They could not be sure of Tibetan loyalties. They maintained power and control by creating dissension and instability among local rulers or warlords. They did this by conferring hereditary titles to several opposing nobles in a province to ensure that their jealousies forced them to maintain their loyalties to the Emperor to gain his support. It was their form of divide and rule.

So although the most powerful Tibetan family, the Rinpung family, had the Desi Lama (ruling lama) status and position, the Ming Emperor also conferred enough official titles among the Desi lama’s subordinates so that separatist movements were a possibility. Among these a title was conferred on the head of a newly founded sect, the Gelugpa sect, also known as the Yellow sect. [3]

Tibet under the Qing Dynasty

Finally, the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911=1767 years) replaced the Ming Dynasty. At this time, the Fifth Desi Lama was Lama Ngawang Losang Gyatso (1617-1682). The Fifth Desi Lama Gyatso was a significant Lama in what he achieved. The Desi Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists also established the governance of the people of Tibet. He drew up civil laws, appointed civil governors and ministers of state, and fromed a civil government. It was the Fifth Desi Lama’s concept of a secular state. He introduced to Tibet dcostumes and uniforms for the courts, as well as robes for religious officials in the tradition of the courts of the Chinese Emperors. He was not only a spiritual leader but he also established a secular government, and undoubtedly exerting his powerful influence upon that government. His ambitions knew no bounds.

He made reforms to bind the country strongly together. He reinforced the Tibetan Buddhist connections with the most compassionate Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, also known as the “Goddess of Mercy” or “Kuan Yin” to the Chinese and the Japanese, but “Chenresig” to the Tibetans. The Goddess of Mercy had a universal appeal to the people in the Far East and is the link to indicate the possible connections with Chinese Taoism or to early Hindu Sanskrit of early Indeia. He reguilt the Potala that was believe to have been the divine palace of Avalokitesvara (Kuan Yin). The Potala was so named after a Himalayan mountain, “Lord of the World”.

The Desi Lama began building and re-establishing monasteries in remote or abandoned areas establishing the dominance of his sect throughout Tibet. In some feudal areas where the burden to the local taxes was crippling, he ordered these reduced. These acts gained him loyalty. He sent his civil servants and monks to the border towns of Kham and other areas in central Tiobet. He built the great monastery of Labrang in Kham on a prominent hilltop position to emphasize his influence. He also wrote down much of his thoughts and philosophies.

There is no doubt the Fifth Desi Lama was a great spiritual leader with ideas of an emperor. Soon after the establishment of the Qing Dynasty, the top hierarchy of the Tibetan Buddhists, the Fifth Desi Lama, the Fourth Panchen Lama, and the Mongol General Gushri Kahn who protected the Desi Lama, went as a delegation to pay their obeisance to the Mongol Emperor of China in Beijing in 1652. The Fifth Desi Lama pledged his allegiance to the Qing Emperor and in return was awarded gifts of gold and silver sufficient to build 13 new monasteries of the Yellow Sect in Tibet. The Emperor of China also confirmed that all suffessive reincdarnation of the Desi Lamas were to be legitimized by the Emperor but being suspicious of the ambitions of the Desi Lama increased the powers of the Panchen Lama, also of the Yellow sect. We observe the play of power politics even in the 17th century.

The Emperor, then officially conferred upon Lozang Gyatso the honorific title of “The Dalai Lama, Buddha of the Great Compassion in the West, Leader of the Buddhist Faith beneath the Sky, Holder of the Vajra.” So it appears that the Emperor of China conferred that title of “Dalai Lama”  on the 5th Desi Lama of Tibet in 1652/53 and has been jealously clung on to since then. [Dalai means “ocean” in the Mongol language, and Lama means the wise one or guru in Tibetan.]

The above history is to show the ties and the relationships between the Emperor of China and the religious leaders of Tibet, and how the traditions evolved despite the difficullty of the terrain and communicdations or the effectiveness of control of the different provinces from Beijing with an army or police. Yet is is because of such difficulties that the decaying governmnet of Beijing allowed the various Dalai Lamas to ursurp political ambitions and make bids for autonomy despite ancient ties and traditions. [10]

The People of Tibet and the Practice Serfdom

Much of Asia and Europe lived in a Feudal system of hierarchy  and in the 17th Century serfdom and slavery was common practice. The life of serfs was dismal and there were no laws to protect their rights. Because of the harshness of life in that period, most serfs were glad to have found shelter and food for their families from their lords and masters. In Tibet, only a handful of established warlords, retired Generals, or a few senior and influential monks and their monasteries owned all to the land, including the serfs and slaves attached to that estate. Ninety-five percent of Tibetans were serfs on these manorial estates. The serfs were treated little better than slaves. Monasteries owned large tracts of the fertile land in order to support and feed all the monks. This feudal system was similar to that in Europe in the middle ages, but lasted to the end of the 20th Century.

Serfs were under a life bond to work on the Lord’s land or the monasteries’ land without pay, to repair the Lord’s houses, transport his crops, collect his firewood, and herd his animals. All this labour provided without pay or reward. The Lords and Lamas bore no responsibilities for the welfare of the serf, nor to his survival. Serfs had to find support for themselves and provide the workforce required by the Lord or Lama. They were not permitted to strike or depart from that estate or they would be persecuted and punished. They were not provided with schooling or medical care. Their masters would instruct the serfs what crops to grow and what animals to rear and they could be separated from their families if their owner decided to lease them out to work to another estate or authority. They had to obtain the permission of their Lord or Lama before they were allowed to get married. The Lord or Lama had complete authority over their lives. Often the pretty serf girls were given domestic work as house servants and used as the master wished.

In spite of the basic tenets of Buddhism such as awareness (of sufferings), kindness and compassion and generosity, and contemplation, these virtues did not result in any better treatment of their serfs. The poverty, and the physical conditions and humiliating role of serfs within the Buddhist monasteries were no better within the monasteries than on the private estates. The Dalai Lama did not seem concerned with the welfare of the serfs who toiled to ensure the wealth and prosperity of the Lamas. Serfs served their masters from birth to death and were treated like livestock. Serfs could never be freed, and were often presented as gifts to other dignitaries or traded, sold or bartered for goods. That was exactly how slaves have been treated all over the world. If they attempted to escape, they would be flogged or even condemned to death and all their possessions taken away. Many were tortured by the primitive and cruellest methods imaginable. Rebellions occurred but when they were suppressed, their punishments were unimaginable to discourage others from following the same path. This barbarity was normal during that period of human existence, the middle ages. But in many countries, especially Tibet, the feudal serfdom continued to modern times (1959). [11]

The Influence, Wealth, Autocracy of the Tibetan Monasteries

It is essential to gain some perspective of the influence of the Dalai Lama over the Tibetan Monasteries, the wealth of the nation, the control of its people, and its political stranglehold over all Tibetans. Drepung Monastery was one of the largest landowners in the world. It owned 185 manorial estates. It owned 300 vast pastures that required 16,000 herdsmen to herd the flocks of sheep, goats, yak, horses, mules, and poultry. The manor houses needed 25,000 serfs to provide services and to maintain the estates. In perspective, it puts the Queen of England to shame, or it could be compared to the grandeur of the Emperor of China. The control and enjoyment of such wealth and luxury was in the hands of a few of the high ranking lamas. The Dalai Lama himself lived very well in a 1000 room 14 story Potala Palace. (Neither Buckingham Palace nor the White House not the Kremlin can be compared with the Potala Palace in terms of size, ornateness, or grandeur. Especially considering the hostile conditions under which these super Palaces were built.)

For comparison, a secular leader, the retired commander-in-chief of the Tibetan army, and a member of the secular ruling Cabinet headed by the Dalai Lama owned 4,000 square kilometres of land with 3,500 serfs to service the Generals requirements. Tibet had a small army that also acted as law-keepers of the land. It was the army that also maintained public order, protected the property of the landowners, and hunted down runaway serfs. [11]

Regeneration of the Buddhist Priesthood in Tibet

I have often wondered about the regeneration of the Tibetan priesthood, because I had always thought that the priests observed celibacy. Buddhist priests I have observed are always single, and the nuns too are always single and I had assumed that they practiced celibacy as in the Catholic faith. In Buddhism, in order to achieve Nirvana, one can infer that a celibate lifestyle is critical to leaving behind the world of material or emotional attachment. It is therefore necessary for monks and nuns to renounce certain human desires in their vows of devotion to their beliefs. Celibacy is but one of the two hundred and fifty three vows undertaken by the novice monks and nuns. But in Tibet, this would eventuate in the di-population of Tibet as there are predominantly more Buddhist monks and nuns than anywhere else in the world.

It is not uncommon when monks spot some young, intelligent, and curious boy from among the peasant families or the serfs, to induce or persuade their parents to allow such boys to be novice priests. Most peasants or serfs would look upon such a vocation as an honour and privilege to the family. Their son would have a good life, provided for and clothed for the rest of his life and highly respected within the community. The family would be proud for such an honour and will also be relieved of having to feed another mouth. Such chosen families would be willing participants for such a future for their sons or daughters. But, their son, once accepted as a novice monk will be bonded for his life to the monastery. Dependant upon the monasteries and the priests involved, most of these boys will have escaped a life of poverty and servitude, but will now lead a life of humility and denial, and also suffer harshness and deprivations of another kind in within the monasteries.

Monastic estates are also constantly on the look out to recruit young persons from among the peasants to serve in their monastery as soldiers, or ritual dance performers, or for their requirements as domestic help. They will entice such recruits by persuading the parents that such children will be well cared for and will be respected members of the monastery, thus persuading them to give up their children willingly. Such recruitment is not so dissimilar to that practiced by the Christian churches in medieval times. Outside of the serfs and the peasants, there was a small middle class Tibetan families who were members of the merchant class, or shopkeepers, and small traders. There were also a small number of independent farmers who subsisted on small plots of land as the free peasantry. These farmers were usually poor and struggled in that environment as independents.

Despite the vows of celibacy, there have been reports of rampant sex among abstemious monks practiced within the Gelugpa sect. It was also common for some of the senior monks to take advantage of their position and authority to share the privileges of “Wisdom Consorts” by informing the women that by sleeping with the monks, they would gain “the means to enlightenment”. These women could be nuns or lay women of the order. No doubt pregnancies often resulted in such experiences. Break of the vows of celibacy could mean that it might require several incarnations to achieve nirvana. Yet is also been said that Buddha himself reached nirvana after he had had experience of such a nature. Thus celibacy was by no means strictly observed among Buddhist monks.

The Educational System within the Monasteries in Lhasa

In order to understand the psyche of a nation, it is often revealing to examine how the nations citizens have been educated, and to what level of education. This is of special interest in the case of Old Tibet because we have such romantic visions of Tibet as the Shangri La of the universe, cut off from the hustle and bustle of the wporld of consumerism and capitalism. the reality is somewhat different.

Summarizing what has already been stated, Old Tibet was a feudal system where 90% of her population were serfs and thus were not entitled to an education. 90% of Tibetans were either illiterate or semi-literate. Education was the preserve of the elite, for the lamas or the children of the nobles of Old Tibet. Most of the education was offered through the auspices of the monasteries. This is where we will investigate. There were no public schools for the populace. One fascinating observation is the similarity of the methods of education in Old Tibet as in Hindu India, or Islamic countries. In a way, it should have been expected because much of Old Tibet’s educational system has stemmed from the Hindu system. The following daily routine is typical of the three major monasteries in Lhasa.

(1)  Beginning at 2:00 am in the morning, students assembled in ‘The Grand Hall’ of the monastery and began chanting Sutras, led by the presiding priest, repeating what he chanted. During this chanting, tea and porridge, their breakfast would be served. Those who had their own provisions of rTsam-pa (bread made of barley flour) could supplement their meal.
(2)  By 7:00 am the above class would break up into smaller groups to attend different classes, in accordance with their level of progress, to the Sutra courtyard outdoors, to listen to the mKhan-po’s teachings and instructions of the sutras. Where there were no available mKhan-pos for that particular class, the students were left to study quietly on their own.
(3)  By 9:00 am the more junior students would return to the Grand Hall to chant sutras for another hour. Students who have been there for 9 or more years, considered secondary students, could return to their Khams-tshan to continue their self-study or to have a rest. The rest of the pupils would be required to return to the open Sutra courtyard for self-study. These students were assigned individual stone seats keeping them isolated from one another to maintain order.
(4)  By 12:00 mid-day, the third class began. The chanting of sutras heralds this third class. At this time, tea and porridge is again made available with the option of the private supplementary rTsam-pa.
(5)  At around 4:00 pm, the fourth class begins with further chanting of sutras for an hour. This ends to formal class instructions.
(6)  However if there were any ceremonial activities, the students were expected to participate in such events. This could terminate around eight or nine pm.
(7)  By 9:00 pm all the monks would gather in the Grand Hall and await the order of the dGe-skos to go to their own places where they would wrap themselves in their big cloaks and lay down on their right sides in preparation for sleep. The doors of the Grand Hall will then be locked until 2:00 am when the routine repeats itself again.

Although students are divided into 5 grades, there are no examinations, or graduations or qualifications. Novices stayed until they have studied for a sufficiently long time. The main courses offered were Tantras of the three Tantric knife-deities. They also offered the Secondary Tantric knife-deities and the guardian deity. The basic textbook used as named rGyud-gzhung, 34 which are tantric Classics and also many references. Sutras, which are canonical Buddhist scriptures, were taught to all students of the monastery while Tantras were only taught to believers of Buddhism.

The system of education appears to be by repeated repetition of the Sutras. It is all learning by rote. It is an education totally concentrated on Buddhism with no evidence of the sciences or the analytical scientific processes, and so like the education in Hinduism and Islam. Hence the perception of such students is very stereotyped and sterile like the other religions mentioned.

Knowledge was mainly in the hands of the lamas as only the monks and noble classes were educated. The population could thus be easily influenced and manipulated by the Buddhist priests.  The continuation of the primitive serf practices in Old Tibet for thousands of years was mainly due to the lack of education and lack of intellectual emancipation of the people of Tibet. Tibet was trapped in the 13th Cenbtury while the world around her was surging aheade into the 21st Century with no way of breaking into or interrupting the rigidly established Tibetan Buddhist heirarchy. [12]

The Ming Dynasty’s influence on Tibet

After the obeisance paid by the 5th Desi Lama in 1652 and the conferment of his title as Dalai Lama, the Qing Dynasty were fully occupied with more pressing problems closer to home and thus neglected to exert her influence on Tibet. Civil wars, and eventually the corrupt influence of European traders to China, with the destructive corruption of the Chinese civil service by the Drug Barons from England and elsewhere led to the demise of the rule of the Emperors and their dynasties.

The East India Company’s destructive policies in China

Following Britain’s defeat of the Spanish sailing fleet and gaining dominance of the oceans, Britain sought to find new lands to expand her trade. Britain had entered the industrial age and had manufactured goods to market. Queen Elizabeth I gave a Royal Charter to a new company, The East India Company, to trade in the name of the crown for tea and spices from the Far East and to export her manufactured goods like cloth from her woollen mills. The East India Co’s first base was India.

Imperial China had always been an isolationist nation, but traded her goods from China to Africa utilizing her sailing ships. She did not allow foreign ships to trade on her soil. China, for centuries, because of her advanced civilization, always assumed that she was the most powerful nation on earth, superior to all other nations who were expected to pay tribute to her Emperor. That was the illusion propagated by Chinese mythology and everyone in China believed it. But the East India Company wanted Chinese markets but were denied again and again. But the Chinese Emperor did not realize that over the years of relative peace and comfortable living, that the fighting forces of China were ageing and inefficient. Their weaponry was obsolete. Her army was disorganized and ineffective. Her navy was no match for the European naval gun ships. And the Emperor and his government were unaware that their isolation and lack of industrial progress had left them many decades behind in terms of being a powerful and modern military nation. The East India Company was aware of their advantage and therefore pressed to force open the doors of China trade.

China had a closed door policy and forbade foreign traders in her ports. The Portuguese managed to gain a toe-hold by being given a concession in the tiny island of Macao. The British were determined to open trade with China and followed the Portuguese example by corrupting port officials in order to unload their evil narcotics.  Opium was the strategy used by the East India Company directors to maximize their profits even when it was prohibited by the Emperor of China.

A Brief History of the Opium Trade by the Mafia

(1)   1500 AD, Portuguese Sailors trading in the Far East discovered the pleasures of smoking opium.
(2)   1527 AD, opium as laudanum was used as painkillers in Europe.
(3)   1600 AD, Persians and Indian wealthy classes began eating and drinking opium mixtures for recreational purposes. Portuguese merchants carried Indian opium through Macao for trade.
(4)   1637 AD onwards, Opium had become the main commodity of the East India Company’s trade with China.
(5)   1700 AD, Dutch merchant’s ship Indian opium to China as well as to the islands of Southeast Asia, and introduce the smoking of opium in a tobacco pipe.
(6)   1729 AD, The Chinese Emperor Yung Cheng prohibits the use of opium in an edict in China with the exception for medical use.
(7)   1750 AD, the British East India Company has complete control and monopoly of Opium growing in Bengal and Bihar. British trading ships dominate the opium trade out to Calcutta to China.
(8)   1767AD, the East India Company’s export of opium into China exceeds 2,000 chests of opium per annum. [A chest of opium equals approximately 135 lbs of opium.]
(9)   1799 AD, Kia King, the Chinese Emperor places a complete ban on the opium trade in China.
(10)  1805-1816 it has been recorded that within these years, Charles Cabot from  Boston, Mass. Purchases opium from the British to smuggle under the auspices of the British into China. John Cushing, under the trade name of James and Thomas H. Perkins Company of Boston acquires his wealth from smuggling Turkish opium into Canton. John Jacob Astor of New York City joins in the opium smuggling trade under the trading name of the American Fur Company. Several other Americans were also involved. So were nationalities of many other countries.
(11) 1830, Jardine Matheson & Company of London inherited the Indian Opium trade from the British East India Company when the mandate for the East India Company’s rule of India was withdrawn and the British government took over that function.
(12) March 18, 1939 Lin Tse Hsu, the Imperial Chinese commissioner sent by the emperor to suppress the opium traffickers, ordered the surrender of all opium stores to be destroyed. This prompted the British to send expeditionary warships to China and started the First Opium War.
(13) 1841 By superiority of British Battle ships and canon power the Chinese were defeated. China had to pay a colossal indemnity, and Hong Kong was ceded to Britain. Followed with the Treaty of Nanking in 1842.
(14) 1856 British and French subdue China in the Second Opium War. More exorbitant indemnities were demanded, draining China’s coffers. The western allies then Demand that the importation of opium into China be declared legal by the Emperor.
(15) 1906 Finally Britain agrees to restrict the opium trade in China.
(16) 1910 China finally gets Britain to dismantle the India-China opium trade after all attempts to end that exploitation for the past 150 years.

The purpose of listing the Opium Trade in China is to show how China was brought to her knees by the ruthless British Drug Baron’s Avarice and it was in reality the real Jewel in the British Crown rather than India because Britains wealth was from the exploitation of China. The reparations Britain demanded of China after her fail;ed Opium Wars I and II completely drained the coffers of the Chine3se Treasury. Britain effectively raped the wealth and the Administration of China by completely and ruthlessly undermining her authority and did as Britain pleased. This fact has not yet been acknowledged even today. [13]

The Demise of Emperor Rule in China

The exploitation of the Chinese Empire from the beginning of 17th century till the beginning of the 20th Century, with the evil effects of the opium trade by the European drug barons, eventually forced the total collapse of the Qing dynasty. China was brought to her knees after 150 years of corruption and the illegally imposed opium trade. It ruined the Government, the Officials, the people, and sapped the will of the nation. At the end China was ravished with poverty, corruption, and a decaying administration. Since the end of the opium trade agreed upon with Britain, it has taken China 100 years to recover. To rid herself of foreign exploitation, and domination, China had to go through several revolutions to achieve this change.

It was necessary to rid China of the old traditions of corrupt, cronyism, and nepotism who sold out to foreign interests like the Kuo Min Tang regime. And it was therefore necessary to replace the conservative rule by the privileged families by a very extreme left wing Communist government that MaoTzeTung introduced.  Today, in the 21st Century we see the People’s Republic of China’s government drifting toward the right, toward a capitalistic type economy. The transition in China is still in progress.

Even prior to the Manchu dynasty, the Emperors enjoyed the myth of the superiority of the Chinese culture and the invincibility of the power of the Kingdom. It may have been a fact that there was no other kingdom, known to China that could have challenged the superiority of the Emperor before the 17th Century. In China’s isolation and self delusion she was not fully aware of the rapid development of the European powers since the early l7th century when the Pilgrims landed in America in 1620. Since then rapid development was occurred in Europe as the competition to exploit the new world was in full progress between Spain, Holland, France, Britain and others. The slave trade, the rivalries of ruling the oceans, and the piracy, and naval battles between these nations, meant that better and more efficient sailing ships and armoury were developed to an extent never imagined before. This was also the period of the European Industrial revolution, and new markets were needed for manufactured products. During this period of rapid industrial development in Europe, China, and other nations east of the Suez were still living in the old world of pre-15th century. European expansion of their colonial empires had begun in earnest, and it was carried out in a professional militarily fashion unlike anything before in the history of mankind. The less advanced countries in the Far East were no match for such intrusions into their culture and were overwhelmed.

It is not difficult to see that the weak and decaying rule of the Emperor was unable to extend his influence to the more remote provinces of his Kingdom like Tibet, Taiwan, Outer Mongolia, and much of far western China, and hence the erosion of his influence. The downfall of the Qing dynasty in the early 20th century allowed remote provinces to assume full control of their own states like Tibet, who were encouraged by unfriendly countries like Britain and India. It was natural for the Dalai Lama during this period to assume the grandeur of an Emperor included with his religious position. There was no authority to curb his political ambitions and he ruled unhindered in his role as head of Chinese Buddhism and that of ‘uncrowned Emperor of Tibet’. This illusion was not corrected because Beijing was too weak and ineffective to do anything about it as her rule was disintegrating in China.

In addition to the internal problems of the Beijing government, there were powerful and subversive elements working to erode the influence of China like the CIA (American) [A1], MI 6 (British), and the Indian Intelligence, including Russian interests, for their own selfish reasons. But the terrain discouraged many serious attempts to occupy Tibet by foreign nationals. Nevertheless, it gave the Dalai Lama false hopes of gaining independence from China. [14]

Tibet and The People’s Republic of China, (PRC)

In 1910, the final agreement of the British to end the unilateral imposition of the Opium trade upon China, allowed China to rid herself of the corruption and decay that had set into her society. It was the one act that the Qing dynasty managed to accomplish in her final days, to end the Opium trade. Or perhaps Britain privately realized that her nebulous narcotics trade was ethically questionable.  But it was too late for the Qing dynasty who were too badly weakened and corrupted to stand up against the revolutionary uprising of October 10th, 1911 triggered by Sun Yat Sen that eventually led to the “Chinese Nationalist People’s Party”, the Kuomintang (KMT). The KMT made an alliance with the fledgling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) In 1912 Sun Yat Sen stepped down as president in favour of ambitious Yuan Shih Kai. Yuan died in June 1916. After Sun Yat Sen’s death in 1925m one of his protégés Chiang Kai Shek took control of the KMT and controlled most of south and central China in 1927. Under the strong influence and support of the enemies of communists, Chiang turned on the Communist party and persecuted and executed many of its leaders planning to exterminate them. The communist party members were thoroughly routed, and in order to escape the bombings and canon fire, supplied from America, they escaped by the “long march” in 1934 into the desolate terrain of Shaanxi where they established a guerrilla base at Yan’an to harass the KMT. Out of the “long march” a leader evolved, Mao Zedong (Mao Tse Tung).

Despite the resolve of both these parties to fight the Japanese invasion of China 1931-45 independently of one another during those 14 years, there was bitter enmity between the KMT and the CCP. The Japanese were eventually defeated in 1945. The CCP began to gain more and more peasant support as a government of the people whilst the KMT had the support of the shrinking bourgeoisie elite. By 1945, the CCP controlled most of the country, and fearing capture, Chiang Kai Shek fled with the remnants of his KMT government and the remnants of his army to Taiwan vowing to re-conquer the mainland one day. On October 1st 1949, Mao Tse Dung proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the sole legitimate government of China.

Odd as it may seem, the KMT in its attempts to unify the remnants of their empire had already sent representatives to Tibet re-establish the KMT authority there. Hence Tibet was under the influence of the KMT at that point in time. Supporting the KMT were many British and American agents who were located in Lhasa advising the Tibetan government to resist any control from the CCP in Beijing. Just to name those involved in the Tibetan intrigues were Lowell Thomas, commentator with the Columbia Radio Station of America, Hugh Richardson, and Reginald Fox were observers for Britain, even the US secretary of state Dean Acheson was implicated in pro-Tibet independence bias. Acheson had sent a cable to the American Embassy in India saying, “Washington wishes to see Tibet’s military resistance capability secretly beefed up”. What is certain is that the CIA and MI 6 were there in an effort to undermine the PRC’s control of Tibet. The PRC were determined to remove the KMT and foreign influence on their back garden.

As Tibet, was theoretically still under the jurisdiction of the Kuomintang (KMT), it was the PRC’s immediate duty to relieve Tibet from the KMT. Hence, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) set about to enter Lhasa in 1951 despite obstacles placed in the way to prevent easy access, liberating Tibet from the KMT and foreign agencies based there. The first step was to expel the KMT office of “The Tibet Office of the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs” in July. All the other foreign representatives were also expelled. Tibet was liberated from the KMT and back into the fold of the PRC. [15]

With 40,000 PLA troops ready to enter Lhasa, the 14th Dalai Lama sent a delegation to Beijing to discuss an agreement that would be acceptable for the peaceful reunification of Tibet into the PRC. This document affirmed the Chinese sovereignty over Tibet and was signed and sealed on the 23rd of May 1951 and known as The Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. A copy follows:

The Seventeen point agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet

“Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. Signed and sealed in Beijing on 23 May 1951. The preamble to the agreement stressed that Tibet had a “long history within the boundaries of China,” outlined the aggressive imperialist forces in Tibet that needed to be “successfully eliminated” and claimed that both parties (Tibetans and Chinese People’s Government – CPG) had, as a result of talks, agreed to “establish the agreement and ensure that it be carried into effect.”

1.     The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet; the Tibetan people shall return to the big family of the Motherland  the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
2.     The local government of Tibet shall actively assist the PLA to enter Tibet and consolidate the national defences.
3.     In accordance with the policy towards nationalities laid down in the Common Programme of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, the Tibetan people have the right of exercising national regional autonomy under the unified leadership of the CPG.
4.     The central authorities will not alter the existing political system in Tibet. The central authorities also will not alter the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama. Officials of various ranks shall hold office as usual.
5.     The established status, functions and powers of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni shall be maintained.
6.     By the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama and of the Panchen Ngoerhtehni are meant the status, functions and powers of the thirteenth Dalai Lama and the ninth Panchen Ngoerhtehni when they had friendly and amicable relations with each other.
7.     The policy of freedom of religious belief laid down in the common programme of the CPPCC shall be carried out. The religious beliefs, customs and habits of the Tibetan people shall be respected and lama monasteries shall be protected. The central authorities will not effect a change in the income of the monasteries.
8.     Tibetan troops shall be reorganised step by step into the PLA and become a part of the defence force of the PRC.
9.     The spoken and written language and school education of the Tibetan nationality shall be developed step by step in accordance with the actual conditions in Tibet.
10. Tibetan agriculture, livestock raising, industry and commerce shall be developed step by step and the people’s livelihood shall be improved step by step in accordance with the actual conditions in Tibet.
11. In matters relating to various reforms in Tibet, there will be no compulsion on the part of the central authorities. The local government of Tibet shall carry out reforms of its own accord, and, when the people raise demands for reform, they shall be settled by means of consultation with the leading personnel of Tibet.
12. In so far as former pro-imperialists and pro-Kuomintang [Guomindang] officials resolutely sever relations with imperialism and the Kuomintang [Guomindang] and do not engage in sabotage or resistance, they may continue to hold office irrespective of their past.
13. The PLA entering Tibet shall abide by all the above-mentioned policies and shall also be fair in all buying and selling and shall not arbitrarily take a needle or thread from the people.
14. The CPG shall have centralised handling of all external affairs of the area of Tibet; and there will be peaceful co-existence with neighbouring countries and establishment and development of fair commercial and trading relations with them on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect for territory and sovereignty.
15. In order to ensure the implementation of this agreement, the CPG shall set up a Military and Administrative Committee and a Military Area HQ in Tibet and – apart from the personnel sent there by the CPG – shall absorb as many local Tibetan personnel as possible to take part in the work. Local Tibetan personnel taking part in the Military and Administrative Committee may include patriotic elements from the local government of Tibet, various districts and various principal monasteries; the name list shall be set forth after consultation between the representatives designated by the CPG and various quarters concerned and shall be submitted to the CPG for appointment.
16. Funds needed by the military and Administrative Committee, the Military Area HQ and the PLA entering Tibet shall be provided by the CPG. The local government of Tibet should assist the PLA in the purchase and transport of food, fodder and other daily necessities.
17. This agreement shall come into force immediately after signature and seals are affixed to it.

Signed and sealed by the delegates of the CPG with full powers by Chief Delegate Li Weihan (Chairman of the Commission of Nationalities Affairs) and three delegates. Delegates with full powers of the local government of Tibet by Chief Delegate Kaloon Ngabou Ngawang Jigme (Ngabo Shape) and four delegates. “ [16]

This document ensured the integrity of the Buddhist hierarchy, the monasteries, and the religion of Buddhism. It granted the PRC the responsibilities of defense and the external politics of Tibet in keeping with the status of a province within China. In other words Tibet was to have the role of a dependent state. The 14th Dalai Lama wanted to have a fully autonomous and independent status for Tibet. So there was a stalemate on the status of Tibet. On after thought, the Dalai Lama was not happy with the agreement and his supporters fomented unrest among the people. By 1956 fierce Tibetan resistance began to appear with stronger repression exercised by the PLA troops, no doubt tacitly support by the monks and outside supporters of the Dalai Lama.

As a show of strength, the PLA, Tan Guansan the Chinese Representative in Tibet invited the Dalai Lama to visit the PLA’s military camp to observe a parade. Unable to refuse, a rumor was started that this invitation was a pretext to lure the Dalai Lama in order to kidnap him. This triggered a massive demonstration of thousands of people to stop the Dalai Lama from going to the PLA camp. This broke out into riots that rapidly expanded into a national uprising. The PLA sent in the troops to restore order and thousands were killed before order was restored. The Dalai Lama took advantage of the upheaval and confusion and slipped out of Tibet on 17th March, 1959. He was given asylum in India and in his press conference refuted the 17-Point Agreement. Six days later, on 23rd March, 1959 the flag of the PRC was hoisted over the Potala Palace.

The 14th Dalai Lama was not prepared to accept the role of the Spiritual Leader of the China’s Buddhists, without the trimmings of also being Tibet’s Political Leader, i.e. full autonomy of an Independent nation within the borders of the Chinese State. Of course this would have been an impossible situation for the PRC to accept because it would have set the precedence for Taiwan. It was a dead issue that the Dalai Lama could not appreciate.

So was it the pride of a Dalai Lama that has caused him to forsake his Tibetan people their spiritual leader? He would have been the most powerful religious leader in the world if he had achieved his aims. Not unless he is prepared to compromise, he will have lost everything, and Tibetan Buddhism will revert to India from whence it evolved.

The Dalai Lama’s 5 Point Peace Plan
On 21st September, 1987, 36 years after after the 17-point peace plan the Dalai Lama addresses the US Congress with his proposal of a 5-Point Peace Plan for Tibet. Essentially stating:

“This peace plan contains five basic components:

1. Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace;
2. Abandonment of China’s population transfer policy which threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a people;
3. Respect for the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms;
4. Restoration and protection of Tibet’s natural environment and the abandonment of China’s use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste;
5. Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. “ [17]

Item 5 means to renegotiate a new agreement on the status of Tibet from scratch. Even as a layman I cannot see that this would even induce the PRC to start a new negotiated status for Tibet. Time is not on the Dalai Lamas side. If he continues to remain immovable, he will die a self imposed exile and the influence of an independent Dalai Lama will fade into the history books.

Tibet Under the People’s Republic of China

Despite the fact that the head lama, the Dalai Lama, of Tibet chose to go into voluntary exile the government of the PRC proceeded with the 17-Point plan that had been signed by both parties. The Tibet Autonomous Region, TAR, was formed in 1965, and the deputies of the Tibetan People’s congress, at all levels in Tibet were made up of 90% ethnic Tibetans. Tibetans also account of 74.9% of the local cadres in Tibet. 19 Deputies from Tibet are represented in the highest legislature of China in the National People’s Congress. Ethnic Tibetans are fully represented at all levels of Tibetan as well as at the National level of government.

One of the most significant accomplishments of the PRC in Tibet after 1959 Tibetan revolt that was staged by the monks to create havoc was the establishment of the rule from Beijing. With this authority, the PRC abolished slavery and the primitive serfdom system in Tibet. The PRC removed the ancient but crushing taxes in the Tibetan system that kept serfs tied to their masters for life. The new government started many modernizing projects to provide employment for the released serfs and slaves in order to reduce unemployment and begging. Many of the projects included schemes like road and bridge building, the Tibetan railway, schools, running water, and electrical supply networks.

Another major project was to establish secular schools breaking the monopoly of the monasteries as the only source of education. Now education was open to all.  The Army began setting up a number of primary schools in Qamdo, Bome, and Nyingchi, and later in Lhasa. The Lhasa’s No1 Primary School was established in August, 1952 catering to the Tibetan teaching and administrative staff with almost 2000 students.

By the end of 1998, Tibet boasted 926 schools of various kinds and 3,314 teaching centers. Tibet has plans to integrate the educational system to all levels as the system progresses. Tibet also has 4 institutions of higher learning and 16 vocational schools and a Medical school.

Other tangible improvements made since the liberation of Tibet include;

(1)  The Qinghai-Tibet Railway that will attract tourists to Tibet
(2)  The first large hospital built in 1985
(3)  The first Tibetan University graduate in 1988
(4)  The GDP of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) today is 30 times that before 1950. And Tibet has the second highest wages in China.
(5)  The TAR today has 22,500 km of highways compared to none in 1950.
(6)  Tar has created secular education since 1959, and has 25 scientific research institutes and non before 1959.
(7)  Infant mortality has dropped from 43% in 1950 to 0.66% in 2000.
(8)  Life expectancy has risen from 35.5 years in 1950 to 67 in 2000.
(9)  Allocation of 300 million Renminbi since 1980 for the maintenance and preservation of Tibetan monasteries.

All this has happened in the last 2 generations. Tibet will be unrecognizable in another 2 generations as the serfs and their children replace their forefathers. The level of education, with the introduc5tion of 5the dual language option will allow greater freedoms to the ordinary Tibetans for the coming centuries.

With the emancipation of the ordinary Tibetan from serfdom, the introduction of secular education available to all, and the dual language, but ensuring the preservation of the Tibetan culture and traditions, it is a win win formula for the People’s Republic of China. If the Dalai Lama stubbornly refuses to compromist and return to Tibet, his influence as the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists will wane. Tibet will be a different country without the old traditional Dalai Lama in the future. [18]

I began this article in the very early days of Google Knol and was not familiar with the capabilities of the word processor and so left out references that were the cause of the ambiguities of this article. As a result Bruno Streb  raised many questions and caste doubts of the accuracy of the information. I have attempted to explain to him that there are always two sides of a coin in history and since his sympathies lie with the Dalai Lama, but I have attempted to be impartial. I am, however, open to any evidence that can prove my facts are inaccurate and will edit my article to incorporate any such new evidence. As a consequence of Bruno Streb’s request I have read other author’s writings, like Melvin C. Goldstein and others, and I will highlight some of the reviews to show the their views.

First, I refer to Michael Parenti’s article, ”Friendly Feudalism: The Myth of Tibet.”(copyright *) [19] [11]

[The article has illustrated that Tibet was far from being an idyllic Shangri-la existing in peace and harmony, but that it was a repressive, theist, feudalistic, cruel and uncaring autocracy that kept 97% of her citizens as bonded serfs and slaves to serve the aristocracy and the Monastery hierarchy. The whole article can be read here:

http://www.swans.com/library/art9/mparen01.html  [19]

The link will also provide many further references to other sources.]

Michael Parenti is an internationally known author and lecturer. He is one of the nation’s leading progressive political analysts. Parenti received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University in 1962. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, in the United States and abroad.

Next, I would like to refer you to the following graphic article about the views of a Tibetan serf recorded in March, 2008.

24 Year Old Runaway Serf Welcomed Chinese ‘LIBERATION’ Posted by: Rayelan Date: Tuesday, 18 March, 2008.

“One 24-year old runaway welcomed the Chinese intervention as ”liberation.” He claimed that under (Tibetan) serfdom he was subject to incessant toil, hunger, and cold. After his third failed escape, he was mercilessly beaten by the landlord’s men until blood poured from his nose and mouth. They then poured alcohol and caustic soda on his wounds to increase the pain.”  [20]

Reviews & Highlighting Reviews of other books

To illustrate further the Tibetan feudalism we will review the book reviews of 4 books, and highlight the comments of 8 readers. The corroboration of all these views is of course different to that espoused by the Dalai Lama and his supporters because of their biased views. Aided with finance and technical assistance from the powerful CIA, the exiled Tibetan’s propaganda machinery has had a profound influence on international views. This Knol hopes to balance some of these views and to illustrate alternative viewpoint.

[Bold highlights are this author’s highlights, and (text) are inserts my this author.]

A History of Modern Tibet, 19133-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State by Melvin C. Goldstein June 18, 1991


Romantic visions of Shangri-La are shattered by this book., June 30, 1998
By milfount@netonecom.net

If you have cherished the illusion that Tibet was populated only by saints and holy men of impeccable judgment, then the stories recounted in this history will demolish any such belief.
Instead, you will develop a realistic appreciation for the achievements and handicaps of the Tibetan system in the first half of this century. This book will enable you to understand why Tibet could not remain independent from China. This is a troubling, fascinating book, full of invaluable historical detail which can be found nowhere else. It is only for those who like their truths unvarnished. Those with a genuine love of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism will develop a matured love of this extraordinary culture, and those whose notions of the country are based on legends of Shangri-La and Madame Blavatsky’s “Great White Brotherhood” will never see Tibet the same way again.

Behind the curtain, August 29, 2008
By Charles S. Fisher (Woodacre, CA, USA)

Thank you Prof. Goldstein. An excerpted version of this book ought to be required reading for every Western follower of some Tibetan Lama. To puncture the fantasies of devotees would be a service not only to those who believe in guru yoga but to the Tibetan Govwernment in Exile whose moral authority would be enhanced by acknowledging historical truth rather than spreading increasingly transparent propaganda.

[This sentence should be read and re-read as this is the main problem/disillusionment that the exiled Tibetans and their sympathizers suffer from. Unsubstantiated Propaganda!]

Where to begin(?) This book is both a hidden gem and an eye opener. Though I have been trying to find out about Tibetan history for a long time now, I only just came across the first of Prof. Goldstein’s two volumes and am now voraciously consuming the second. When in around 1944 the dobdo (fighting or punk, like street punk) monks of Sera Che college of the great Sera monastery (one of the three ruling monasteries of the current Dalai Lama’s Gelugpa sect) threatened to kidnap and sexually molest the students of a recently opened English language school in Lhasa because its modern ways might corrupt the only Buddhist theocracy in the world, they were making a statement about the realities of Tibetan life. The school had been opened by the Regent as one of many feeble attempts to create the skills Tibet might need to meet the challenge of the changing world around them. The gentry quickly withdrew their sons, and the school was closed putting another nail in the coffin of Tibetan preparedness. In the 20th century, if it wasn’t the British invading (or the CIA stirring up revolt, or Russians or Indian expansionists) or slicing off trans-Himalayan pieces of Tibet, it was the Chinese ruling mixed Chinese/Tibetan regions of Eastern or greater (or inner) Tibet claiming suzerainty over it all. And even Eastern areas like Kham had little more loyalty to Lhasa (which exploited and abused them) than to China. They spoke different dialects (and we aren’t really informed whether they are racially different but they were indigenous peoples in Tibet who were not so enamored of what they felt were invading Lamistic Buddhists.)

Little have my Tibetan-Buddhist-following friends (Gelugpa supporters) told me of the corporal punishment so continuously applied to common offenders (serfs & slaves) and people regarded as treasonous by one or another faction. Capital punishment was carried on even though it had been banned by the 13th Dalai Lama in 1898. The last secular leader who attempted real reform before the Chinese take over, had his eyes put (gouged) out for his efforts and the first Regent for the current Dalai Lama was poisoned in prison by his successor, (supposedly) a very holy man.

The one Tibetan reviewer on Amazon of this book accuses Goldstein of being a Chinese propagandist. Goldstein may come to conclusions that both current and past Chinese claimants to suzerainty over Tibet might embrace. That doesn’t invalidate his attempts to portray Tibetan history as best as he can. Goldstein had groundbreaking access to historical records and added to that invaluable interviews with some of the participants in the events (though the government in exile has withheld documents–unlike the Israelis who have had the courage to allow historians access to documents revealing some of their shameful behavior in the wake of 1948 “Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001”. His (Dalai Lama’s) interviews break through what might otherwise be a history distorting solidarity with the government in exile. Because his co-respondents thought he possessed the diaries of one of the main actors in the 1930s to 50s, and would be able to catch them out in misstatements, they shared what otherwise was to be protected for political reasons. I used such a technique to great effect when doing interviews years ago with secretive scientists. When they got the sense I knew much more than I was saying, they would fess up about things they otherwise left out or glossed over. Having been the recipient of such tactics on the part of the FBI, I understand their effectiveness. Thank you Prof. Goldstein for prying a layer deeper.

If I have one reservation about the book it is that there are too many primary documents in it. I know that much of what he is presenting is new material and by making the documents available to historians for the first time, Prof. Goldstein is doing a great scholarly service.But for the non-specialist reader, it is a chore to wade through the long excerpts for the pithy sentences which summarize the historical importance of the document. Literarily, I wish he had written a much more narrative book and left the documents for a scholarly compendium. This would have made the book much more accessible and brought it the wider audience it deserves. Such a volume would more usefully aid in an understanding of how Tibet, her current population, her Chinese overlords and her exile claimants fit into the world.
Whether Prof. Goldstein’s thesis that reactionary monastic religious elements, for their own sectarian self interest (including monastic revenues–in the 1940s fighting monks brutally murdered a revenue agent who suspended their tax collection because of a poor harvest), prevented Tibet from changing so as to meet the challenge of the outside world is correct or not, he has made a good case for it. In the 1920s the 13th Dalai Lama turned away from modernization because of monastic opposition. His somewhat modernized army was allowed to deteriorate (although there was justifiable fear it would exert political influence). In the crucial period of WWII, factions fought each other. The government often dithered, sticking its head in the sand. It delayed and sometimes did not respond, hoping things would go away.

They continued such behavior even though it had led to the 1904 British invasion (by) Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer. Flight to Mongolia, India or China was a major strategy employed by Panchen and Dalai Lamas. Although Tibet was much less isolated than Sikkim or Bhutan, very few Tibetans with power wanted to know about the outside world. Reactionaries would not let the young be trained in foreign languages (isolation) so crucial to defense. There was opposition to the installation of two way radios, and a landing strip near Lhasa was forbidden. A Tibetan Burma road was stalled. The government and ruling lamas consulted oracles to make decisions (and accused each other or rigging the results). Despite the fact that Lhasa had not been able to vet a Chinese chosen Panchen Lama (a prerogative they insisted was theirs), their oracles conveniently confirmed him when it was clear the Chinese would punish Tibet if Lhasa refused (so much for vaunted transcendent Buddhist/political rule). There were many religious and regional factions who felt that Tibet would be better off under the Chinese than letting British (or American, or Indian, or Russian, or Pakistan) influence creep in and challenge entrenched power or ways of life. The first Regent of the current Dalai Lama appealed for support from China for his attempt to regain the Regency.
It is incumbent upon those whose political interests are threatened by the thesis to show Professor Goldstein wrong. According to Alex McKay, no one has yet to even dented it “History of Tibet “(Curson in Association with Iias,9).

For the (really) serious reader of Tibet read:
History of Tibet (Curzon in Association With Iias, 9) (Hardcover)
by Alex McKay (Author) [21]

Current exiled Tibetans and their Western followers (sympathizers) are still hawking the ideologies the great monasteries used to justify their continued power. Tibet, they claim, has unique conjoined Buddhism and politics into a higher moral synthesis. While the ideas swirling around the Dalai Lama are certainly inspiring and goals toward which to aspire, it would be refreshing if those same proponents would acknowledge the realities of Tibetan history and show they have intruded in current situation in both positive and negative ways. That commitment to the truth might or might help their cause but it would align them with the higher morality they claim. As Thomas Becket in T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” says, “…and striving with political men may make that cause political.” And political the situation is whether just the same old thing in monks robes or worldly action held to a higher standard, Prof. Goldstein’s book helps illuminate. It may be that, as a small country surrounded by empires (China, Britain, Russia, India, Pakistan,) Tibet would have succumbed no matter what it had done. But as Tito, Vietnam, Cuba, Spain, Israel, Iran and others have shown, if you are willing to prepare and resist, you may have a chance to preserve your way of life. In the cast of Tibet, as Prof. Goldstein has shown, it was the way of life which put the country at risk.

[Source of reviews of “History of Modern Tibet 1913-1951 [22]]

A History of Modern Tibet, volume 2: The Calm before the Storm: 1951-1955 (Philip E. Lilienthal Books) (Paperback)
by Melvyn C. Goldstein

Excellent, exciting, but over-stuffed, December 3, 2008

By C.M.Clarke (near Washington)

Like his first volume on the history of Tibet, Dr. Goldstein has written the definitive account of the period from 1951-1955. Based on incredibly extensive research–including his own interviews with many of the major protagonists and primary documents in English, Tibetan, and Chinese–Goldstein has painted a fascinating and counter-intuitive account of the first few years after China’s “liberation” of Tibet. Even for those steeped in Chinese politics, this account will provide surprises, insights, and anecdotes of great value. Mao’s role as the principal proponent and defender of the gradual reform of Tibet is almost surreal in view of his later actions and his role in the Cultural Revolution. The impact of internal party conflicts–such as between the Northwest and Southwest armies and the role of Sichuan party secretary Li Jingquan–provide a new level of explanation for the 1959 revolt. Such documentation as the transcripts of conversations between Mao and the Panchen Lama and between Zhou Enlai and Li Jingquan are priceless. The anecdote about Zhou diveting to Chengdu tto greet the Dalai Lama on the way back to Tibet shows Zhou’s prototypically astute attention to detail and political sensitivity. Although I anxiously await the next volume, I hope Dr. Goldstein and his editor will choose to relegate some of the lengthy primary material to appendices or footnotes. At times, its volume gets in the way of, rather than elucidating, the fascinating story.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Serial Mystery, September 8, 2008
By Charles S. Fisher (Woodcare, CA USA)

This review is from: A History of Modern Tibet, volume 2: The Calm before the Storm: 1951-1955 (Philip E. Lilienthal books)

I feel like I have been reading a mystery story. I have the first part of the mystery in Goldstein’s first vorume and in the second we are shown the honeymoon between the Chinese and the Tibetans after China coerced Tibet into union. We know the eventual outcome (because we have been beaten over the head with the final chapters of the who-done-it) in Chinese repression, but the period between ’51 and ’55 seems like an idyll of occupation completely out of spirit with most modern conquests and what is known of later Chinese history such as the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese, as occupiers, were positive gentle towards the Tibetans, and Mao’s overruling hardliners is so out of character of what we know of the later Mao, it is hard to believe.

What an odd historical period. By invading eastern Tibet the Chinese forced the Lhasa to accede to being gently occupied and the Dalai Lama (using the exile gambit like his predecessors) returns. The Chinese arrive with overwhelming troops and the Tibetan old guard, refusing to acknowledge their defeat, constantly insult and resist them. Mao insists that the occupiers (PLA) swallow it without withdrawing. His strategy is to take as long as needed to win over reactionary Tibetans to change, leaving in place Tibetan feudalism (remember this is revolutionary China) until change can come about without resistance. From where we now stand this looked like a completely cynical policy, but it wasn’t in 1955. The Dalai Lama (19 years old) is almost completely won over on his trip to China (except, despite the fact the occupiers in Tibet gave both money to and placated the monasteries, being upset by Mao’s one reference to religion being a poison, so much so, that Mao has to constantly hold him back from changes the Dalai Lama might have wanted to make. In fact, on returning to Tibet, the monasteries and gentry stopped the integration of the Tibetan currency into China’s and the elimination of Tibetan currency. For all this vaunted god-king, living Buddha status the 14th Dalai Lama, like his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama, is more a prisoner of the monasteries (Senior Monks) and the aristocracy than their leader. That is how this volume is left. We can see the roots of resistance growing (encouraged, financed, and trained by the CIA), but their soil is more reactionary traditional Tibet rather than the result of being exploited or abused by their Chinese conquerors.

The exception, of course, is seen only peripherally in the ethnically Tibetan parts of China and in occupied Kham where the changes which China is making to China effect the Chinese Tibetans. It would have been nice if Goldstein would have said more about these goings on. But then I assume was saving that for his third volume leading up to the 1959 uprising, whose appearance is awaited. The only criticism I have of this book is that, like volume one, there is too much primary material included which the Author could have summarized making the narrative read more smoothly.

Despite this Goldstein has done us a great service.

[Source of Reviews of History of Modern Tibet 1951-1955 [23]

Bear in mind that the following book was approved by the Dalai Lama who wrote the foreword.

Buddha’s Warriors: The Story of the CIA-Backed Tibetan Freedom Fighters, the Chinese Communist Invasion, and the Ultimate Fall of Tibet (Hardcover)
by Mikel Dunham (Author), Dalai Lama (author) “The year was 1947, though not in the small mountainous kingdom of Derge…”

Finally! The story is told, and told well, Jan 26, 2005 by Nathaniel (Town, Montana)

“Buddha’s Warriors” is a story that needed desperately to be told-what it took to turn thousands of non-violent Tibetan Buddhists into an armed rebellion, and how the CIA left them high and dry (typical) – and Dunham tells it with expertise and flair. Somehow he has gathered an incredible roster of primary sources (including American insiders,) and he wields them like a knife against the history of Chinese oppression and U.S. cowardice (but read discerningly, it backfires.)

Dunham has a knack of putting together the pieces of this somewhat obscure tale – just try to find it in history books – and making it coherent, exciting. Few people seem to know how China’s invasion drove so many dedicated pacifists to violent means (egged on by CIA subtefuge.) Even the Dalai Lama, who for so long has refused even to acknowledge violence as a viable method, gives these Khampa warriors their due respect (hypocrite) in the book’s foreword. That’s quite something.

Dunham has done a great service to written history by phblishing this book. But it’s not hard work to red, like so many histories these days. Those who do not follow Tibet’s latest struggle will surely enjoy it all the same, and those who regard the struggle with a certain degree of frustration and disbelief “how can they not fight?!” will be infused with a good healthy dose of vindication and righteous anger.
Happy reading.

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
The story finally told, and told well., January 3, 2005
By      M. Miller
Buddha’s Warriors is an important book. It’s also compelling, not to 
mention extremely well researched and well written. It is essential 
reading for anyone interested in Tibet, both historically and in the
context of its present suffering. It is essential reading for anyone
interested in Tibetan Buddhism, as it clarifies a lot of 
misunderstanding about Buddhism as a “passive” culture or philosophy. 
This is a story that may be known, but not widely, and it needed to be 
Mikel Dunham has spent years compiling a wealth of information as 
material for this book, and this research was largely gleaned from 
extraordinary interviews with individuals who needed to trust the 
author long before they would speak with him, let alone give him their 
stories. Long before this story was written, Dunham obviously became 
extremely close to his subject, and that intimacy, both with the 
people and the story, raises the quality far beyond a traditional 
academic treatise. You will feel that on every page. Buy it. Don’t 
leave it on your coffee table. Read it.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
An exciting read with plenty of historical detail, February 18, 2007
By W. Osterberg (Cleveland, OH, USA)

I have read several books on  the history of Tibet in the 20th century and this is certainly the most exciting of them all. It is a valuable telling of the story of Tibet’s invasion by China (?) from the perspective of those that witnessed it first hand and fought against it with the help of the CIA.[A1] (Thus it represents only the views of the Tibetan rebels or exiles of Tibet.) It also has an extremely good list of references and painstakingly covers the historical literature of this period, providing a good starting point for readers who want more (biased views.) My only gripe with the book is that it relies heavily on input from fromer CIA operatives (CIA views expressed.) Although it is not clear to me whether this has skewed the picture that is presented (of course it has), it is unfortunate fact that the involvement of the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies has provided the Chinese (a legitimate) excuse to view Western interest in the Tibetan cause with suspicion. So I have a bit of difficulty viewing the CCIA as heroic (the penny has dropped) although (similarly the Dalai Lama) I have o doubt that there was genuine support for the Tibetans by some CIA people. Another interesting aspect of this book is that it portrays the taking up of arms by the Tibetans as a positive development, (spurred on by the CIA intrigues,) contrasting with the nonviolent stance currently taken by the Tibetan government in exile (hypocrisy.) But that is a different topic; one that the author deals with to some extent.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Tibet’s unknown times, November 9, 2006
By Vijay Crishna (Mumbai, India)

An excellent and fast-paced account of operations we now learn about – 46 years later! It’s old from the point of view of the CIA ‘minders of the projects.’ I’m sure the actual operatives had their own point of view, and it’s exciting stuff!! It’s a tragedy that all the governments who could have had a sy in Tibet’s future at that time –India, Britain, and the US – chose to stay resolutely uncommitted (in fact they were all complicit in the plot by silent conspirators.) This is the tale of those who decided to try and do something, and failed finally – but not for wat of trying. Something to learn for many of us.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Beautifully written work of journalism, December 30, 2004
By Ashley Shelby (Minneapolis)

China has, for decades, been trying to get the world to believe that the Tibetans bowed down before the Chinese invaders in the 1950’s and were gratefully “repatriated” to the motherland. Not so. Mikel Dunham showed me, in amazing prose and impeccable scholarship and journalism, that the Tibetans were fighters (not peaceable Buddhists), even those Buddhist monks among their ranks. All the people Dunham profiled came alive for me, including the hard-ass CIA agents who trained some of the Tibetan resistance fighters (CIA subterfuge in an autonomous independent nation.) The book is also chock full of photographs and documents and has maps, along with some incredible beautiful Tibetan artwork. Definitely a worthy addition to any personal library.

[Source of Reviews of Buddha’s Warriors [24]]

The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet
by Kenneth Conboy (Author), James Morrison(Author)

“Even after stripping away centuries of myth and cliché, Tibet still invites hyperbole…”

Defiance against Chinese oppression has been a defining characteristic of Tibetan life for more than four decades, symbolized most visibly by the much revered Dalai Lama. But the story of Tibetan resistance weaves a far richer tapestry than anyone might have imagined.

Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison reveal how America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) encouraged (trained and paid) Tibet’s revolt against China—and eventually came to control its fledgling resistance movement. They provide the first comprehensive, as well as most compelling account of this little known agency enterprise (espionage).
The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet takes readers from training camps in the Colorado Rockies to the scene of clandestine operations in the Himalayas, chronicling the agency’s help in securing the Dalai Lama’s safe passage to India (CIA planned) and subsequent initiation of one of the most remote “covert” campaigns of the Cold War. Conboy and Morrison provide previously unreported details about secret missions undertaken in extraordinarily harsh conditions. Their book greatly expands on previous memoirs by CIA officials by putting virtually every major agency participant on record with details of clandestine operations. It also calls as witnesses the people who managed and fought in the program—including Tibetan and Nepalese agents, Indian intelligence officers, and even mission aircrews.

Conboy and Morrison take pains to tell the story from all perspectives, particularly that of the former Tibetan guerrillas, many of whom have gone on record here for the first time. The authors also tell how Tibet led America and India to become secret partners over the course of several presidential administrations and cite dozens of Indian and Tibetan intelligence documents directly related to these covert operations.

As the movement for Tibetan liberation continues to attract international support, Tibet’s status remains a contentious issue in both Washington and Beijing. This book takes readers inside a covert war fought with Tibetan blood and U.S. sponsorship and allows us to better understand the true nature of that controversy.
[Review of CIA’s Secret War in Tibet: [25]

When Serfs Stood up in Tibet by Anna Louise Strong [26]

The lively and realistic accounts of what Anna Louise Strong saw and reported on is truly a revelation that dispels all the propaganda that has been expressed against the Liberation of Feudal Tibet by the People’s republic of China. Here are some brief accounts.
An old song once sung by the Tibetan  serfs points to the reason.

If these two hands belonged to me,
I could pluck the moon out of the sky;
If these two hand shook off their chains,
I could turn Tibet into a heaven on earth.

The pathos in that verse is most touching and sad, but well expressed. What the western world saw of Tibet was benign yellow robed monks dressed in fancy clothes, and a softly spoken Dalai Lama who only preached peace and harmony in his Gelug sect of Buddhism. A Shangri-la of peaceful religious monastic life of living in harmony with nature in an unspoiled part  of the world. But the western world could never suspect that the tranquil life of those Buddhist monks was supported by the toil and sufferings of thousands of serfs and slaves that kept those priests living in a comparative life of luxury. For over a 1,000 years, the Tibetan land owning aristocrats and Buddhist monks kept 95% to 97% of the Tibetan population in subjugation as serfs or slaves in order to support the monumental lavish monasteries with their organisations, and the aristocratic families of Tibet. For the Tibetan aristocrats,  and the high ranking Tibetan monks, who were the serf owning classes, it was a Shangri-la, but for the rest of the population, 97% of Tibet, the serfdom and slavery they endured was more primitive, more brutal, more savage than anything experienced in the Middle Ages in Europe, and for them it made “Tibet a Hell on Earth.”

For centuries, the ruling classes of Tibet, which was made up of the high ranking monks of the Gelug sect, with the Dalai Lama as the head of the establishment, ruled with an iron fist and kept Tibet in strict control that ensured their totalitarian control of Tibet. But this also ensured the lack of freedom, the lack of initiative, the lack of innovation, and the lack of all the stimuli for progress. Tibet was trapped into the medieval era. This stagnated Tibet, and ensured its decline. Tibet, far from being a Shangri-la was in fact in a state of impoverishment, stagnation, and severe decline. The sufferings of the serfs was inhuman and documented throughout this article. An the fault of this was that Tibetan Buddhism was too inward looking and could not unshackle the bonds of religious dogma and 7th century ideologies and Tibetan social customs. The main reason for this is, of course, the gross illiteracy of the Tibetan people.

Even after the peaceful liberation in 1951, a major problem remained because Tibetan local government and local political power was still in the hands of the self-owning classes loyal to the concepts of the old regime of the Dalai Lama and therefore were reactionary and rebellious. Helped by the CIA, the armed rebellion of the Dalai Lama’s clique had to be put down and resentments repelled in 1959. Following this, a million Tibetan serfs and slaves “smashed their chains, and for the first time received land, and became masters of the country and taking political power into their own hands.”

As Anna Louise Strong travelled through Tibet, her party often heard liberated serfs say, “We are the masters of new Tibet! We smashed the old system with our hands and will build a new world with them too!”   [8]

Today, 60% of the 27,000 cadres who now take part in managing Tibetan affairs are Tibetan or some other minority group. Half of the secretaries of the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Party committees are Tibetan. Many of these liberated serfs and slaves have come to political maturity following their long years of suffering and subjugation. There is no question of these liberated Tibetans to allow Tibet to revert to the past. These young cadres will foster the Tibetan traditions and culture but without the return of the old feudal system. They will be the core founders of the new Tibet of the future.

Changes seen by Anna Louise Strong

Today there are 250 new factories and mines, producing matches, coal, metals, chemicals, machinery, electricity, lumber, building materials, textiles and light industrial goods and employs 70,000 people, most where Tibetans. For the first time tibet grew sufficient grain for herself in 1974 and in 1975 Tibets harvest was 2.7 times that in 1958 the year before the reform. Today tractors and threshers have replaced the animal drawn wooden plough. Not only is Tibet growing barley, she is has successfully grown wheat.

Farm management and rotation of crops has been introduced. Better animal husbandry has increased livestock numbers and in 1975 produced 2.3 times more than in 1958.
Before 1958, there were no highways in Tibet, today there is a 15,800 km network connecting Lhasa to Szechuan, Chinghai, Sinkiang and Yunnan. There are also two civil aviation routes that link Lhasa to Peking and the rest of the world. A railway also has linked Lhasa with the rest of China.

In old Tibet, educational facilities were not available to serfs and slaves. Education was the preserve of the serf owning aristocracy and to Buddhist monks provided by two official and a few private schools, and of course the monastic schools for the training of monks. So illiteracy was rampant and commonplace among the serfs and slaves. But today, there are 4,300 primary schools, with middle schools that have a higher population, and two institutes of higher learning. There are also 3 factory financed financed universities, and Tibetan students are also sent to universities in other parts of China.

Before 1959 there were only two medical clinics to serve serf owners and their families, with no facilities for serfs and slaves. Serfs and slaves had to depend entirely on Tibetan folk medicines and cures, which was primitive and unscientific. Today after l959, Tibet and the regions is served by 4,000 full-time medical workers with the support of 6,700 barefoot doctors and health workers and the service is free. Every county has a hospital, and communes health stations. All factories and mines and county districts have health clinics. As a result of this improvement of community health, and a better standard of living, there has been a rapid increase in the Tibetan population.
While the Tibetan population shrank by 1,000,000 in the 200 year period before 1959, the population has increased byf 400,000 in the 15 years after 1959. The benefits of better health and welfare for the minority tribes has also benefited tremendously. [26]

These improvements for the welfare of the serfs and slaves of Tibet is so apparent to independent observers like Parenti, Goldstein, Strong, and many others that no amount of propaganda from the Dalai Lama clique or his sympathisers, can possibly disclaim that the Liberation of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was/is a blessing for the Tibetan people. There is no evidence of the cultural suppression of the Tibetan culture or the Tibetan way of life as is claimed from Dharamsala the residence of the Dalai Lama. Tibet is open for foreigners to visit to verify for themselves and confirm the narrative from Anna Louise Strong and others. Soon, the liberated serfs and slaves will be publishing their own literary views for the world to read.


[1] Ancient religious practices in Asia: http://www.global-prayer-digest.org/monthdetails/2003/md-March-2003.asp
[2] The Bot Bon Religion of early Tibet: http://www.scribd.com/doc/20594161/Bot-Bon-Religion-of-Tibet
[3] Early Tibetan History: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Tibet
[4] Early Buddhism: http://buddhism.about.com/od/buddhisthistory/a/earlyhistory.htm
[5] Spread of Buddhism: http://www.buddhist-tourism.com/buddhism-information/spread-of-buddhism.html
[6] The Essence of Buddhism: http://www.wanderings.net/notebook/Main/FourNobleTruthsBuddhism
[7] Taoism: http://www.religioustolerance.org/taoism.htm
[8] Confucianism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucianism
[9] Kublai Khan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kublai_Khan
[10] Tibet and the Qing Dynasty: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2008-05/06/content_6665072.htm
[11] Tibetan Serfdom: http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html
[12] Tibetan Priests: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bit/bit15.htm
[13] The Opium Trade in China: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/history/om/om15.htm
[14] The Demise of the Qing Dynasty: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qing_Dynasty
[15] Tibet and the People’s Republic of China: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibet
[16] The 17 Point Agreement for Tibet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventeen_Point_Agreement_for_the_Peaceful_Liberation_of_Tibet
[17] The Dalai Lama’s 5 Point Peace Plan: http://www.dalailama.com/page.121.htm
[18] Five Decades of Progress in Tibet since 1959: http://karachi.china-consulate.org/eng/zt/t427781.htm

References for Epilogue:

[19]&[11] The Myth of Tibet:Serfdom: – Michael Parenti: http://www.swans.com/library/art9/mparen01.html
[20] Testimony of a Tibetan Serf:http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/archive.cgi?noframes;read=120826
[21] History of Tibet by Alex McKay
[22] Reviews of History of Modern Tibet part 1:
[23] Reviews of History of Modern Tibet part 2:
[24] Reviews of Buddha’s Warriors:
[25] Review of CIA’s Secret War in Tibet:
[26] When (Tibetan) Serfs Stood Up in Tibet by Anna Louise Strong
[27] The CIA Tibetan Activity consists of political action, propaganda, and paramilitary activity. The purpose of the program at this stage is to keep the political concept of an autonomous Tibet alive within Tibet and among foreign nations, principally India, and to build a capability for resistance against possible political developments inside Communist China.

[28] Some details of the Gelugpa sect:

As a matter of fact, freedom of religious belief is one of the basic rights endowed to the Chinese citizens by the Chinese Constitution. Article 36 of the Constitution says, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.”

In addition to the Constitution, other Chinese laws, including the Criminal Law, the Civil Code, the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, the Military Service Law, the Law on Compulsory Education, the Law on Education, the Electoral Law for the National People’s Congress and the Local People’s Congresses, the Organic Law of Village Committees, the Labor Law and the Law on Advertising all stipulate that citizens’ freedom of religious belief is protected and public organizations and individuals should not discriminate against citizens who believe in or do not believe in any religion.

But one thing should be clarified. Freedom of religious belief does not mean religious activities are also free from government regulation or legal obligations. To believe in a religion or not is a personal issue and a free choice, but religious activities, which might affect other people, must be bound by law.

To protect citizens’ freedom of religious belief, maintain social harmony and regulate religious affairs, the State Council issued the Regulations on Religious Affairs in 2004. Article 2 of the Regulations says that no organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in or not to believe in any religion. Nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in any religion or citizens who do not believe in any religion.

Religious citizens and non-religious citizens shall respect each other and co-exist in harmony, and so shall citizens who believe in different religions.

The provisions concerning protection of citizens’ freedom of religious belief in the Constitution and the laws have been implemented in earnest in Tibet. Tibet now has more than 1,780 religious sites, about 46,000 monks and nuns, four mosques and one Catholic church. Religious groups co-exist harmoniously and their religious activities are held in an orderly manner in Tibet.

Without genuine freedom of religious belief, this would be impossible……….

The old regime didn’t benefit Tibet. Instead, it impeded Tibet’s social development. According to the Tibetan Annals written in the Qing Dynasty, Tibet had a total population of 1.3 million in 1737. During the following 200 years, Tibet’s population didn’t increase. Instead, it declined to 1 million in 1951.

Its economic situation was even worse. In 1951, Tibet was still a feudal serfdom with no modern industries and education. What the situation would be if the old system were restored in Tibet in which one tenth of the population were monks and nuns? By 2007, Tibet recorded a population of 2.83 million. If 280,000 people were monks or nuns and did not work, the pressure on laymen to support them would be crippling.

Education is the foundation for social development. Article 2 of the Law on Compulsory Education says, “Compulsory education is the education which is implemented uniformly by the state and shall be received by all school-age children and adolescents. It is a public welfare cause that shall be guaranteed by the state.”

Article 4 says, “All children and adolescents who have the nationality of the People’s Republic of China and have reached the school age shall have equal right and have the obligation to receive compulsory education, regardless of gender, nationality, race, status of family property, religion, belief, etc.”


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