Dalai Lama turns 85 as Tibetan hopes dwindle
By Indira Guerrero
New Delhi, Jul 6 (efe-epa).- Dalai Lama turned 85 years old on Monday at his official residence in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala, as the hope for answers in Tibet appears to dwindle with his advancing age.
The world is no longer the same as it was in 2015, when the smiling monk appeared on stage at the Glastonbury Festival before a euphoric crowd of tens of thousands of people to celebrate his 80th birthday.
This year, holed up at residence in Dharamsala, in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the spiritual leader chose to send a video message to members of the Tibetan community on his birthday.
“Today is July 6th, my birthday. It’s not possible for large numbers of people to hold a big celebration because of restrictions due to the pandemic and it’s not necessary either,” said the Dalai Lama in a video message on his website.
“However, if you want to celebrate my birthday, I’d like to ask you to recite the Mani mantra (Om Mani Padme Hung), at least a thousand times,” he added.
These purifying prayers, he claimed, would help him “to live for 108 or 110 years or so,” and concluded wishing the happiness and well-being of everyone.
Amid the social isolation caused by the global pandemic, the Dalai Lama sought to celebrate his 85th birthday through camera lenses in what the authorities of the Tibetan government in exile have called “The Year of Gratitude,” the office of His Holiness informed EFE.
On this occasion, the well-known Tibetan activist in India, Tenzin Tsundue, reflected on the life of Lhamo Dhondup – the birth name of the 14th Dalai Lama – and was critical of the passivity of the leader, a kindness that has made him a universal figure but extinguished hopes for Tibet.
Tsundue recalled that in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, protests for the independence of Tibet, in which hundreds of Tibetan monks died, led to calls for boycott of the global sporting event from leaders and activists at different levels.
“I also felt that the boycott would teach the Chinese a lesson,” the activist told EFE.
“But His Holiness the Dalai Lama said ‘China deserves a good Olympics’ and this relieved the world leaders and that’s how His Holiness saved China that year. His Holiness’s compassion transcends his country and his people, he thinks for the world,” he underlined.
“He is truly a Buddha. That’s why the younger generation Tibetans love and respect him all the more,” he added.
The Tibetan Buddhist leader who walked across the Himalayas into India in 1959, after a failed popular revolt in Lhasa against Chinese rule, still remains the hope of six million Tibetans against China, which exercises control over Tibet.
For Tsundue, the chances for the Dalai Lama to become the face of a revolution is progressively diminishing.
“Bringing mutual respect among the warring sectarian religious factions is perhaps his single contribution as this helped him sew biggest sense of unity among Tibetans who are otherwise divided among four sects of Tibetan Buddhist tradition,” reflected the activist.
The legacy and future of the position of the Dalai Lama, which according to Buddhist tradition happens through a “reincarnation” of the same soul, has been marked by a sense of unknown and uncertainty.
China, in what has been regarded by experts as the most absurd act of authoritarianism in history, banned the “reincarnation” of Lhamo’s successor, and plans to appoint the 15th Dalai Lama.
A Dalai Lama chosen by China will serve the Communist Party to consolidate control over the region.
The last time the succession process took place was in 1937, when a two-year-old Lhamo, born to a family of farmers in a village in Tibet, was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama.