KALIMPONG, India, 18 September 2020
Tibetan jibes are many, and one of them concerning how Tibet was lost to China is legendary. Pa ra sho, a form of gambling with dice, was hugely popular among the Tibetans then. Though played for money, the game could inflame so much passion that a life or two could be lost instead of money. There were whispers doing the rounds that some even bet their wives and lost. It is possible that one of these poor souls invented this jibe to defame and get back at the game.
10th-mile Kalimpong was the crossroads for travel to and from Tibet, and inhabited by amalas [”mothers” – Tibetan women] providing a warm and homily atmosphere after the cold and rigors of the Himalayan journey. Needless to say, their culinary skills were god-gifted, and their preparation of the heady Tibetan brew called chang was considered a connoisseurs’ delight.
To get back to the legendary jibe, the official version goes like this: When China invaded Tibet, a delegation was swiftly dispatched to India to seek UN intervention, but the delegation had to pass through, of all places, Kalimpong. Thereafter the official version ends and the tipsy version of the Tibetan intelligentsia takes over. At Kalimpong the bewitching smiles, impassioned shouts, loud thuds of SHO PARA, and hot steamy tongba [chang] taunted the delegation, what the heck only for an hour and two. Hours turned into days, days into months, and the rest is again official history.
We have lots and lots of advice from our precious gurus and if you happen to pass by jug so/ sol deb, well, that is it. However, all these precious blessings pale in significance before Karl Marx’ magnum opus “religion is the opium of the mass” in guiding the fortune of Tibetans as well as Red China in today’s world, the difference is only the word that they chose to focus on. China preferred “mass” and so there you have it, mass production, mass killings, mass destruction, mass reeducation et al. They shunned religion and therefore got no guidance from above, and Marx made them toil in sweat shops. They mass-produced counterfeit substandard ‘Made In China’ and travelled all over the world to market it. They anyhow managed to create Adam Smith’s ‘The wealth of the nation’ and more millionaires than any capitalist nation, but also earned the infamy of being cheats.
In exile, the Tibetans unwittingly made Marx’s “opium” as their USP and armed only with Om Mani Peme Hung, diamond-path Buddhism, and non-violence which they picked up in India, they set out to make their livings. It proved to be a best-seller and the world flocked to them and gave them riches, albeit in envelopes. They built an empire of gonpas [temples] spanning the world — or rather “others” built the empire for them while they sat on high jazzily-decorated podiums to mete out blessings for the good job done by knocking their skull with a holy stick tied with the mandatory five colored cloths. No wonder the Chinese toiling in sweat shops, now and then, viciously lashed out at them with the choicest curses. Karma, however, is infallible, and though the “opium” gave them prosperity, it appears rigorous practice of non-violence has made them lethargic or inactive.
The topmost priority of the Tibetan Government (in-exile?) is freedom of Tibet, because Guru Rinpoche awaits them in the ruins of Samye and His Holiness has to be reinstated earliest in his grand Potala Palace, he has lived too long the life of a commoner in a foreign country. His Holiness is the epitome of compassion and non-violence because he is an Enlightened Being, but the rest of us are not, we are creatures of samsara, and violence is part of our lives and we need to protect ourselves, family, friends, our country, heritage et al, with violence, if necessary. Non-violence is a luxury we cannot afford.
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which when, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. — William Shakespeare” is touted as the jewel of wisdom in the West, but it was already known to us hundreds of years ago as bardo. It’s for this reason that we rejoice when someone dies. We believe that the dead person now lives in the time between death and rebirth, which is the period of flood in Western notion and bardo for us. If a person is able to appropriately handle the situation in this time span, they can attain Buddhahood which normally takes millions of years.
Covid-19 has given this time span or bardo to free Tibet. We are in the period when the old order is dying and a new world is crystallizing, and this is the time to make all-out efforts to ensure the existence of free Tibet in the new world order.
Yes, all Tibetans are aware of bardo, especially those in the higher echelons of Government. So I don’t think I made any mistake in assuming that they are now frantically active on all fronts on the “Free Tibet” movement. Thinking “Finally it’s happening”, I did not want to miss out being a living witness to these epoch-making times. So I scoured the Net, and, oh no, a Tibetan donning a wide-brimmed cowboy hat condescendingly slurring with Texan accent, and try as I might never caught the words “Free Tibet”. Next, amla peach complexion replaced by artificial stone face, wide friendly smile gone and replaced by scholarly looks and expressing sympathy for both the Indian and Chinese troops killed in the Ladakh clash. Another young one, big grin could never stand still, thinking perhaps they were making her Tik Tok. Of course the top gun, he only smiled, never spoke, kept smiling till the anchor became lost for words and his spirit for Free Tibet sufficiently dampened. Having replaced the screaming eagle with subservience, he then began to softly speak and share his wisdom on topics other then Tibet. This guy has got leadership qualities. Then I promptly stopped writing this article and shelved it. In the game of pa ra sho, the pa ra never came.
However with Trump and Modi at the helm of world affairs, things were obviously not going to end like this. While watching on the tube the skydiving SFF [The Tibetan Special Frontier Force] of the Indian Army, I happened to see Pemba behind those huge goggles. This rekindled my interest and by jove, SFF was a huge story. Manned exclusively by Tibetans, they were at the forefront of every war fought by India, and they never failed to bring victory for India. In the Bangladesh War, they had already captured the strategic Chittagong Port by the time the Indian Army reached there. Kargil war, Sri Lanka, Jammu Kashmir, etc. — SFF were there, executing successfully the riskiest and toughest operations. Having done so much for India, it does seem a bit odd for India to still intern them and their families in abject poverty in refugee camps in inhospitable forests, eking out a living on donations from foreign countries. Come on “Mera Bharat Mahan” [My India is great], show them some gratitude, take a re-look at their conditions and let them enjoy your largess befitting national heroes.
Covid-19, a microscopic organism having the power to extinguish mankind, was unleashed from Wuhan by China to counteract the pressure by the Americans to end their unethical commercial practices and expansionist ambitions. It was outright biological war, but I wonder why everyone is loathe to say this. Without firing a single gunshot they managed to kill and maim the Americans in their own homes, including the old, young, and sick. The situation was replicated around the world. Overnight, China’s sinisterism was exposed. Economies crumbled, people reached starvation levels, and fear and death stalked everywhere. The mortality rises everyday and there is no sign of a vaccine. Every nation is paying a heavy price for the CCP lure of the lucre, helping it to become a super-rich, super-power monster rogue.
For the CCP, the virus Covid-19 sent to subjugate the world has turned out to be a nightmare and the world now is baying for their blood. WW3 looms large in the horizon but it’s unlikely that a head-on collision will take place. In all probability, China will be downsized by freeing countries under its illegal occupation. In this list, Tibet stands out like a sore thumb.
Covid-19 has put India also in the doldrums, with more than 45 lakh infected and 76,000 dead and still counting, and its economy in free fall. Not satisfied with inflicting so much damage to India, China is exacerbating the situation by skirmishes with an aim to destabilize and weaken India further. Of course the Chinese have been able to project themselves as the aggrieved party with India occupying Sikkim, Ladakh, and Arunachal, supposedly parts of their Tibet province. But the question here is, is Tibet a part of China? If not then China’s claim on Sikkim, Ladakh, and Arunachal is a hoax.
When the Chinese Army marched into Lhasa in 1951, Tibet was ruled by its own government under the Dalai Lama, and had its own army, currency, postal stamp, etc. Tibetans are vastly different from Chinese religiously, culturally, linguistically et al, and Tibet has a history of existing as an independent nation for thousands of years. Despite more than 70 years of brutal rule, Tibetans still oppose Chinese governance. Maybe there is an agreement signed in the 1940/50s, and even if such an agreement exists, the British and India, supposedly the signatories, had no authority to hand over an independent nation to China. The fact and the truth is, Tibet has been illegally and forcibly occupied by China. Sadly the world has ignored this truth and injustice on 3.18 million Tibetans for the hope of earning a few dollars more, and it is baffling to see nations like the USA succumb to the Chinese threat on this account and gulping down Chinese falsehoods.
India also has made and continues making this fatal mistake of recognising the “One-China Policy”. This recognition makes India an aider and abettor of Chinese false claims on Tibet, and unwittingly an accomplice to all atrocities committed by China on the Tibetans. This recognition strengths China’s claim on India’s own territory of Ladakh, Sikkim, and Arunachal on the basis that they are parts of China’s Tibet. India is well and truly deceived by China.
India and the world now need to dissociate themselves from this Chinese chicanery, dump the “One-China Policy”, and crusade for the truth that Tibet is an independent nation under the illegal occupation of China. LAC then becomes India’s border with Tibet and not with the imposter China. Tibetans can then fight the war of liberation, and there are millions of them in Tibet of the likes of the SFF troops, seething with rage against China for the atrocities committed on them. All they need is bit of training and modern firearms, and they will ensure there is no trace of Chinese in Tibet. Victory is assured for the Tibetans because the Tibetan terrain is more inhospitable than Afghanistan, where airpower and heavy armament was not of any use and a motley group of bedraggled Afghanis could bring the superpowers to their knees. Additionally, the high altitude of Tibet allows only Tibetans to survive, and any outsiders like the Chinese soldiers find even breathing difficult, let alone fighting.
India need to also realise that border skirmishes with China are only a minor irritant. China has planned graver threats to India and some are already underway. Devastating floods in Northern India are due to accelerated glacial melting in Tibet caused by warmth created by Chinese industrial activity to extract the natural resources of Tibet. With the depletion of the glaciers, India may find all its rivers of Northern India drying up in the next 30 to 40 years. This warmth is also degrading the permafrost of Tibet, decreasing its capacity as a natural carbon sink for atmospheric pollution generated in India. So suffocating smog covers New Delhi and the plains of Northern India. The most alarming Chinese activity in Tibet is multiple dams on the Tsangpo river. This river is the lifeline of North East India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. China by controlling these dams in Tibet can overflood these areas or make them drought-stricken.
Covid-19 has come as a blessing in disguise for India — with the whole world arraigned against China, India should move swiftly to save Tibet to save itself. Such an opportunity may never come again.
About the author
Laden Tshering Samdup is a retired businessman living in Kalimpong. He has MA (Econ) from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Rajasthan, and currently is a consultant and practitioner of Tibetan sorcery.