Dalai Lama

(b. 1935)

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1935– )

Tibetan Buddhist leader; spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet (1951–59). He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, in recognition of his appeals for the nonviolent liberation of his homeland from Chinese rule.

Born into a peasant family in Amdo province, Tenzin Gyatso was five when oracles proclaimed him the reincarnation of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, who had died in 1933. He was enthroned at Lhasa in 1940 and ruled in his own right from 1950. A year later the Chinese invaded Tibet; when the sixteen-year-old Dalai Lama's pleas were ignored by the UN, the UK, and India he had no choice but to sign an agreement in which Tibet became an ‘autonomous region’ of China and his own powers became largely notional. In 1959 China's attempts to destroy the national and religious identity of Tibet provoked an uprising, quickly suppressed by the occupying forces. The Dalai Lama and most of his ministers fled to India, followed by thousands of refugees. Since his exile he has acted as a spokesman for the plight of his country and has written widely on Buddhism and his search for world peace.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Buddhism.

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