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Before & After





Up until the communist invasion in 1949, the country of Tibet could be traced back thousands of years. It has a long and complex history. Nomadic tribes populated Tibet as early as the 2nd Century B.C. and discoveries indicate a much longer history of human kind. Inhabitants were most likely in existence in Tibet ever since the later part of the Paleolithic Age. By the Neolithic Age these inhabitants had scattered around the region which formed the basis of the Tibetan race as we know it today. Although written history only dates back to the seventh century, from the reign of Emperor Songtsen Gampo, there is evidence of the Tibetan empire and independence from as far back as 127 B.C.

The Tsanpo Period - 127.B.C. - 842 A.D.
Nyatri Tsanpo was the first of the Tsanpos. This period lasted from 127 B.C. through 842 A.D. at the death of Lang Dharma, the last of the Tsanpos.
Over forty-two various Tsanpos ruled over Tibetan lands during this period, up until the reign of Songtsen Gampo. Gampo combined many tribes from all over Tibet to form his Tubo dynasty, moved the capital to Lhasa and married two princesses, one from China and one from Nepal. He built the Jokhang temple and began the building of the Potala Palace. Gampo sent his minister Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit. On his return, he invented the present Tibetan script based on Sanskrit and inscription of history started. more on Gampo

Genghis Khan Period - 842 - 1260 A.D.
Tibet decentralized from around 842 to 1260 A.D. subsequent to the fall of the Tubo Dynasty caused by a revolt of the common people. This period saw the region split into smaller Monastic pockets of influence. Tubo society was altered from one of bonded labor to one with more freedom and independence. In the mid 13th Century, to avoid the wrath of the Khan empire, Tibetan leaders submitted to Genghis Khan whose central administration passed the power to Sakya Pandita who became Viceroy to Tibet. Khuble Khan himself became a convert to Tibetan Buddhism in 1270 after studying with the Viceroy. Around 1350, after the collapse of the Mongal Empire, Tibet came together once more as the power and influence of the Sakayapa Lamas declined. See Sakya monastery.

The Dalai Lamas Period - 14th Century
In the 14th Century a reformist movement led by Tsongkapa challenged the Sakayapa. The new monastic school known as Gelukpa (yellow hats) garnered the support of the local chieftains and surviving Mongal lords. In 1578 Alton Khan, the Mongal ruler, conferred the title of Dalai Lama (ocean of wisdom) on the third high priest of the Gelukpa sect, Sonam Gyatso, and this title was passed down to his predecessors. From the early 1600, the Dalai Lamas, known as spiritual leaders of the region and believed to be the emanations of Avalokitesvara, held the religious and political power. Deciding upon meditation to develop the mind, rather than wars, Tibet enjoyed a few hundred years of relative tranquility and peace in their self-imposed isolation.

Gyatso - 1617 - 1682
Between 1617 and 1682 the fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsan Gyatso reunified Tibet and extended his harmonious blend of religious and political authority to the borders of the region. With its strategic position between the great civilizations of India and China, Tibet increasingly became a chess piece in the game of obtain and possess. Tibet was plunged into chaos in 1720 when the Chinese tore down the walls of Lhasa and quartered a large garrison there whilst annexing part of Northern Tibet. Although Tibet did request military assistance from China at times, Tibet always considered itself to be an independent country. Tibetans are not Chinese. They don't resemble Chinese peoples. Tibetans don't even speak Chinese, nor is their culture similar to Chinese. Their religion is Tibetan Buddhism, not Confucianism or the Chinese version of Buddhism.

Nepalese Tax - Mid 19th century
By the mid 19th century whatever power the Chinese claimed to have in Tibet faltered and fell away. When faced with another Ghurka invasion, China did not respond.  The Nepalese exacted an annual tax on Tibet. A period followed of intense rivalry between the British Raj in India and the Russians because the British feared that the Russians wanted to control Tibet as a gateway to India. Everyone wanted a piece of this buffer state in Southeast Asia.

British Invasion - 1903
In 1903 a British force invaded Tibet and reached Lhasa and the 13th Dalai Lama fled to Mongolia and returned in 1907 when Tibet and the British had somehow become close friends. In 1910 the Chinese once again invaded Tibet. This time the Dalai Lama took refuge in India and his return was followed by the demise of the Quing dynasty. Tibet expelled the remaining Chinese troops to an area which roughly defines the border of the TAR, Tibet Autonomous Region of China today. Tibet signed treaties with other nations, which to some minds means it was recognized as a country.

World War II - 1949 Chinese Invasion
During the second World War, Tibet was neutral and when India became independent in 1947 and the threat of British resistance disappeared, the Chinese invaded Tibet again in 1949. Tibetan forces were no match for the invaders. With a few old muskets and rusted guns they put up an honorable fight, but they were mowed down within days. The 14th Dalai Lama (current Dalai Lama) was left no choice but to sign an agreement with the Chinese. In 1951 a seventeen point peaceful liberation agreement was signed. This agreement left Tibet to handle its internal affairs allowing freedom of religion, whilst China took control of the military and broader political affairs of the country. With little choice, Tibet also agreed to give up any right to independence. For a detailed review, click here

1959 - Present
The following few years saw the Chinese steadily carving off bits of the country whilst growing in influence all over Tibet. An invitation to an assassination party finally made the Dalai Lama realize the intention to take his life. After a major uprising by the Tibetan people in 1959 which was brutally put down by Chinese troops and armaments, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee under the cover of darkness dressed as a commoner. Sick at heart he fell ill and entered India in tears.

During Mao's Cultural Revolution over 6000 monastic universities (monasteries) were destroyed by Red Guards. Millions of people died from starvation from Mao's agricultural policies to grow wheat rather than barley on the frigid mountain plains. When rebuilding began, new roads, railroads and infrastructure smothered the Tibetan dream of having their own country, culture, employment and religious leader.

If it was true that Tibet was always a part of China like the Chinese claim, the Tibetan people would certainly have some knowledge of the Chinese language, customs and religion. But until the invasion and subsequent occupation, Tibetans lived isolated and solitary in their land, speaking their own language, living their own customs, and worshipping in their own ways. The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government now live and operate in Dharamasala, India as they work toward a peaceful resolution to their dilemma. More than 80,000 Tibetans have followed and currently live in exile in India waiting and praying to return to their homeland. more


















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