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Tibetan exiles mark Centenary of 13th Dalai Lama's exile to India

February 27, 2010

February 25, 2010

Dharamsala, Feb 25 -- Tibet's government in exile
Thursday organised a grand public function
commemorating the centenary of the Thirteenth
Dalai Lama's exile to India in February 1910.

Thupten Gyatso, better known and revered by
Tibetans as the "Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama" of
Tibet, was forced to take refuge in British India
from 1910 ­ 1912 following the Manchu invasion of
Tibet led by General Chao Er-feng.

When the Manchu (Qing) Dynasty collapsed in 1911,
Tibetans took this opportunity to expel the
remnant Manchu forces from Tibet. The Dalai Lama
returned to Tibet following three years of exile
in India and went on to exercise a political
authority not seen since the reign of the great Fifth Dalai Lama.

The overthrow of the Manchu forces and return of
the Dalai Lama to Lhasa proved historically
significant for Tibetans as it marked the full
restoration of Tibet’s independence in as many
years. The 13th Dalai Lama declared Tibet’s
independence on 13 February 1913 (8th day, first
month, water ox Tibetan year) by making the
public statement of the five points of
reasserting Tibetan Independence. At the same
time, in January 1913, Tibet and Mongolia
declared independence and, subsequently signed
the Tibet-Mongolia Treaty of 1913, a treaty of
friendship and recognition of each other’s independence, .

For 39 years so, from 1911 to 1950, until the
invasion by Chinese Communist government, Tibet
was to enjoy complete independence free from any foreign control.

Tibetans remember Thupten Gyatso as the "Great
Thirteen Dalai Lama" for his much accomplished
role in strengthening Tibet politically and for
his vision to bring about far-reaching reforms to
usher Tibet into an era of modernity against all existing odds at the time.

Only two Dalai Lamas have so far set themselves
apart, and been called "Great." They were the
Fifth Dalai Lama and the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.

Thupten Gyatso became Dalai Lama at a time when
Tibet was in imminent danger of being destroyed
by the machinations of Russia, China, and Great
Britain. There were also serious problems within
Tibetan society; the ruling elite had become
corrupt and the power of the monasteries had become oppressive.

He was born in 1876 at Thakpo Langdun in south
Tibet to Kunga Rinchen and Lobsang Dolma, a
peasant couple. It was a time when the prestige
of the Dalai Lama was at a very low ebb. His four
most recent incarnations had been little more
than figureheads, manipulated in a struggle for
secular power. They had all died young. The
influence of the Manchu emperors of China had
grown during this period of instability, as had
the imperial ambitions of the European powers.

He was recognised as the reincarnation of the
Dalai Lama in 1878 and in 1879, was enthroned at
the Potala Palace. On 8 August 1895, he assumed
political power and went through the British
invasion of Tibet in 1904 and the Chinese
invasion of his country in 1909 and survived both
experiences, with his authority enormously enhanced.

The Great 13th Dalai Lama rose to the challenge
by addressing the problems within Tibetan
society, such as petty regionalism and the
traditional rivalries of the monastic orders; he
created a small national army and tried
desperately to establish diplomatic links with
other nations in order to extricate Tibet from
the web of treachery being spun around it.

During his leadership, legislation was introduced
to counter corruption among officials, a national
taxation system was established and enforced, and
a police force was created. Besides attempting to
modernize Tibet, the Dalai Lama also tried to
eliminate some of the more oppressive features of
the Tibetan monastic system by restoring
discipline in monastic life, and increasing the
number of lay officials to avoid excessive power
being placed in the hands of the monks. In 1914,
he strengthened the Tibetan military force by
organizing special training for the Tibetan army.

After his return from exile in India, Thubten
Gyatso assumed control of foreign relations and
standardised the Tibetan national flag in its
present form. While in exile in India, the Dalai
Lama was fascinated with the modern world and he
introduced the first currencies and coins of
Tibet. In 1913, he established the first post
office in Tibet and he also sent four young
Tibetans to England to study engineering. The
Tibetan Medical Centre (Men-Tsee-Khang) in Lhasa,
near Jokhang, was also started by the 13th Dalai
Lama. In 1923, he established a police
headquarters in Lhasa for the security and
welfare of the Tibetan people and in the same
year, he also established the first English school in Gyaltse.

Few months before he passed away in 1933, the
Great 13th Dalai Lama prophesied the invasion of
Tibet and warned the nation to be prudent about
the tragedy of what was to befall Tibet

Tibetan Prime Minister (Kalon Tripa) Prof
Samdhong Rinpoche and the speaker of the Tibetan
Parliament, Mr Penpa Tsering, addressed the
ceremonial function at the Tsuglagkhang (Main
Tibetan Temple) here this morning.

Rinpoche said today’s commemorative function was
part of a series of official activities to be
organised in the coming months as a collective
expression of gratitude and reverence for the
13th Dalai Lama’s great leadership in the history of Tibet.

Later in the afternoon, Kalon Tripa spoke on the
accomplishments of The Thirteenth Dalai Lama to
an exclusive audience of officials of the Central Tibetan Administration.
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