Here are five interesting facts about the current Dalai Lama, a holy figure within Tibetan Buddhism and an ardent advocate for Tibetan independence from China.
- The Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso was born Lhamo Dhondup on July 6, 1935 to a peasant family in northeastern Tibet. He was found by Tibetan monks at age two and passed all tests and had the physical traits of the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. He took the throne at age 4 at an enthronement ceremony in Lhasa, Tibet and became a monk at age 6.
- He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his work advocating nonviolent means to free Tibet from China. He has lived in India in exile since 1959 when the Chinese Army eliminated an uprising in Tibet.
- The Dalai Lama has a variety of hobbies. His favorite activities include meditating, gardening, and repairing watches.
- The Dalai Lama is said to be a manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion who has chosen to reincarnate to serve the people. The current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso is is the 74th manifestation of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. Tibetans refer to him as Yeshe Norbu, the Wish-fulfilling Gem, or Kundun, meaning The Presence.
- The Dalai Lama has continuously emphasized his desire to see Tibet democratized. He has publicly declared that once the Tibetans are capable of achieving independence from the Chinese government, he will not hold political office, choosing instead to remain as a purely religious figure despite his current status as the Tibetan Head of State and Government. He wishes to continue to travel and spread his message of religious and cultural tolerance and peace.
– Caitlin Zusy
Sources: US News, CNN