The Dalai Lama is both the living conscience of the Tibetan people and an internationally respected human rights symbol. His high-profile appearances and books have fueled the surging popularity of Buddhism in the United States and throughout the West. This new, up-to-date biography provides insight into the curious and winning personality of the Dalai Lama as a boy and his wisdom as a man. The Buddhist spiritual worlds and the Dalai Lama's rarified role are engagingly and evenly presented.
The Dalai Lama's story is revealed from his early family life to his experiences in the world, his education as the 14th incarnation of the Lama, his exile in India, and his current struggles to help Tibet regain its independence from China. Especially helpful is the clear historical overview of the Tibetan crisis after the Chinese invasion. A timeline and glossary also supplement the text. Though the book is written especially for high school students doing reports, it will also be of immense interest to general readers.
<DIV><P>In December 2010 residents of Kalimpong, a town on the Indian border with Tibet, turned out en masse to welcome the Dalai Lama. It was only then they realized for the first time that the neighbor they knew as the noodle maker of Kalimpong was also the Dalai Lama’s older brother. The Tibetan spiritual leader had come to visit the Gaden Tharpa Choeling monastery and join his brother for lunch in the family compound. <BR><P>Gyalo Thondup has long lived out of the spotlight and hidden from view, but his whole life has been dedicated to the cause of his younger brother and Tibet. He served for decades as the Dalai Lama’s special envoy, the trusted interlocutor between Tibet and foreign leaders from Chiang Kai-shek to Jawaharlal Nehru, Zhou Enlai to Deng Xiaoping. Traveling the globe and meeting behind closed doors, Thondup has been an important witness to some of the epochal events of the 20th century. No one has a better grasp of the ongoing great game as the divergent interests of China, India, Russia and the United States continue to play themselves out over the Tibetan plateau. Only the Dalai Lama himself has played a more important role in the political history of modern, tragedy-ridden Tibet. Indeed, the Dalai Lama’s dramatic escape from Lhasa to exile in India would not have been possible without his brother’s behind-the-scenes help. <BR><P>Now, together with Anne F. Thurston, who co-wrote the international best seller <EM>The Private Life of Chairman Mao</EM>, Gyalo Thondup is finally telling his story. <BR><P>The settings are exotic—the Tibetan province of Amdo where the two brothers spent their early childhood; Tibet’s legendary capital of Lhasa; Nanjing, where Thondup received a Chinese education; Taiwan, where he fled when he could not return to Tibet; Calcutta, Delhi, and the Himalayan hill towns of India, where he finally made his home; Hong Kong, which served as his listening post for China, and the American Rockies, where he sent young Tibetan resistance fighters to be trained clandestinely by the CIA. <BR><P>But Thondup's story does not reiterate the otherworldly, Shangri-La vision of the Land of Snows so often portrayed in the West. Instead, it is an intimate, personal look at the Dalai Lama and his immediate family and an inside view of vicious and sometimes deadly power struggles within the Potala Palace--that immensely imposing architectural wonder that looms over Lhasa and is home to both the spiritual and secular seats of Tibetan power. <BR></DIV>
Escape from the Land of Snows: The Young Dalai Lama's Harrowing Flight to Freedom and the Making of a Spiritual Hero
Mao Zedung, China’s ruthless Communist dictator, had pinned his hopes for total Tibetan submission on controlling the impressionable Dalai Lama. So beloved was the young ruler—so identified with his country’s essence—that for him to escape might mean perpetual resistance from a population unwilling to tolerate an increasingly brutal occupation. The Dalai Lama’s minders sent word to the Tibetan rebels and CIA-trained guerrillas who waited on the route: His Holiness must escape—at all costs.
In many ways, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was unprepared for the epic journey awaiting him. Twenty-two years earlier, government search parties, guided by prophecies and omens, had arrived at the boy’s humble peasant home and subjected the two-year-old to a series of tests. After being declared the reincarnation of Tibet’s previous ruler, the boy was brought to Lhasa to learn the secrets of Buddhism and the ways of ultimate power. Forced in the ensuing two decades to cope with aching loneliness and often stifling ritual—and compelled to suppress his mischievous personality—Gyatso eventually proved himself a capable leader. But no previous Dalai Lama had ever taken on a million Communist Chinese soldiers bent on stamping out Tibetan freedom.
To keep his country’s dream of independence alive by means of a government in exile, the young ruler would not only have to brave battalions of enemy soldiers and the whiteout conditions waiting on the slopes of the Himalayas’ highest peaks, he’d have to overcome a different type of blindness: the naïveté intrinsic to his sheltered palace life and his position as leader of a people who considered violence deeply taboo.
His mind made up, the young Dalai Lama set off on his audacious journey to India while behind him a Chinese army rolled over Lhasa, its advance hunter patrols in fierce pursuit of the man they most coveted. The 14th’s escape was an act of daring and defiance that represented Tibet’s last hope, and so the world watched, transfixed, as the gentle monk’s journey unfolded.
Emotionally powerful and irresistibly page-turning, Escape from the Land of Snows is simultaneously a portrait of the inhabitants of a spiritual nation forced to take up arms in defense of their ideals, and the saga of an initially childlike ruler who at first wore his monk’s robes uncomfortably but was ultimately transformed by his escape into the towering figure the world knows today—a charismatic champion of free thinking and universal compassion.
From the Hardcover edition.
In Exile from the Land of Snows: The Definitive Account of the Dalai Lama and Tibet Since the Chinese Conquest
In this gripping account, John F. Avedon draws on his work and travels with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama to bring us the riveting story of Tibet and its temporal and spiritual leader. Included is an extensive interview with the Dalai Lama, who speaks about the conditions in Tibet, the mind of a Buddha, and the events of his life. Rigorously researched, passionately written, the original edition of In Exile from the Land of Snows was instrumental in launching the modern Tibet movement when it was published in 1984. Now, some three decades later, Avedon’s testimony is more wrenching and relevant than ever.
From the Trade Paperback edition.