The spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, crossed the border into India on early March 1959. 10 March 2019 will commemorate the 60 anniversary of that epic escape into India that followed with more than one million deaths during the Chinese invasion. From India he reconstructed the Tibetan administration running a Parliament, hospitals, reception centers for refugees, Old People´s Home, various settlements, schools, etc.).
For his non violence principles he was conferred the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. The 30th anniversary of this conferment will be on December 2019.
These pictures are a document of the Tibetan Identity of thousands who follow his spiritual leader into exile.
Five Tibetans after crossing Nangpa La pass.
Nangpa La (5,806 m) is a high mountain pass crossing the Himalayas and the Nepal-Tibet Autonomous Region border a few kilometres west of Cho Oyu and some 30 km northwest of Mount Everest. A foot-trail over Nangpa La is the traditional trade and pilgrimage route connecting Tibetans and Sherpas of Khumbu.
In 2006, Chinese border guards of the People’s Armed Police (PAP) opened fire on 75 unarmed Tibetan refugees as they traversed waist-deep snow in the Nangpa La shooting incident, killing 17-year-old Buddhist nun Kelsang Namtso and leading to the disappearance of a further 17 refugees. Despite an attempted Chinese coverup, several foreign climbers at base camps on Cho Oyu managed to video and photograph the situation as it unfolded and the events drew widespread international condemnation when shown to the outside world.
Tibetan nurse Tenzin Yankyi at the old Reception Center in Kathmandu (Nepal) is looking after three new arrival kids affected by frostbite after crossing Nanpa La pass escaping from Tibet.
The kid on the left was operated by a severe stomac infection. The othe two have lost part of their feet due to frostbite.
Today the Tibetan Reception Center for refugees built in Dharamsala by Tibetan exile authorities wears a desolate look. Its big dormitories with bunk beds were meant to house 500, but in recent years they lie mostly unused.
This facility was meant to be a transit stop for the over 2500/3500 Tibetans who every year clandestinely crossed over high mountains from China into Nepal and then onto Dharamshala, the home of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, since fleeing Tibet in 1959.
There were three reception centers in Kathmandu, Delhi and Dharamsala: the way into exile.
Samden, at the old Reception Center in Kathmandu (Nepal), is going to lose all his frostbitten toes after crossing Nanpa La pass (5,806 m) after escaping from Tibet.
Kunchok Tenzin (15) was seriously burnt in Tibet. He was living at the Tibetan Reception Center after escaping from Tibet two years and a half before. Every four months he needed a skin graft with the help of RHEST (Rural Help Education Service Trust), an Australian NGO that works on the fields of education, health and enviroment in the Himalaya region.
Sonam (91) came from Tsona (Tibet) guiding the Dalai Lama and his entourage until Tawang when escaping from Tibet in 1959. His four days journey went trough Chodungma, Shakti, Lumla, Thonglek and finally Tawang.
Once in Tawang he stayed in a Tibetan settlement close by the main monastery and helped to build another small monastery in the settlement. He never went back to Tibet.
Naren Chandra Das (85) was a 22 years old soldier of Assam Rifles when he was sent along with another seven soldiers to Shakti, a small village close to the Tibetan border, to protect the Dalai Lama who has escaped from Tibet and entered India in 1959.
Naren is the only who remained alive from those members of Assam Rifles and was embraced by the Dalai Lama in april 2017 in Guwahati almost 60 years later as a thankful way of recognition. Naren hasn´t seen the Dalai lama since then and was very emotional for being embraced by the Dalai Lama.
After serving most of his life in the Indian Army he retired with five medals. His two sons tried several times to join the army unsuccesfully. Naren Chandra Das would be happy if his unemployed sons could get a job.
The Dalai Lama prays during Kalachakra initiation in Ki monastery, Spiti (India).
Kalachakra is one of many tantric teachings and esoteric practices in Tibetan Buddhism. Today, Kalachakra is practiced by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, although it appears most prominently in the Gelug lineage, the one of the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lamas have had specific interest in this practice, particularly the First, Second, Seventh, Eighth, and the current (Fourteenth) Dalai Lamas. The present Dalai Lama has given more than thirty Kalachakra initiations all over the world, and is the most prominent Kalachakra lineage holder alive today.
The Kalachakra sand Mandala is dedicated to both individual and world peace and physical balance. The Dalai Lama explains: “It is a way of planting a seed, and the seed will have karmic effect. One doesn’t need to be present at the Kalachakra ceremony in order to receive its benefits.”
Handprints of the Dalai Lama at Dorje Khandu Memorial Museum (Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India).
Singer Yungchen Lhamo left Tibet in 1989 crossing the Himalayas on foot and since then brings his traditional songs and his support to the Buddhist cause all over the world. First she settled in Dharamsala, known as the official residence of the Dalai Lama, then emigrated to Australia, where he published his first album, and now lives in New York.
Since 2004, the singer helps her country through a foundation, the Yungchen Lhamo Charitable Foundation, with which she supports single mothers, children and the mentally ill . “We have different projects with which we send supplies and build rooms so children can study. The foundation also provides shelter for the mentally ill and people in need. Music is very present in all my initiatives, it is something that unites,” she explains.
Yungchen had the privilege of being signed by Peter Gabriel to his recording company, Real World Records. She sung at Carnegie Hall on two occasions with musicians such as Philip Glass, Michael Stipe, Natalie Merchant among others. She was invited by Laurie Anderson to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London, sharing the stage with Sir Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Lou Reed, Salman Rushdie and Robert Wilson.
Palden Gyatso prays at Dalai Lama´s Tsuglagkhang temple in McLeod Ganj, India, for self-inmolated Lobsang Thomkey.
During the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Palden Gyatso was arrested for protesting and spent 33 years in prisons and labor camps in Chinese controlled Tibet where he was brutally tortured. After his release in 1992, he escaped through the Himalaya and went into exile in Dharamsala (northern India). From then until his death, he continued to profess Buddhism and to develop a certain political activism, spreading the cause of Tibet on his travels around the world. He wrote the book Fire under the Snow, his autobiography, which has since been translated into many languages and was the subject of a film in 2008.
He testified before the Spanish Audiencia Nacional (National High Court) as a victim of the Tibetan genocide. Later the reform of the Universal Justice law proposed by the government of Mariano Rajoy condemns to the archive the investigations on the repression in the region.
Palden Gyatso died in Dharamsala the 30th November 2018.