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Monday, 21 February, 2000, 15:51 GMT
Ask the Dalai Lama




The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, will be answering your questions in a BBC News Online forum.

Last week he celebrated the 60th anniversary of his enthronement by calling for greater efforts to end Chinese rule over Tibet.

To read more about the Dalai Lama, click here.

If you would like to e-mail a question to the Dalai Lama, click here.


Who is the Dalai Lama?

The Dalai Lama was born Tenzin Gyatso in north-eastern Tibet on 6 July, 1935.

He was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama and brought up in the Potala Palace in the capital, Lhasa.

In 1950, the 15-year-old assumed full responsibility as the head of the Tibetan state - the same year that 80,000 Chinese troops poured into the mountain kingdom.

After a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled across the border to India. Tens of thousands of his people followed.

Beijing has sought to control all religious activities in Tibet, and banned all references to the Dalai Lama.

The Chinese say the Dalai Lama is seeking an independent Tibet, although he has denied this, saying he is just calling for a peaceful solution through talks with China.

Modernising Tibetan Buddhism

The Dalai Lama has said he wants to modernise Tibetan Buddhism, to ensure devotion to the principles rather than the rituals of Buddhism.

The religious leader first travelled overseas in 1973 on a landmark visit to Europe - the first by a Tibetan spiritual leader.

In 1989, he won the Nobel Peace Prize, which he accepted "on behalf of the oppressed everywhere."

The Tibetan cause has received a lot of publicity from Hollywood films, such as Kundun, and celebrities including actor Richard Gere.

But although this media interest has helped boost awareness of the issue in world consciousness, some films have been accused of over-romanticising Tibetan society.

Courting controversy

Last month the Dalai Lama refused to recognise the legitimacy of a two-year old boy lama, ordained as the reincarnation of the Sixth Reting Rinpoche by Chinese-approved monks in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

The Reting is significant as one of the few Tibetan lamas who can act as regent in the absence of the Dalai Lama, who held political power in Tibet before the Communists took power.

Correspondents say the newly-ordained lama could become an important part of China's campaign to assert its control over the Himalayan region.

His ordainment followed the surprise arrival of the 14-year-old Karmapa Lama in India, in defiance of Chinese authorities.

The Karmapa is the most senior spiritual authority recognised by both the Chinese and the Dalai Lama. Analysts say his decision to flee came as a major blow and embarrassment to China.



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See also:
18 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Dalai Lama marks 60 years
17 Jan 00 |  South Asia
New boy lama rejected
16 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Karmapa Lama 'to stay in India'

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