PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN – THE LEGACY OF RANI PADMINI OF CHITTORGARH
Rani Padmini of Chittorgarh is Living Symbol of Indian National Character that makes me Proud to be an Indian. This Cultural Icon of India cannot be tarnished by fiction writers who have no concern for Historical Facts.
RANI PADMINI AND ALAUDDIN KHILJI: SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION
– Jan 28, 2017, 6:35 pm
If reports are to be believed, filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next, Padmavati, is based on Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s poem Padmavat.
Jayasi’s poem about Padmini and Khilji, however, does not have a historical basis.
Historians have some understanding of what may have happened in that fateful chapter of the lives of Rani Padmini and Alauddin Khilji.
After Bajirao Mastani, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is making another period drama film, Padmavati, this time about Rani Padmini, the queen of Chittorgarh, and Alauddin Khilji, the ruler of Delhi. According to media reports, the film will feature a love story between Padmini and Khilji.
The popular story says that when Khilji attacked Chittor, he fell for Padmini on seeing her reflection in the mirror. This story was woven by a well-known Indian poet, Malik Muhammad Jayasi, in 1540 AD, and finds echo in Jawaharlal Nehru’s Discovery of India as well.
Jayasi’s poem about Padmini and Khilji, however, is not accurate. Historians have, in fact, come up with possible scenarios for what could have actually happened.
According to Jayasi’s poem Padmavat, Rani Padmavati of Chittor was the wife of Raja Ratansen (a name invented by Jayasi with no reference in Mewar history) of Chittor during the reign of Alauddin Khilji. The correct name of Chittor’s then ruler was Rawal Ratan Singh, the thirty-fourth descendant of Bappa Rawal.
What Jayasi’s poem says
There were many talented artists in the court of Ratansen, one of whom was a musician named Raghava Chetan. He was a sorcerer who used his magical powers to target rivals. Once, he was caught red-handed while trying to invoke evil spirits, after which Ratansen banished Raghava from the kingdom after blackening his face. Raghava ran away to Delhi and decided to take revenge by provoking Khilji to attack Chittor.
Raghava knew of a forest near Delhi where Khilji went hunting. One day, he played his flute while Khilji was out hunting. The alluring notes emanating from his flute attracted the attention of Khilji, who then asked his soldiers to fetch the flute player. Thus, Raghava was taken to Khilji’s court.
After reaching Delhi, Raghava told Khilji about the unparalleled beauty of Rani Padmini. That prompted Khilji to attack Chittor, but he found the fort to be heavily defended. So, he laid siege to the fort and forced Ratansen to negotiate with him.
Desperate to capture the beautiful Padmini, Khilji sent a word to Ratansen about him wanting to meet her. The Raja asked Padmini, who flatly refused. However, on being persuaded by her beleaguered husband, Rani Padmini agreed to let Khilji see her in the mirror.
The palace on the right is where Padmini is supposed to have stood. (Sanjeev Nayyar)
Next, Khilji entered the fort with a group of select warriors who had observed the fort’s defenses on their way to the palace. On seeing Padmini in the mirror, Khilji decided that she must be his.
The mirror in Chittor in which Khilji is said to have seen Padmini’s reflection (Sanjeev Nayyar)
While returning to his camp, Khilji deceitfully kidnapped Ratansen and took him as prisoner. Thereafter, he informed the Rajput Sardars that Padmini should be handed over to him if they wanted to see their king alive.
The Rajput generals, led by two gutsy warriors, Gora and Badal, who were related to Padmini, decided to beat Khilji at his game. They sent out a word that Padmini would be handed over the next morning.
At the crack of dawn, 150 palanquins (in which royal ladies were carried in medieval times) left the fort and made their way to Khilji’s camp. The palanquins stopped before a tent where King Ratansen was held prisoner. To his surprise, armed Rajputs jumped out from the palanquins, freed Ratansen and galloped away to Chittor, riding the horses grabbed from Khilji’s stable.
Khilji was furious. He ordered the army to storm Chittorgarh. However, the army could not break into the fort. Due to a prolonged siege, food supplies for the troops were running out. So Ratansen opened the fort gates, and Rajputs rode out to fight. They were overpowered, and achieved martyrdom. Rani Padmini and wives of thousands of warriors preferred jauhar (fire is lit, and women jump into the flames) over losing their honor to Khilji’s army.
Place in Chittor where jauhar was committed (Sanjeev Nayyar)
When Khilji entered the fort, all that he found were ashes of these brave women. Their sacrifice has been kept alive by Bards in their songs, where they praise women who preferred supreme sacrifice to dishonor.
When this author visited Chittorgarh Fort in 2008 and asked the guide about the veracity of the mirror story, he said locals did not believe in it.
Having learnt what Jayasi’s poem says, let us now read what the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s book on Indian History says.
In January 1303, Khilji set out on his memorable campaign for the conquest of Chittor. He received strong resistance from the Rajputs under Rana Ratan Singh. The Rajputs offered heroic resistance for about seven months and then, after the women had perished in the flames of jauhar, the fort surrendered on August 26, 1303.
Whilst later writers like Abu-l Fazl, Haji-ud-Dabir (note these two authors use Padmini not as a name, but as a woman possessing special attributes) have accepted the story that the sole reason for invasion of Chittor was Khilji’s desire to get possession of Padmini, many modern writers are inclined to reject it altogether. They point out that the episode of Padmini was first mentioned by Malik Jayasi in 1540 A.D. in his poem Padmavat, which is a romantic tale rather than historical work. Further, the later day writers who reproduced the story with varying details, flourished long after the event, but their versions differed from one another on essential points.
Yarn 2 by Jayasi
In Padmavat, Jayasi wrote that Padmini was the daughter of Raja Gandharva Sen of Sri Lanka. The Lanka story has many contradictions.
1) The name Raja Gandharva Sen is nowhere found in Sinhalese history. The then Buddhist rulers of Lanka had contacts mainly with the Pandya kings of Tamil Nadu and none with Rajputana. The names of Lanka rulers at the time were Vijayabahu III (1220-24), Bhuvanaikabahu I (1281-83), Interregnum (1283-1302) and Vijayabahu V (1325-26 to 1344-45).
Instead, there is a strong possibility that Padmini was a princess of Jaisalmer or of Sinhala, a village near Sojat in Pali district of Rajasthan. In the history of Rajasthan, there are many references which indicate that Rani Padmini was the eleventh wife of Rawal Ratan Singh among his fifteen wives, as polygamy was prevalent among Rajput rulers then. There is, however, no confirmation of her father being Rana Salsi Tanwar as written in the book The Kingdom of Mewar by Irmgard
Meininger, a German author.
2) In Padmavat, there is a reference to a parrot who flew all the way from Sri Lanka to Chittor as a messenger to inform Raja Ratansen, or Rawal Ratan Singh, about the beauty of Padmini, daughter of the Sinhala ruler Gandharvasen, making Ratansen travel all the way to the Sinhala kingdom to win the hand of Padmini. This narrative lacks credibility since Lanka never had a king by that name.
3) Jayasi wrote this poem almost 237 years after Khilji’s attack on Chittor. The literature of that era is full of highly imaginative narratives, and poets were known to gleefully use metaphors, alliterations and imaginary personifications. There is also a reference in Padmavat to a sorcerer called Raghav Chetan, who is believed to have been personified as a parrot.
Contradictions in Jayasi’s poem
Amir Khusro, the court poet of Khilji, who accompanied him during the Chittor attack, did not write about Padmini, nor did he allude any episode to her in his book Twarikh-e-Allai. To be fair, it is possible that Khusro might not have wanted to further spoil the image of Khilji. So, he ignored the reference to Padmini. “According to Prof Habib, there is a covert allusion to Padmini episode by Khusro in his Khazain-ul-Fatuh, where he mentions the Queen of Sheba.”
Equally important is the fact that Col James Tod did not refer to Khilji’s desire to capture the beautiful Padmini in his book The Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan.
There are many instances in history when court poets and writers have followed the instructions of the ruling kings, and wrote histories accordingly. For instance, the book Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazal, where he was instructed not to write about Mehrunissa’s — later known as Nur Jahan, wife of Mughal King Jahangir — first marriage with an Afghan Pathan. However, there is a mention of her in Tuzuk-e-Jahangari as his beloved, and how his father had cheated on him.
It would not be wrong to say that Jayasi’s poem Padmavat is a figment of his poetic imagination. “It has also been argued that the invasion of Chittor was the natural expansionist policy of Khilji and no Padmini was need for his casus belli“.
The story of Khilji watching Padmini’s reflection in a mirror, or in a well, as stated in Discovery of India by Pandit Nehru, could have been based on a latter-day interpolation by some local poets. It could also be a phony myth popularized by some imaginative storytellers.
Having questioned the motive for Khilji’s invasion of Chittor, “it should be remembered that Khilji’s lust for a Hindu queen is proved by the known instances of Queen Kamala Devi of Gujarat and the daughter of King Ramachandra of Devagiri. The story of Padmini should not be totally rejected as a myth. But it is impossible, at the present state of knowledge, to regard it definitely as a historical fact”.
In Bajirao Mastani, Bhansali told audiences what a brave general Bajirao Peshwa was. It prompted Col (retired) Anil Athale to write ‘Why Bajirao is India’s greatest cavalry general‘. Having assuaged Maratha pride, Bhansali got away with some historical distortions.
In Padmavati, Bhansali is trying to do a balancing act and be secular. Thus, he might tell audiences how romantic the Sultan of Delhi was, that his love for Padmini was as pure as the holy water of Zamzama, and the sexual conquest of beautiful Hindu queens was the last thing on his mind.
According to a report in the Indian Express, it is alleged by Rajput protesters that Bhansali has deliberately added a dream sequence in his movie which shows Khilji embracing and kissing Padmini, which is an affront to the honor and name of Rani Padmini. It is also a slur on the valor of thousands of Hindu Veeranganas who preferred to die by fire rather than submit to the lust of barbaric invaders.
Bhansali might take refuge under the excuse that the film is based on the poem Padmavat, whose historical significance is unconfirmed. But in the poem, there is no mention of the so-called dream sequence. Ultimately, Bhansali might change the name of the movie, like he did with Goliyon ki Raasleela Ram-Leela. Will it satisfy the nationalists?
Either way, the movie will attract protest like we saw in Jaipur recently. A few things for sure — it will get free publicity, be discussed on prime-time television and become the next battleground between the nationalists and votaries of selective freedom of speech.
1. Volume 6 of the History and Culture and Indian People, published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, p 23
2. Rani Padmini – a legendary beauty
3. The Indian Express, 28 January 2017, p 11
Ram Ohri is a former IPS officer and writes regularly on security issues, demographics, and occasionally, on policy.
MARCH OF TIME – INDIA CELEBRATES 68th REPUBLIC DAY
Special Frontier Force does not participate in Republic Day Parade on Raj path, New Delhi. I am pleased to extend Republic Day Greetings to all of my readers.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
68th Republic Day: A celebration of firsts
January 26, 2017
1/768th Republic Day
As India showcased its defense capabilities and rich cultural heritage on the 68th Republic Day, here’s a look at some of the firsts in this year’s celebrations. (TOI photo)
2/7UAE Presidential Guard
The highlight of this year’s parade was a 149-member UAE Presidential Guard comprising servicemen in the Air Force, the Navy and Army. Led by a UAE band consisting of 35 musicians, the contingent marched on the Rajpath and presented a ceremonial salute to the President of India. (TOI photo)
For the first time, a contingent of the National Security Guard (NSG), popularly known as the Black Cat Commandos, participated in the Republic Day parade. (TOI photo)
The parade witnessed the fly-past of three LCA Tejas Aircraft flying at a height of 300 meters from ground in ‘Vic’ formation. (Image courtesy: SpokespersonMoD/Twitter)
5/7Indigenous Defence technology
IAF aircraft equipped with the indigenous Airborne Early Warning & Control System (AEW&C) developed by DRDO also flew past. (TOI photo)
A tableau displaying objectives and benefits of Goods and Services Tax (GST) was also showcased during the parade. GST, which aims to subsume a multitude of taxes, is the single biggest tax reform initiative undertaken since Independence.
7/7Tricolour on Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building located in Dubai, will be lit up in the colors of the Indian National flag on Wednesday and Thursday to celebrate India’s 68th Republic Day. (Image courtesy: Burj Khalifa/Twitter)
Copyright © 2016 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.
RESIST AUTHORITARIAN, AUTOCRATIC GOVERNANCE – TIBETAN RESISTANCE MOVEMENT
I have lifetime affiliation to Tibetan Resistance Movement for I belong to a military organization called Special Frontier Force. I am also a Member of a Group called Greenpeace Ann Arbor Alumni for I worked for Greenpeace USA for ten years at its Ann Arbor location until it got closed due to budget constraints.
For the first time in the history of Greenpeace Organization, it is advocating Resistance to Authoritarian, or Autocratic Governance to achieve its Mission to defend Environment. Resistance is a tactic used by people to win Political Freedom or to overthrow dictatorial regimes unacceptable to people. Greenpeace Protest asking people to “RESIST” goes beyond its usual advocacy for Environment. It demands people to Resist the Ruler even though Greenpeace has no political agenda to promote any Political Party.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
GREENPEACE PROTEST NEAR THE WHITE HOUSE – THE WASHINGTON POST
Clipped from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/handful-of-protesters-climb-270-foot-tall-crane-in-downtown-dc-disrupt-traffic/2017/01/25/a9346920-e2ff-11e6-ba11-63c4b4fb5a63_story.html?utm_term=.7c38edaadc6e&wpisrc=nl_todayworld&wpmm=1#comments
A banner saying “Resist” is visible over the roof of the White House on Wednesday. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)
Activists affiliated with Greenpeace climbed atop a 270-foot construction crane in downtown Washington on Wednesday and unfurled a large orange and black banner with a message positioned for the newest occupant of the White House but meant for those opposed to its agenda: “Resist.”
D.C. police waited out the seven protesters, shutting down traffic at a major intersection through the morning commute and into the evening and suspending work on new offices for Fannie Mae at 15th and L streets NW.
The action is one of several protests in the District since just before the presidential inauguration, and more are planned in the coming weeks.
By Wednesday evening, the protesters, all expert climbers, according to Greenpeace, and dressed with helmets and safety harnesses, had rolled up the 35-foot-by-75-foot banner but had not begun to descend a steep stairway to the ground, where police were waiting to arrest them.
At about 10 p.m., the seven activists came off the crane — about 18 hours after they started their climb — and were taken into custody. They were charged with second-degree burglary, unlawful entry, and destruction of property.
Five protesters spent the day on the arm, or jib, of the crane, while two chained themselves to the tower, blocking potential arrest efforts by police and preventing the crane operator from reaching the controls. They started their ascent about 4 a.m. and by 9 a.m. had unfurled the banner, using safety ropes to descend from the arm.
Greenpeace, an international environmental group, said the organization was protesting the Trump administration and the president’s decision to push forward with the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.
On Wednesday, dozens of onlookers gathered, clutching coffee cups and peering upward at the site, the location of the former Washington Post headquarters. Greenpeace said it chose the location because the hanging banner could be seen a half-mile away at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Firefighters from Rescue 1, the department’s elite rescue team, were on standby if needed, but police preferred to let the protest proceed. Police Capt. Robert Glover of the special operations team said investigators had the ability to talk with at least one of the demonstrators and were in contact with Greenpeace.
“Safety is our primary concern,” Glover said early into the demonstration. “Time is on our side.”
D.C. police did not discuss possible charges, saying that would be left up to the U.S. attorney’s office.
One of the protesters, Pearl Robinson, 26, of Oakland, Calif., identified herself as an expert climber and said in a phone interview from atop the crane, “We’re here to resist the normalization of this [Trump] administration.”
Robinson, a national organizer for the Rainforest Action Network, noted that live-streams of the protest were trending on social media, which she called a success. She said some of President Trump’s recent executive orders were “a slap in the face” to U.S. residents.
Cassady Sharp, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, a group known for activism that sometimes involves confronting authorities and corporations, said the organization wanted “to send a message to the people who are feeling discouraged after just a few days of Trump’s administration.” She said protesters were from around the country, including New York, San Francisco and the Washington area.
Lee DeLong, a senior vice president for Bethesda-based Clark Construction, the lead contractor for the Fannie Mae building project, said workers discovered the protesters about 6 a.m. and called police. He said the group broke into the secured site by breaking a lock, adding that getting into the crane and up onto the arm requires knowledge of how a crane works.
“These aren’t amateurs,” DeLong said.
He said he supports the decision by police to not send officers and firefighters up the crane to pull the protesters off, calling that a dangerous maneuver.
“Our primary concern is safety,” DeLong said. “I think the police and EMS response has been appropriate.”
DeLong said some workers could reach part of the construction site’s perimeter, but most work was halted for the day. He said the crane will need to be inspected before it can be put back into use. He would not say how much money the company is losing but said, “It is a significant impact.”
Protesters with Greenpeace climb a crane in downtown D.C. (Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post)
Erica White, 39, who lives around the block from the site, said she was out walking when she saw the banner. “It’s got to be crippling for people to not be able to come down L Street. It definitely sends a message, for sure.” She backed the message: “People are going to hold his feet to the fire. They’re not going to back down.”
Dawn Reed, 35, who works in information technology in Arlington, said: “I wish Trump would take notice of it. But I don’t think he’s going to care.” She also said she supported Greenpeace. “I just had a baby, and I want her to grow up in a world that’s not polluted.”
One of the Greenpeace activists who climbed a crane at a construction site in downtown Washington to protest President Trump’s environmental policies live streamed from atop the crane. A Greenpeace activist who climbed a crane at a construction site in downtown Washington to protest President Trump’s environmental policies live streamed it. (Facebook/Greenpeace)
Steve VanAusdall, 50, who works at a nearby construction site, was trying to exit a parking garage to go home but was blocked in by police vehicles. He said the garage was also hurt financially because it could not let in additional vehicles.
“I’m all for freedom of speech and protesting peacefully and lawfully, but these guys could be here for two days,” VanAusdall said Wednesday morning. “It’s going to be a long waiting game, I’m afraid.”
VanAusdall said that he was trying to get to another job in North Carolina on Thursday and that the delay was costing him. “This is hurting people financially,” he said.
Wednesday’s protest comes after Trump’s inauguration last week, when demonstrators were present in large numbers throughout the city, particularly near Franklin Square, where windows of businesses were smashed and a limousine was set on fire.
More than 230 people were arrested Friday. Many were charged with felony rioting.
Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.
Protesters with Greenpeace climb a crane in downtown D.C. (Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post)
REALITY OF DALAI LAMA REINCARNATION vs RED CHINA’S MISCHIEF IN TIBET
Reality of Dalai Lama Reincarnation becomes Self-Evident after fully accounting for Red China’s Mischief in Tibet.
DOOM DOOMA DOOMSAYER
DALAI LAMA GETS MISCHIEVOUS – THE NEW YORK TIMES
The Dalai Lama a week before his 80th birthday. Credit Will Oliver/European Pressphoto Agency
The Dalai Lama, who may be the only octogenarian spiritual leader with a profoundly mischievous streak, has a suggestion for China’s Communist leaders: Take up reincarnation.
I’m interviewing him in his hotel room in Manhattan, at the end of an overseas tour marking his 80th birthday, and we’re talking about what happens after he dies. He is the 14th Dalai Lama, each considered a reincarnation of the previous one, and usually after one has died a search is undertaken for an infant to become the next. But he has said that he may be the last of the line, or that the next Dalai Lama might emerge outside Tibet — or might even be a girl.
This talk infuriates Beijing, which is determined to choose the next Dalai Lama (to use as a tool to control Tibet). So, startlingly, the atheists in the Chinese Communist Party have been insisting that Buddhist reincarnation must continue.
“The Chinese Communist Party is pretending that they know more about the reincarnation system than the Dalai Lama,” said the Dalai Lama, laughing. “The Chinese Communists should accept the concept of rebirth. Then they should recognize the reincarnation of Chairman Mao Zedong, then Deng Xiaoping. Then they have the right to involve themselves in the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.”
The Dalai Lama hinted that he would hold some kind of referendum among Tibetan exiles, and consultations among Tibetans within China, about whether a new Dalai Lama should succeed him. The issue will be formally resolved around his 90th birthday, he said.
One reason to end the line, he suggested, is that a future Dalai Lama might be “naughty” and diminish the position. His biggest concern seems to be that after he dies, China will select a new pet Dalai Lama who may act as a quisling to help the Chinese control Tibet and to give legitimacy to their policies there.
“Sadly, the precedent has been set,” he said, referring to the Panchen Lama, the second most important reincarnated lama in Tibetan Buddhism. After the 10th Panchen Lama died in 1989, China kidnapped the baby chosen by Tibetans as his successor and helped anoint a different child as the 11th Panchen Lama. Nobody knows what happened to the real Panchen Lama.
I admire the Dalai Lama enormously, and in 2007 he bravely used my column to send an important olive branch to Beijing — only to be criticized by fellow Tibetans as too conciliatory, and rejected as insincere by China. But I told him that I also thought there were times when he had been too cautious and had missed opportunities for rapprochement with Beijing. My examples: In the 1980s, when the leaders Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang sought compromise on Tibet; after the 10th Panchen Lama died; and in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.
The Dalai Lama was having none of that — he doesn’t think he missed opportunities. But he acknowledged that Zhao had been sympathetic and added that if Zhao and Hu had not been ousted, “the Tibetan issue would already be solved, no question.”
To my surprise, the Dalai Lama was also enthusiastic about Xi Jinping, the current Chinese leader. He spoke admiringly of Xi’s anticorruption campaign, said Xi’s mother was “very religious, a very devout Buddhist,” and noted Xi himself had spoken positively of Buddhism.
So, President Xi, if you’re reading this, the Dalai Lama would like to visit China. How about an invitation?
I had asked my followers on Twitter and Facebook to suggest questions for the Dalai Lama, and here are his responses to some of the issues they raised:
• On the Myanmar Buddhists who have murdered, raped and oppressed Muslims: As he has before, the Dalai Lama strongly condemned the violence. He added: “If Buddha would come at that moment, he definitely would save or protect those Muslims.”
• On eating meat: The Dalai Lama said he had been a pure vegetarian for 20 months but then developed jaundice, so his doctors told him to start eating meat again. He now eats meat twice a week and is vegetarian the rest of the week, he said, but added that he thinks vegetarianism is preferable.
• On Pope Francis: “I admire his stance,” the Dalai Lama said. “He dismissed one German bishop [for too luxurious living]. I was so impressed. I wrote a letter to him. I expressed my admiration.”
• On gender: The Dalai Lama says he considers himself a feminist and would like to see more women leaders because he thinks women are often innately more sensitive and peaceful. “I insist that women should carry a more active role,” he said. “If eventually most of the leaders of different nations are female, maybe we’ll be safer.”
NO DALAI LAMA REINCARNATION WITHOUT FREEDOM IN OCCUPIED TIBET
As Tibet remains under Red China’s military occupation without Freedom, Dalai Lama “REINCARNATION” remains Impossible. To restore normalcy in Tibetan National Life, Military Occupier must be evicted from Tibetan Territory. The Disease called ‘Occupation’ is the Cause and no Reincarnation is its Effect.
WHY THE DALAI LAMA SAYS REINCARNATION MIGHT NOT BE FOR HIM – LA TIMES
Adherents of Tibetan Buddhism believe the Dalai Lama, the religion’s highest spiritual authority, has been reincarnated in an unbroken line for centuries. But the current Dalai Lama says he may be the last.
In an interview with the BBC this week, the 79-year-old Nobel Peace Prize recipient said that he may not reincarnate after he dies.
“There is no guarantee that some stupid Dalai Lama won’t come next, who will disgrace himself or herself,” he said. “That would be very sad. So, much better that a centuries-old tradition should cease at the time of a quite popular Dalai Lama.”
But what does reincarnation mean, and why would the Dalai Lama not want to have a successor?
How do Tibetan Buddhists believe reincarnation works?
Tibetan Buddhism teaches that after death, nearly all of us are flung back into the world of the living under the influence of harmful impulses and desires. But through compassion and prayer, a few can choose the time, place and the parents to whom they return. This affirms Buddhist teachings that one’s spirit can return to benefit humanity; it also serves to maintain a strong theological and political structure based around monasticism and celibacy.
The process through which reincarnated Buddhist masters, known as “tulkus,” are discovered is not uniform among the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. But generally, through dreams, signals, and other clues, senior monks identify candidates from a pool of boys born around the time the previous incarnation died. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th in the line of the Gelug school. The son of a farmer, he was recognized in 1950 after he correctly picked out objects owned by his predecessor, such as a bowl and prayer beads, jumbled among unfamiliar items.
So why would the Dalai Lama refuse to reincarnate?
Almost certainly to prevent the Chinese government from inserting itself into the process for political ends. Tibet was incorporated into China more than 60 years ago; the Dalai Lama went into exile in India in 1959 amid a revolt. China’s government has denounced him as a separatist, but the Dalai Lama currently says he only seeks a high degree of autonomy for Tibet.
In the mid-1990s, the Dalai Lama identified a 6-year-old boy as the Panchen Lama, a position second only to the Dalai Lama himself. But Chinese authorities took custody of the child, and his whereabouts remain unclear. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities identified another youth as the Panchen Lama, but he never won the trust of Tibetans.
In 2011, the Dalai Lama wrote: “Should the concerned public express a strong wish for the Dalai Lamas to continue, there is an obvious risk of vested political interests misusing the reincarnation system to fulfill their own political agenda.” He said then that he would reevaluate whether the custom should go on when he was in his 90s.
Why the statement now?
In fact, the Dalai Lama has claimed that as early as 1969 he made clear that the Tibetan people should decide whether reincarnations should continue. He has previously stated that he would not reincarnate in Tibet if it were not free, and he has mused that the Tibetan people should select their religious leaders democratically. To that effect, he has already divested the political power of his role to an elected official, based in India.
In September, the Dalai Lama stepped up his rhetoric on this point, raising the suggestion that he might be the last of his line. “If a weak Dalai Lama comes along, it will just disgrace the Dalai Lama,” he told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
What do Chinese authorities say?
After the Dalai Lama’s statement in September, the Chinese government issued a firm rebuttal. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, “The title of Dalai Lama is conferred by the central government.” China, which is officially atheist, will follow “set religious procedure and historic custom” to select a successor, she said.
Other officials have followed suit. “Only the central government can decide on keeping, or getting rid of, the Dalai Lama’s lineage, and the 14th Dalai Lama does not have the final say,” Zhu eiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of a high-ranking advisory body to China’s parliament, told the state-run Global Times newspaper this week. “All [the Dalai Lama] can do is use his religious title to write about the continuation or not of the Dalai Lama to get eyeballs overseas.”
What happens next?
It’s unclear what will happen when the Dalai Lama dies, but the decision is a sensitive one that will put pressure on the Chinese government.
If the Chinese government does select a successor, its choice could be rejected by Tibetans, and that could exacerbate strained relations.
But the Dalai Lama has made nonviolence a key tenet of his teachings, and losing him – and any reincarnation – could also be risky.
Wu Chuke, a professor of social science at Beijing’s Ethnic Studies University, said that if the position is left empty, “many of the Tibetan Buddhists in China will feel like that the not being able to be reincarnated will be due to restrictions from the government and will further damage the relationship between them. This will put new pressure on the Chinese government in how they will deal with this problem.”
Silbert is a special correspondent.
REMEMBERING PRIME MINISTER ZHOU ENLAI – DIED ON JANUARY 08, 1976
Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai died on January 08, 1976. On January 08, 2017, Zhou’s 41st Death Anniversary, I disclose that I keep Zhou Enlai alive in my thoughts for Tibet is still under Military Occupation. I will bury my thoughts of Prime Minister Zhou Enlai when the Military Occupier of Tibet gets evicted from Tibet.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA 48104 – 4162.
Chinese leader Zhou Enlai dies
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Zhou Enlai, premier of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1949, dies of cancer at age 77. Zhou was second to Mao Zedong, the leader of the revolution that brought a communist regime to China, in terms of importance in the PRC. Beyond his significance as a leader of communist China, Zhou was instrumental in the negotiations that resulted in the U.S. recognition of the PRC in 1979.
Zhou was born in 1898, and he was heavily involved in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by the 1920s. He rose quickly through the party ranks and became one of Mao Zedong’s most trusted advisors, particularly valued for his skill at negotiations and diplomacy. These skills were crucial during the 1930s, when the CCP found it necessary to collaborate with its enemy, the Chinese Nationalists, to oppose Japanese aggression. In 1949, the CCP was victorious in its civil war against the Nationalists and Zhou was appointed premier and foreign minister of the new government.
During the 1950s, he represented China at various diplomatic gatherings, including the 1954 Geneva Conference and the 1955 Asian-African Conference in Bandung. He was also a stabilizing force inside China during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution and its resultant political tensions.
In the early 1970s, Zhou embarked on a program to rebuild relations with the United States, which had refused to recognize the Chinese communist government. In 1972, he and President Richard Nixon shocked the world by meeting and agreeing to work for closer political and economic relations between the two nations. These talks eventually did bear fruit in 1979, when the United States formally recognized the PRC.
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BEIJING DOOMED – SMOG PRECEDES APOCALYPTIC FIRE
Choking Air Pollution in Beijing is nicknamed the “Airpocalypse” by foreign news media. In my analysis, Smog is symptom of Plague that will cause sudden, unexpected, Downfall of Evil Red China Empire. The word ‘EVIL’ means Catastrophe, Disaster, Doom, or Apocalypse.
Ann Arbor, MI, USA 48104 – 4162.
‘A DAY IN THE LIFE OF BEIJING’S APOCALYPTIC SMOG’
By Simon Denyer, The Washington Post
Over the New Year weekend, a wave of smog rolled into China’s capital city of Beijing. Residents here are calling it “airpocalypse,” as the skies darken and air quality is rated at hazardous levels. Even digital pollution meters in homes rated the indoor air-quality as poor. Despite a ‘War on Pollution,’ Beijing is facing its smoggiest days yet (Simon Denyer, Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)
The smog is rolling in over Beijing. We are about to experience what the foreign media have nicknamed the “airpocalypse” — another days-long episode of choking air pollution. In fact, this is the second one in just three weeks.
In central Beijing on Monday, life is going on as normal. In Ritan Park, couples are enjoying an afternoon of ballroom dancing out in the open, while others are playing cards. But that’s about to change.
We use a scale called the Air Quality Index to measure how polluted the air is on any given day. According to the phone app I use, air quality is “good,” posing no significant health risk if the reading stays under 50. If it rises above 300, the air is officially “hazardous.” That means it could cause “irritations and adverse health effects that could trigger illnesses.” Everyone is advised to avoid exercise and remain indoors.
By Tuesday evening, the Air Quality Index is more than 700 in some parts of the capital. That’s close to a record high.
A huge shroud of polluted air has settled over much of China, and it’s set to stay for days. The main source of pollution — the worst pollution cluster in the world, in fact — is the industrial heartland of Hebei, the province that surrounds Beijing. Steel and cement factories burn huge quantities of coal as China tries to keep its economy fired up.
The air filters are on full blast inside my house, but the air quality monitor says I should still be wearing a mask, even indoors. I am usually pretty relaxed about air pollution — probably too relaxed — but this is starting to bug me. My wife and daughter are asleep upstairs, and I can feel the pollution in my lungs. I have a slight headache.
(Simon Denyer/The Washington Post)
Outside, it’s even worse. On nights like this, you really feel like you are living in a dystopian nightmare.
On Wednesday morning, the sky seems a little bluer outside my house. I am hoping to play soccer tonight, but we will call off the game if the AQI is over 300. To cover my bases, I bring my soccer kit and my mask to work.
(Simon Denyer/The Washington Post)
But as I drive to work, you can barely see the tower blocks looming out of the smog. It’s not looking good.
As the day wears on, my foreign journalist friends in Beijing start to sound exasperated. At the Financial Times, Tom Mitchell tweets that, for the first time, a contact has suggested meeting at home rather than in a restaurant. The contact is worried the restaurant may not have air filters.
DPA’s Joanna Chiu reports that many air purifiers are out of stock, but she and her cat are safe in the midst of their three machines at home.
The Globe and Mail’s Nathan VanderKlippe is frustrated: It should be the second day back at school for his twin boys, but classes have been called off because of the smog. (The following day will be called off too.) The year, he sarcastically observes, is “off to a tremendous start.”
CNN’s national security correspondent Jim Sciutto tweets this “otherworldly” image of the city seen from the air. Someone points out that the buildings look like tombstones.
On the streets, some people wear masks, but many don’t. Middle-class Beijingers say they have air purifiers in their homes, but they complain to us that the smog is stopping them exercising outdoors, jogging or cycling. One man says he is worried about his elderly parents, and he has told them not to go grocery shopping. A mother says her children have been stuck indoors for more than a week, and they aren’t happy.
It’s even worse for the poorer members of society. A woman selling toys on the street says business is depressed by the smog, but she has no choice but to be out there. A street cleaner says the mask distributed by his work unit helps. Without it, he’d have a sore throat at the end of the day.
It’s 5 p.m. and the AQI is still over 300. Soccer has been canceled, which really gets me down. I make revised plans to play on Sunday morning instead — if the smog lifts by then.
Jin Xin and Luna Lin contributed to this report. Video of the smog rolling in courtesy of Chas Pope.