Lhasa [Tibet], May 12 (ANI): These days the word 'Dalai Lama' and 'peace' have become synonyms for each other. In a popular television show, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver", a British-American comedian and television host asked his American audience to describe the Dalai Lama. The spiritual guru in that show was described as words like "peaceful", "He (Dalai Lama) said lots of good quotes about life", "good man and have lots of respect" and "leader of a peaceful religion".
According to American analytical and advisory company Gallup, Dalai Lama is the sixth most respected person in America. His continued stature to this day, even after resigning from exile political duties. It speaks volumes about the popularity and attraction Buddhism and the Dalai Lama carry around the world.
Tibetans believed that Dalai Lama is an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of compassion. He is a successor in the line of reincarnated gurus (tulku), who delayed their enlightenment to help and show the right path to people afflicted with suffering and ignorance.
The word Dalai is derived from a Mongolian word for 'ocean' and Lama is a Tibetan term meaning 'guru' or teacher. Sonam Gyatso, the third Dalai Lama, went to Mongolia in the 16th century, at the invitation of Tumut Mongol leader Altan Khan. He is the first individual to be bestowed with the title 'Dalai Lama'. It was not until 1642, during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama that the office of Dalai Lama (Gaden Phodrang) was able to consolidate fragmented kingdoms and became temporal and spiritual leaders of Tibet.
The Tibetan King Song Tsen Gampo is one of the kings who introduced Buddhism into Tibet from India. Before Buddhism was introduced in Tibet, there was an indigenous religion called Bon, which enjoyed state patronage and uncontested spiritual authority. During the 33rd king Drisong Duetsen, they had to invite tantric master Padmasambhava from India to tame demonic and evil spirits, who were resisting the building of a Buddhist temple.
Buddhism in Tibet also witnessed a state of degradation after the schism of the last King but still, it survived only in the peripheral region of Amdo (the present Dalai Lama comes from the same region). And from there Buddhism once again flourished under different regional kings and smaller dominions. Dalai Lama, who heads the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, played an important role in reviving Buddhism.
The current, 14th, 13th and 5th Dalai Lama were some of the most important individuals in the lineage of Dalai Lamas whose service to the nation and Buddhism can't be forgotten. And no Dalai Lama in the history of this line lived like the current Dalai Lama.
The current Dalai Lama said in one of his speeches that the Chinese military invasion and his subsequent exile to India brought the loss of countless lives, but it also helped him to meet countless ordinary people and also helped him reaffirm his commitment to revive both Buddhism and the culture that has been lost to the Chinese invasion.
Dalai Lama and Buddhism have played a major role in creating a pan-Tibetan identity, especially after the 1959 incident. Before China invaded Tibet, the religious institutions and monastic orders preferred to identify themselves among different Tibetan Buddhist sects of Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, Gelug and Bon; and the laity identified themselves as Amdowa, Toepa, Khampa, Ngari and Tsangpa.
Due to the sacrilege of Buddhism during the Chinese cultural revolution and the constant vilification and ostracization of the Dalai Lama, the Chinese have created a sense of "otherness" - otherness from Chinese or Han, i.e. Tibetan - among Tibetans.
In today's time, the respect and loyalty toward Dalai Lama are unmatchable. 157 Tibetans in both Tibet and exile have self-immolated in line with the Buddhist doctrine of not hurting others and self-inflicting pain on oneself to draw attention to the waning Tibetan issue on an international platform. Almost all self-immolators were in unison in calling the Chinese government to let His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama return to Tibet. Many have also called for religious freedom and the right to learn one's own culture and language.
To narrate another incident, Tibetans in Tibet burned exotic expensive furs of animals, which were traditionally kept as valued items, after the Dalai Lama, during one of the teachings, called for the safeguarding of animals and the futility of living an immoderate lifestyle.
Perhaps, it would be not wrong to make a passing judgment that a single man, who leads a population (in exile) of just 1,50,000 Tibetans, has made Tibet a 'cause of the world' and spread Buddhism to so many hinterlands across the globe preaching love, compassion, laughter and peace. (ANI)