WOODSIDE, NY, US, 8 April 2019
Every time I read or talk or write about the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, it is painful. I have grown, been guided, suffered, and rejoiced with the present Dalai Lama. To talk about him not being here is surreal and a further reinforcement of the law of impermanence that doesn’t even spare the living divine. But it also reaffirms our hope that he will continue on in a different reincarnated abode. But it is by and large a subject Tibetans would happily compartmentalize into the farthest corners of their brains.
The recent barrage of news about the malicious Chinese open conspiracy to hijack, politicize, and then mockingly regulate the institution of the Dalai Lama under the atheist Chinese Communist Constitution has caused quite an uproar and rattled our self-censorship of this preposterous topic.
It gives me great joy that His Holiness has said time and again that his reincarnation will likely take place in India — a free country, land of the Buddha, a place of refuge and far away from the sinister clutches of the Communist rule.
If the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and does take place in India, will he be automatically born an Indian, or will he then claim Indian citizenship later? That’s a burning question even if we brush it off and say that it hardly matters. But I guess it does and it will matter.
What guarantee is there that he will born to a Tibetan refugee family? Historically, the fourth Dalai Lama, Yonten Gyatso, was a Mongolian, the great grandson of Altan Khan, who was a descendant of Kublai Khan. If the fifteenth Dalai Lama is born to an Indian family, if not subtle, there will be a paradigm shift away as far as solving the Tibetan issue. Just my wildest imagination at work.
According to the enactment of the Indian citizenship act, Tibetans born in India from 1950-87 could claim Indian citizenship, and the second and third generations would be automatically eligible.
Although there are no formal restrictions imposed by the CTA on Tibetan refugees seeking Indian citizenship, it has in some ways discouraged them from taking this step. There is silent condemnation and strong feeling amongst the Tibetan community that taking Indian citizenship would dwindle the Tibetan movement so to speak. And it does make sense, yet it doesn’t too. I am a Tibetan-American, but my patriotism towards Tibet is through the roof. But for a Tibetan spiritual leader, being Tibetan in both body and mind is quintessential as a symbol for Tibet.
So what could be the implications of a reincarnated Dalai Lama born in India? What could be the political fallout? I have heard His Holiness say time and again that he is physically Tibetan but mentally Indian. Would the reincarnated Dalai Lama then become Indian both mentally and physically too? If so, how would that affect the legitimate dynamics to deal with China as a leader of the Tibetan people? Even though His Holiness have said that he would just be a spiritual leader, in a Democracy awarded to us by His Holiness, with no political parties and a secular one, his words and wishes would still be supreme in our Tibetan hearts and minds.
Regardless of where the reincarnation of His Holiness takes place, one thing is as certain as a new day coming after night: The China-chosen reincarnation will never be accepted by the Tibetans even if they shove bullets through the Tibetans’ mouths. China’s hand-picked would be another laughing stock just like their chosen fake Panchen Lama is. I don’t even remember his face. But yes, the face of a kidnapped child, the world youngest political prisoner, that of the Panchen Lama recognized by His Holiness, is embedded into every Tibetan heart and mind.
About the author
Ugyen Gyalpo lives in Woodside, New York, and works as an insurance agent for United Health Group, New York.