The 7th Dalai Lama

By Christian Schmidt

1708_____Kelsang Gyatso, the 7th Dalai Lama, is born into yet another political vacuum. Dsungars penetrate into Lhasa, where they murder the Mongolian titular king Lhabzang and depose the Mongolian’s usurper to the position of 6th Dalai Lama. Their attempt to gain control over the 7th Dalai Lama fails, however: the child has already been prophylactically taken to the Chinese border region, where it is to spend its youth under the strict eye of imperial troops.

1720_____The new Dalai Lama, 12 years old, enters Lhasa escorted by Chinese troops. Calm returns almost instantly. He is given his new name, Kelsang Gyatso or “Ocean of Bliss”, and begins to impress his followers with his extraordinary intelligence and aptitude: it takes him only a few months to complete a training programme others would have needed years for.

1727_____The Dalai Lama is forced by the unrest to leave Potala Palace. He spends six years in exile in Kashdag Monastery, a fortress on the eastern border of the country.

1733_____The Dalai Lama returns to Lhasa, but there is still no peace. The Dalai Lama tries to provide comfort, and composes poetry begging for freedom for his land from the secular struggle for power: but in vain, as the contest between China and Mongolia for domination of Tibet flares up again and again. In the end China is yet again the winner. The Dalai Lama is able once more to function as both secular and religious head of state, but he feels his influence waning.

1757_____The Dalai Lama withdraws for several months to the Lake of Visions, where he dies at the end of March, at the age of 48.