17 June, 2021

His Holiness... The Dilemma

Yes, he's a thorn in our ties with China. But is that enough for us to castigate the Dalai Lama or forsake the Tibetan cause?

His Holiness... The Dilemma


"Tibet will not die because there is no death for the human spirit.... Tibet will be resurrected."
—Jayaprakash Narayan, 1959

If resurrection means finding space in the minds of world leaders and electrifying international media and civil society after a gap of decades, Tibet has—temporarily at least—been resurrected. And in its resurrection, the spotlight has fallen on a maroon and ochre-robed monk who is, as he says in his autobiography Freedom in Exile, different things to different people. For his followers, the Dalai Lama is a living Buddha. For much of the world, he is the embodiment of Tibet in all its dimensions—political, spiritual and cultural. For India, he is a "respected guest" not expected to engage in political activities, as external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee found it necessary to tell China this week. And in the Cultural Revolution argot favoured by Zhang Qingli, head of the Communist Party in Tibet, he is "a wolf...

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