Chapter

Introduction

Melvyn C. Goldstein

in A History of Modern Tibet, volume 2

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520249417
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933323 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520249417.003.0001
Introduction

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Political systems have ideologies that summarize and rationalize their basic premises. In Tibet, society and government were based on a value system in which religious goals and activities were paramount. The Tibetan state as headed by the Dalai Lama was founded in the mid-seventeenth century after decades of bitter sectarian conflict. In the twentieth century, Tibet looked modernity straight in the eyes and rejected change and adaptation. Its leaders saw Tibet's greatness in its religious institutions and felt strongly that these should be continued without competition or contamination from “modern” institutions such as public schools or a professional army. The Tibetan feudal politico-economic system was based on estates, each of which had hereditarily bound serfs who provided free labor and often other taxes in kind. The monasteries, incarnate lamas, aristocrats, and the government itself all depended on this system of relations.

Keywords: Dalai Lama; Tibet; political systems; religious institutions; monasteries

Chapter.  7549 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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