Dharamshala: Anen Dawa, the last surviving personal bodyguard of His Holiness the Dalai Lama passed away on 27 December at the age of 83. He died peacefully with his family by his side in Minnesota, US.
Born in 1939, Anen Dawa was only 15 when he joined the personal army of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Norbulingka, Tibet. After four years, he was formally inducted in the army and continued to serve as personal guard to His Holiness through his schooling in Sera, Drepung and Gaden monasteries for the next 4 years and particularly, during the Lhasa Monlam ceremony when His Holiness was receiving Geshe Lharampa Degree in February 1959.
In the most critical turn of events in March 1959, when the Tibetan uprising was crushed and the threat of Chinese military attacks was ever-growing, on the fateful night of March 17 1959, His Holiness accompanied by tens of thousands of Tibetans fled into exile to India. Anen Dawa at the risk of his own life fulfilled his duties to ensure the safe passage of the Tibetan spiritual leader to exile. On arriving safely in India on 31 March, the accompanying personal bodyguards and a group of volunteers decided to return to Tibet to mount a resistance against the Chinese forces. At the time as the youngest of them, Anen Dawa and another bodyguard were asked by His Holiness to accompany him to Mussourie where His Holiness would establish his first residence.
In accordance with His Holiness’ instructions, he was among the first batch of 50 students who enrolled in the Tibetan Refugee Educational Institute, Mussoorie established in 1960. After completing schooling, Anen Dawa served the CTA dedicatedly in the capacity of a translator and facilitator for Tibetan refugees arriving in Nepal. He then pursued his further studies in the US at Cornell University and later at Boston from where he graduated with distinction.
In 1972, he was posted to Nepal to serve as the accountant at CTA-administrated factory. Later from 1979 onwards for many years, he worked tirelessly for children’s health, Tibetan culture and ethics-based education at Tibetan Homes School in Mussourie. Finally, in 1996, he immigrated to Minnesota through the resettlement policy and retired from service where he lived for the rest of his life. On 26 December, Anan Dawa passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.
Anen Dawa is survived by his wife Khando Dawa, three children Tseyang, Choewang and Choephel, and granddaughter Zenden.