Today marks the 88th birth anniversary of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the destined deity of sentient beings karmically tied with the snowy land of Tibet, the manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the lord of the three realms, the champion of world peace, a scholar-adept of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s tradition, the saviour and the supreme leader of Tibetans. On the auspicious day of the 6th July, 1935, as a result of countless prayers and merits of his disciples, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was born in Kubum Taktser, located in Domey province of Tibet. He was born with auspicious signs that coincided with unmistakable and unfailing vajra prophecies made by innumerable deities and masters. As His Holiness has now reached his 88th year, on the behalf of Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet, with prostration and heartfelt gratitude, and with indomitable faith, reverence, and joy, I offer my warm greetings and good wishes.
No word is fine enough to describe the contribution His Holiness has made – through his infinite emanations as kings, ministers and mahasiddhas – in guiding infinite beings onto the path of favourable birth, and eventually, to liberation. Under the temporal and spiritual leadership of Tibet, His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama ensured happiness for all Tibetans. At times when humanity at large and Tibet in particular was going through one of its darkest times with dire situations, His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama consciously took the form-body – with all the major and minor marks – to lead Tibet. Endowed with a vast knowledge that is qualified with learning, reflection and meditation, also with explication, debate and composition, His Holiness has mastered in both the general and specialised field of study. With his nectar-like teachings embroidered with the clear realisation of bodhicitta and emptiness, it’s not only the fruition of virtuous actions of Tibetans, but also of beings from far off continents to receive them.
Even as a young kid His Holiness was altogether from a different league in his conduct relative to those who were of his age. Complementing the auspicious signs that had appeared in Lhamo Latso and the prayers of his predecessors, he quashed all doubts to be designated as the unmistakable incarnation of the previous Dalai Lama by recognising the ritual instruments belonging to His Holiness the Great 13th Dalai Lama. In 1939, His Holiness was invited to Lhasa – the capital of Tibet, and was officially enthroned in 1940 at the Potala Palace. Thus, the banner of auspicious interdependent was flown in all directions. He then immersed in studying the hagiographies of great practitioners, and accomplished his doctorate in Buddhist philosophy (Tib. Geshe Lharampa) in 1959. In 1949, when the Chinese communist army started the invasion of eastern parts of Tibet, and the situation across Tibet became tense and critical, His Holiness who was just 16 at the time, accepted the spontaneous appeal of deities and people of Tibet, and thus assumed the political leadership of Tibet in November 17, 1950.
His Holiness’ noble endeavour in establishing peace and harmonious relationship between the two neighbouring countries – India and China, and his efforts in the democratisation of Tibetan polity, which includes the societal reform marked the beginning of joyous pace for Tibetans. However, with the invasion of Tibet, his efforts were cut short, leaving him with no option than to seek refuge in India. In exile His Holiness reached out to numerous Indian leaders, established the Central Tibetan Administration, and started working for the welfare of thousands who had followed his footstep into exile. With great love and compassion, he successfully established settlements, schools, handicraft centres, commercial enterprises, monastic institutions to preserve Tibet’s unique religious tradition irrespective of different schools of thoughts.
With the urgency to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict, His Holiness immediately started establishing separate Tibetans schools for the future custodians of Tibet, the Tibetan children. These children who had studied in the exile schooling system, and later graduated from different colleges and universities, resulted in an educated Tibetan community in exile. Today those who have had the opportunity of growing up and receiving education under His Holiness’ benevolent leadership are serving the Tibetan diasporic community – shouldering numerous responsibilities in the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), different institutes securing Tibetan culture, hospitals, NGOs and so forth. Tibetans across the globe, which have grown into educated communities with specialised experts, are now shouldering not only personal responsibilities but also leading their respective communities. This has become one of the greatest victories for Tibetans. We should duly recognise that such an achievement has dawned upon us only with the blessing and kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Considering the power of compassion as an essential component underlying all beings who aspire for happiness and to avoid suffering, His Holiness advocates the cultivation of universal ethics as a means to strive for the environmental protection, sustenance of religious harmony, conflict resolution and to end war. In these degenerated times marked by turbulent days and nights, His Holiness has been guiding Tibetans on the path of non-violence. Preserving and protecting the distinct culture of Tibet, which is intrinsically tied with the sublime dharma, he aspires to transform Tibet into a zone of peace. His Holiness has visited numerous countries in the west with the gift of spiritual wealth, and gave the heart of Buddhism, which includes Buddhist philosophy of dependent arising, non-violent conduct, and the essence of Bodhicitta practice that includes, love, compassion and altruism. With faith and devotion an increasing number of devotees from all walks of life, which includes dignitaries of governmental and non-governmental organisations, general public, and others from across the world, come to seek His Holiness’ advice and teaching. All of them are positively impacted from his nectar-like guidance. As the kindness of His Holiness extends far beyond Tibetans to all sentient beings, the celebration of his birth anniversary in different parts of the world offers yet another auspicious occasion to acquire merits.
In recognition of His Holiness’ untiring work for the wellbeing of others, he was bestowed with over a hundred awards including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He has also authored over two-hundred books, in Tibetan and English, on the importance of loving kindness and compassion, on ethics and environment. In commemorating this auspicious occasion, we should educate ourselves with the books he has authored thus far. As His Holiness often mentions that being practical in following his advice and being kind would be the best gift for him on his birthday, we should study and practice his advice, particularly his four principal commitments.
Moreover, he has transformed the Tibetan political system into a democratic setup with the establishment of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile in 1960, followed by outlining a brief democratic constitution for the future of Tibet in 1961 and promulgation of the complete democratic constitution for the future free Tibet in 1963. In 1991, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile was fully transformed into a legislative body. The 11th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (then called the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies) adopted the Charter of Tibetans in exile. His Holiness the Dalai Lama signed the charter on 28th June 1991. This transformed the Central Tibetan Administration, then the Tibetan government in exile, into a fully democratic set-up – rooted in a system that’s based on the rule of law, which consists of the three democratic pillars and autonomous bodies with different departments. As per the wish of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the first Kalon Tripa was elected by the Tibetan diaspora in 2001. In 2011, His Holiness the Dalai Lama formally devolved his political and administrative power to the elected leaders; it thus ended the nearly 400 years of Gaden Phodrang’s government. His Holiness’ transformation of the Central Tibetan Administration into a genuine and stable democratic setup remains one of the cornerstones of his achievement in the sphere of religion and politics, and for which we must all be grateful.
Acknowledging the above stated contributions of His Holiness, the US government and congress has extended their support for Tibet by adopting legislations on Tibet. Similarly, there is a growing support for Tibet in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Concern on Tibet was raised in the statement of the Group of Seven (G7) summit held in Japan in the month of May, and a resolution calling for China to stop its interference in religious freedom and forced assimilation of Tibetans in Tibet was adopted by the Czech Senate Committee. Tibet’s issue was also brought up several times in Geneva summit for human’s rights, and a report on Tibet entitled The Human Rights Situation of Tibetans and the Chinese Residential Boarding School and Preschool System was produced by the Canadian parliament’s international human rights subcommittee. All these show that the international community recognises the need for extending political support to Tibet.
In order to resolve the issue of Sino-Tibet conflict, His Holiness envisioned the Middle Way – a win-win proposition for both Tibet and China – after years of contemplation, and a series of discussions with the speaker and the deputy speaker of the Tibetan parliament, Kalons, civil servants, and representatives of general public since as early as 1975. The Middle Way Policy was unanimously adopted by the Tibetan parliament on 18th September 1997, and became the official policy of the Central Tibetan Administration for the speedy resolution of Sino-Tibet conflict. Chinese leadership, not falling into the deception of financial and military power, should come to realise that true dignity of a country comes through resolving and understanding issues through trust and dialogue, rather than repression and domination imposed by the majoritarian race. With time the Chinese government should change their iron fist policy on Tibet, and try to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict through dialogue with the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Currently, under the repressive policy of China, Tibetans inside Tibet are not even allowed to possess pictures of His Holiness, let alone celebrating his birthday. Scrutinising all aspects of life, they are deprived of basic human rights.
Despite severe restrictions on celebrating His Holiness’ birthday in Tibet, yet due to indomitable faith and samaya of Tibetans towards His Holiness, he often mentions that Tibetans inside Tibet are always in his thoughts and prayers. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Tibetans inside Tibet for reviving and protecting Tibet’s honor, religion, culture and language.
Recently, a short clip of His Holiness the Dalai Lama was manipulatively edited by the Chinese government and circulated in various social media platforms to vilify His Holiness the Dalai Lama who is the ultimate leader of Tibetans and a figure of faith across the global Buddhist community. However, this act of malicious intent failed to restrict His Holiness’ ever-expanding glow and pristine deeds unsullied by worldly faults in all the ten directions. I extend my special appreciation and gratitude to all Tibetans, dignitaries, and especially the Himalayan people for displaying their unwavering faith and devotion in His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama.
I, on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, would like to thank India and the people of India for always rendering their utmost support for the just cause of Tibet. We also like to extend our gratitude to the USA, European countries and others who have supported the Tibetan struggle, directly or indirectly, which include – governments and people of the world. I appeal for their continued and greater support to the Tibetan cause.
In conclusion, I extend my heartfelt and earnest supplication prayers for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to live a long and healthy life. May all his wishes be spontaneously accomplished and may the just cause of Tibet triumph at the soonest.
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile
6th of July 2023
*In case of any discrepancy between this English translation and its Tibetan original, the latter should be considered as authoritative and final for all purposes.