Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tibetan Independence: Testimonies from Two Professors & a Bird

Let's try and be brief, because frankly I'm in a hurry.  And I fear you may not be ready to give me much of your time, either. With the Tibet issue proving it's not going away, there are a lot of people eager to think with their feet, which is understandable given the deep investments we have and have had in Tibet for a very long time. (Don't have the slightest what that talk about 'trendiness' is supposed to mean, do you?) Still, I think we ought to use our heads and consider carefully what we ought to be doing and why.  In internet discussions these days, nothing whips those PRC nationalists into quite as much of a lather as the mere mention of the word 'independence' in the same sentence with Tibet.  Even the TGIE ("Tibet Government in Exile" in Dharamsala, India) is troubled to hear it. It makes them uncomfortable. In the TAR, pronouncing in public the modern Tibetan word for it, Rangtsen/Rangzen (rang-btsan), may be one of your quickest tickets to a long holiday in a place where there won't be any jacuzzis or complimentary massages, believe you me (or if you don't, visit Amnesty International).  

There are those who lay down the groundwork for discussion by saying that the question of just how autonomous Tibet might have been during its long history is an unanswerable one, better avoided.  I would suggest that the situation is hardly all that bleak.  Experts on Tibetan history (and by that I mean experts free to come to their own conclusions and not constrained to repeat the party line) are actually in remarkably close agreement about the general outlines of the history of Sino-Tibetan relations.  To the best of my knowledge everyone agrees that Tibet was in fact (in Latin, de facto) independent from 1912 through 1949 (or 1951).  This means that the Tibetan government in Lhasa believed in its own independence, proclaimed its independence, and conducted itself independently and therefore, for all intents and purposes, was independent.  Maybe you are familiar with the expression "If it walks like a duck"?  It does not mean that any country other than Mongolia recognized its independence in an official way (see Mehra for the classic study). Hmm... Mongolia was also within the Manchu sphere (like Tibet, never ever made into a province of China; yes, OK, Inner Mongolia, but let's not get into that now), but it's an independent country today.  Why might that be?

Historians of Tibet are also aware that Tibet fell within the orbits of power of the Mongolian Yuan and the Manchu Qing dynasties. They differ on the degrees to which Tibetan rulers were beholden to the Mongolian and Manchu rulers of China during those times. Still, not one of them would deny that in certain times and in certain matters Mongols and Manchus were able to exert some influence on the governance of Tibet.

The PRC once claimed (and very occasionally still does claim) that Chinese control over Tibet originated in the Tang Dynasty when a few Chinese princesses were used to seal matrimonial alliances between the two countries.  I understand that it is still very risky for Tibetan intellectuals in the TAR  ("Tibet Autonomous Region") to mention that there ever was a matrimonial alliance with Nepal, which could then lead to a collapse in the logic, since then Tibet would have become part of Nepal, or half part of Nepal... Regardless of all that, it's just the case that securing a matrimonial alliance with China was not a sign of Tibetan weakness or submission, just the contrary.  It was a sign of Tibetan power and influence.

It is generally agreed that Sakya Pandita was the main Tibetan responsible for Tibet's submission to Mongol power, clearly done under threat of an invasion that never really happened, and Tibet was never occupied by the Mongols in the way they occupied China. Interesting that this verse is attributed to Sakya Pandita's authorship:

All independence is happiness.
All dependence on others is suffering.
Common ownership serves as a basis for disputes
while agreements serve as causes for bondage.

rang dbang thams cad bde ba ste //
gzhan dbang thams cad sdug bsngal yin //
thun mong ba ni rtsod gzhi ste //
dam bcas pa ni 'ching ba'i rgyu //
Remember that word Rangwang (rang-dbang) for independence.

But in any case it was not my intent to tell my own ideas on the subject, or even to convince the unconvinced.  What I'd like to do is to send you off first to listen to an audio of an interview with Robert Barnett.  You are already familiar with him from recent Tibeto-blogs, so I will just remind you that he is the director of the Modern Tibetan History Program at Columbia University.  You decide what you think of it. For the moment I'd just like to object to three words used by the interviewer, "tiny mountain nation." Surely she was thinking of San Marino, not Tibet.  

So go now to hear "Tibetan Sovereignty has a Long, Disputed History."  It's on the website of National Public Radio.  It originally aired on April 11, 2008.  It will only take ten minutes of your time.  When you're done, back click your way back here.

Your next step is to go to the web version of the New York Times, the Opinion Page of April 13, 2008.  There you will find Dr. Elliot Sperling's "Don't Know Much about Tibetan History" (schmoogle the title if you can't get access through this official link).  The author is director of the Tibetan Studies program of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.  He has enviable mastery of both Chinese and Tibetan, both colloquial and literary, classical and modern, among still other languages.  I won't assume everyone in the globe will catch the cultural allusion contained in the headline, which may have been the invention of a newspaper editor, not the author.  I know not everyone is all that familiar with the early history of American rhythm & blues and soul music.  You might have never even heard of Otis Redding or his famous song. (The song was originally performed by Sam Cooke, and the Otis Redding was just a 'cover'... I stand corrected.)  Prof. Sperling's piece is a masterpiece of brevity, so it won't take long to read either. If you are up for it and have some more time on your hands, you can always read the book that stands behind it: The Tibet-China Conflict: History & Polemics.  It's freely available. But like I said, Ya'll come back now.

And, at last, not least, the bird.  In recent years it seems to have become established that the real author of the Story of the Bird and Monkey (Bya sprel gtam rgyud) was not the tragically short-lived Eleventh Dalai Lama (1837-1855).  No. It was an earlier and actually more famous figure named Doring Kalön Tendzin Paljor (Rdo-ring Bka'-blon Bstan-'dzin-dpal-'byor), who must have written it soon after the year 1788.  This was in fact the 'Qianlong Era,' a time when Manchu power in Tibet was at its height, when golden edicts were regularly issued telling Tibetans what to do (so what if they were often ignored or selectively applied?).  In just another few decades, the imperial treasury nearly depleted, the Manchus were unable to afford military ventures.  They could no longer push their weight around in neighboring areas as they pleased.

The context of the dialog (and the explanation for it) is very likely the negotiations meant to end the Gurkho-Tibetan war (see this back-blog) in which our author was himself a negotiator. The bird very clearly represents the Tibetan party, with the monkey representing the Gurkhas of Nepal (I really don't see any ethnic slurs intended in this animal symbolism, although I suppose I could be wrong).  The monkeys leave their homes on the plains and head up into the mountains devouring all the flowers, mushrooms and fruits that were ordinarily eaten by the birds.  Well, since I think neither you nor I have time for it, I won't go into the general story of this nicely told tale in six chapters.  I'll get to the point.  In the first chapter, the bird is responding to an argument by the monkey chief, who wants to say, basically, 'Well, anything goes and we'll go where we like.'

Listen to me oh chief of monkeys.
You see one side, you don't see both.
You see the peak of the matter,
but you don't comprehend the main part.

These down-rolling stones of your misunderstandings,
if they get caught up in the gullies, come back to you.
It may be this mountain came to be through general karma.
But each place has its owner.
Haven't your tiny little eyes seen this?
Or perhaps your ears are hard of hearing?

If we take this realm of Jambu Island* as an example,
it came to be through general karma.
But still each place - India, China, Mongolia and Tibet,
Khotan (Tarim region), Nepal and others -
has its own independence.

India was taken over by the King of Dharma.
China was taking over by the King of Tsina.
Mongolia was taken over by King Chinggis.
Khotan region was taken over by the King Yambu.
Don't you know about them?
{*Jambu Island, an Abhidharmic geographical concept, is said to lie to the south of Mt. Meru.  Although often identified with the Indian sub-continent, Jambu Island sometimes means something more like 'the world as we know it.'}
The word for 'independence' here is not  Rangzen, but the word more likely to be found in old literary writings in its place, but with the same meaning.*  Rangwang (rang-dbang), literally 'own power' or 'power over oneself,' is still very often used, and it has the meaning of taking care of ones own affairs oneself. It is used, too, in the 13th Dalai Lama's declaration of independence.  My point here is only that, understanding the bird to be the author himself thinly disguised, this prominent Lhasa political figure is saying in the clearest possible way that no one can deny the independence of Tibet.  To deny Tibetan independence would be tantamount to denying the independence of China, India and Mongolia.
{*Actually, I do know of one usage of Rangzen in a work that predates the mid-12th century, but please, I don't want to over-complicate matters by discussing such exceptions today.  The word used in the name of the TAR, is Rangkyong (rang-skyong). It means literally 'self-protecting' or 'self-governing.'  The TAR was officially formed only in 1965.  Of course since its leaders are directly appointed by Beijing, it is anything but autonomous [think about the 'autonomous okrugs' of the Soviet era].  I generally agree with Martin (1996: 60): "We should note here also other expressions for independence. Rang-rkya or rang-skya means independence in the sense of being able to stand on ones own two feet. Rang-dbang and rang-btsan are words used by Tibetan nationalists, often rendered 'self-determination.' There is also, nowadays, the relatively innocuous expression rang-skyong, 'self-governance' or 'autonomy' which occurs in the official name "Tibetan Autonomous Region" or T.A.R. All these words begin with the syllable rang, which is used to form reflexive (often self-referential) expressions."}

* * * * *

AFTER WORDS  Here you will find the passage in Tibetan in Roman transcription for the sake of readers of Tibetan.  I use a single version published in an anthology in India, although there have been at least two separate publications in the PRC, one just last year.  I've translated rather freely and of course according to my own lights.  Some graduate student ought to take it upon herself to do a full study of this text within its historical context.  I think the 4th line is intended to imitate the sound of the bird, specified to be a gong-mo bird. This bird is supposed to be a kind of light-colored grouse with a red beak that lives in meadows, although I haven't the faintest idea, really, what its birdsong sounds like.  Some translate gong-mo as partridge, but I believe it must indeed be none other than the Tibetan Snowcock that is speaking these words:

khyod spre'u'i gtso bo tshur la nyon //
khyed phyogs gcig mthong ste gnyis ma mthong //
don rtse mo shes kyang mthil ma rtogs //
ha ma go ha ma go ril ril de //
don nyag la bkag na rang la 'khor //
ri spyi mthun las* kyis grub mod kyang //
gnas so sor bdag po sprad pa de //
khyod phra chung mig gis ma mthong ngam //
thos chung rna bas ma go'am //
yul 'dzam bu gling 'dir dper mtshon na //
spyi mthun las kyis grub na yang //
rgya gar rgya nag hor dang bod //
li dang bal yul la sogs pa //
rang rang dbang re so sor yod //
rgya gar chos kyi rgyal pos bzung //
rgya nag tsi na'i rgyal pos bzung //
hor sog jing gir rgyal pos bzung //
li yul yam bu rgyal pos bdag //
de tsho khyod kyis ma go 'am //

{*The dictionary by Tsepak Rigzin featured in the previous weblog defines, on p. 168, spyi-mthun-gyi las as "Collective karma; common karma, e.g. karma of a society or locality."}
Shakabpa's history in its more detailed Tibetan version contains (Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa, Bod-kyi Srid-don Rgyal-rabs [=Political History of Tibet or An Advanced Political History of Tibet], Shakabpa House [Kalimpong 1976], vol. 2, pp. 219, bottom of the page, through 223, mid-page) supplies the content of a document dated the 8th day of the first Tibetan month of 1913, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama's seal attached, announcing Tibet's independence from China. Already in November 1912, the National Assembly of Tibet had written to the Indian Governor-General a declaration of their intention to act independently of Peking. Mongolia had, with Russian backing, declared their independence already in 1911. It may also be of interest that the official Chinese history of the time does not at all deny that a declaration of independence took place. Quite to the contrary, it says that the Dalai Lama "expelled Chung Ying and proclaimed independence" -- see Josef Kolmas, Ch'ing Shih Kao on Modern History of Tibet (1903-1912), Archiv Orientalni, vol. 32 (1964), pp. 77-99, at p. 99.

Read these if you want to:

Bsam-gtan, "Bya sprel gtam rgyud kyi rtsom pa po'i skor rags tsam gleng ba," Bod kyi rtsom rig sgyu rtsal, vol. 35, issue no. 3 of the year 1986, pp. 53-69. Bsam gtan, "Bya sprel gtam rgyud dang de'i rtsom pa po su yin skor rags tsam dpyad pa," Bod ljongs zhib 'jug, vol. 18, issue no. 3 of he year 1986, pp. 77-94. I don't have this article at hand (I assume the two publications are identical), but supposedly it established the Doring Kalön's authorship over other candidates.

Doring Tendzin Paljor (Rdo-ring Bstan-'dzin-dpal-'byor, b. 1760 CE), Bya sprel gyi gtam rgyud, contained in: Gtam rgyud / kha shags / 'bel gtam / sgrung dang / zlos gar gyis brgyan pa'i rol rtsed sna tshogs pa srid pa'i skyid sdug gi rnam 'gyur rjen char mthong ba'i me long, Blo bzang dgongs rgyan mu tig phreng mdzes series no. 38, Drepung Loseling Educational Society (Mundgod 1999), pp. 100-129.  The part translated here appears on pp. 101-102.  So far I know of at least five publications of the Bya sprel gyi gtam rgyud,  bearing various authorship attributions.

D. Martin, Wrapping Your Own Head: Problems of Context and Individuality as Pre- and Post-considerations for Translating "The Path of Ultimate Profundity," contained in: Enrica Garzilli, ed., Translating, Translations, Translators: From India to the West, Harvard Oriental Series, (Cambridge 1996), pp. 59-73, with its discussion of Tibetan words for independence at p. 60.

Elliot Sperling, Awe & Submission: A Tibetan Aristocrat at the Court of Qianlong, International Review of History, vol. 20 (1998), pp. 325-335.  This is most highly recommended for its treatment of Qing-Tibetan relations, it's account of the involuntary visit to the Qianlong Emperor by our same Doring Tendzin Paljor, and for its bibliographical references to literature on those subjects.

P. L. Mehra, The Mongol-Tibetan Treaty of January 11, 1913, Journal of Asian History, vol. 3 (1969), pp. 1-22.

Sakya Pandita, Good Sayings.  Rje btsun sa skya paṇḍi ta'i legs par bshad pa rin po che'i gter zhes bya ba'i bstan bcos (Treasury of Good Sayings of Sa skya Pandita the Eminent Tibetan Lama, 1182 1251: Development of Awareness and Conduct), ed. by Lozang Jamspal, tr. by Lozang Jamspal and Ngawang Sonam Tenzin (Jared Douglas Rhoton, 1941-1993), Ladakhratnashridipika (Leh 2003), pp. 107, 116 (I've translated based on the Tibetan found here).

Sakya Pandita, Good Sayings.  Sakya Pandita, Ordinary Wisdom: Sakya Pandita's Treasury of Good Advice, tr. by John T. Davenport with Sallie D. Davenport and Losang Thonden, Wisdom Publications (Boston 2000), pp. 141, 147.

Sakya Pandita, Letter to Tibetans.  This is found in the works of Sa-skya Pandi-ta as contained in Sa-skya-pa'i Bka'-'bum, vol. 5, pp. 401-402. This was translated in Giuseppe Tucci's Tibetan Painted Scrolls, pp. 10-12. See David P. Jackson, Sa-skya Paṇḍita's Letter to the Tibetans: A Late and Dubious Addition to His Collected Works, Journal of the Tibet Society, vol. 6 (1986), pp. 17-23.   Tucci's book was very lavishly produced and may be difficult for most people to afford or find, even the more recent reprints.  Anyway, his translation needs to be carefully redone and the question of its authenticity thoroughly investigated and reconsidered. It could be the most important single source in Tibetan language on the question of Tibet's degree of incorporation into the Mongol Empire. It is never mentioned in contemporary discussions about Tibet's independence.  I don't understand why not.  Tucci translated ngo-bltas-pa as 'vassal,' although it literally means 'those who behold the face,' or 'those who are beholden.'  I think it is used to denote the people actually attendant on the Mongol court, including Sakya Pandita himself, and by extension the various peoples they represented.  

A NOTE:  The reason to be beholden to the Mongols in those days was for one thing and one thing only, protection.  Protection from the Mongols themselves, naturally.  All of Eurasia stood in terror of them, the Chinese people not least of all.  Later on in the 13th century, Sakya Pandita's nephew Pagpa ('Phags-pa) would use his religious influence to save the Chinese people from a systematic 'human weeding' (mi-yur) or, in modern terms, genocide. Here is a painting depicting this Tibetan receiving an assurance that no more such genocides would occur in the future.  On the right side you see naked bodies, their limbs flailing against the river current. The Mongol men in their fur-trimmed red hats at the riverside are probably the ones who were taking away their clothes and tossing them in (but they are now stopping this from happening, to believe the label).  This picture, published as part of a series depicting the life of Pagpa, was published in Lhasa in 1987.  The paintings themselves are said to date from the late 15th century, and I think this is correct.  Chos rje 'phags pa'i mdzad thang [Scroll Paintings Illustrating the Biography of Dharma Lord Pagpa], Bod-ljongs Mi-dmangs Dpe-skrun-khang [Tibet People's Printing House] (Lhasa 1987), p. 55. The Tibetan-language description on p. 54 tells us that after Chinggis Khan assumed power in China, there were a lot of revolts, so every year he sent an army that captured many tens of thousands of Chinese who were thrown into the river and killed. Pagpa's heart couldn't withstand this, so he requested from Sechen (Khubilai Khan) as an 'initiation gift' that the practice be brought to an end.  We can thank our lucky stars the Mongolian people have evolved since then into such nice people.

The Tibetan inscription visible here in gold letters reads:
mi yur mi byed par bka'
gnang ba dang mi yur bcad tshul //
The agreement not to perform acts of genocide [on your left]
and the way the genocide was stopped [on your right].

Even those who are good-natured
Will grow malicious when continually abused.
Though sandalwood sticks are cool by nature,
When rubbed together they burst into flames.

rang bzhin bzang po rnams la'ang //
rgyun du gtses na gnod sems skye //
tsandan bsil ba yin mod kyi //
gtsub par gyur na 'bar bar 'gyur //
- Sakya Pandita, Good Sayings (Davenport translation no. 198)

• • •

One last quote, added on (on April 21) just for those who find unintended humor in propagandistic statements.  This is taken from today's article from People's Daily, edited by Xiong Qu, with the title "Tell You a True Tibet: Origins of So-called 'Tibetan Independence'." Overlooking the title for the moment, this article doesn't demonstrate the least knowledge of what Tibetan language sources do say, or acknowledge that they might be worth hearing, or somehow relevant to the discussion of Tibetan independence.  Tibetans never get a voice.  They could never speak.  They never can speak. They just have to shut up.  I'll let you schmoogle for it, since making a link from here to there somehow doesn't seem right to me.  Here's the quote of the day.  See if you can spot the mistake.
"There was no such word as 'independence' in the Tibetan vocabulary at the beginning of the 20th century."
A useful hint for the confused:  Whenever you see the words "true Tibet" or "true Tibetan" you know that PRC propaganda engines are at work.  You know that truth is not what you are getting.


  1. An update for myself:

    Melvyn Goldstein, Professor of Anthropology at Case Western Reserve University, wrote a response to Elliot Sperling's article, which was published in the New York Times on April 19th, here.

  2. Goldstein's credibility to talk about Tibet is roughly equivalent to that a of a climatologist concluding that global warming is a farce after having his research funded by an oil company...

  3. There is no doubt that Tibet once was independent and that it has a right for self determination. And nobody can understand it better than people from the Post soviet area. Independence for Lithuania was like a miracle. I still remember how it was in the soviet times and I can clearly remember that felling when I am traveling in Tibet.

    But there is one "but", one question that makes me feel confused when it comes to the Tibetan independence. OK, let's see - Tibet becomes independent and what's then? Tell me how will it survive in this world of consumerism and capitalism? Who will come to rule the Tibet? Government in exile? How will it function? Will they make elections? And who can they elect? Who will be trained to rule the country? This is not just an excuse to support the position of China, not at all. I know how Tibetan culture is being destroyed and how many young people already speak half Tibetan half Chinese, not able to read anything in Tibetan. I just have an experience of living in a post soviet area, I just see all these typical post-colonial problems (by the way omitted by any Lithuanian academical research, because in their opinion post-colonial can be applied only to the Third World countries and we definitely are not the one) we have here in Lithuania and I am afraid even to imagine what turn things can take in Tibet.

    First of all - we know that there has been a fight between different schools of Buddhism to rule the country. OK, last few hundred years Gelugpas were at the rule, but the tension between Kagyupas is not gone. We even have two Karmapas now, tell me what's going to happen when they will get the independance? How will they solve the question who is the most important one?

    OK, let's say Tibet will be ruled by a secular government. Tell me where they will find the cadres for that government. What governing institutions they will have? Will they use the organized Chinese governing infrastructure (which will inevitably employ the same Chinese Tibetan (how many are there Tibetans?) bureaucracy, or will they try to create a totally new one? For that they need Tibetans from exile, who are well educated in the governing issues. How many this kind of Tibetans we can find now?

    Why I am so confused? Just because here in Lithuania we have really very big problem with that. We have inherited soviet bureaucratic apparatus with all the same soviet bureaucracy. It pervades all the spheres, starting from the primary education, universities, governing institutions and parliament. We became the members of EU and NATO, but the mind of those bureaucrats is still sovietic. The ruling class habits are absolutely the same as they were in the soviet times. The soviet habit to "combine" (meaning to find how to escape certain taxes, or how to fool the certain bureaucratic mechanisms to make the system work for you) are so deeply rooted, that young people who get education in the best schools and universities of the world better find their jobs outside Lithuania, because they know that here, inside of that post-soviet bureaucratic apparatus nobody needs them, because they will interfere with their constant combination practice.

    Well of cause you can say that this all is just my imagination, that I have no right to transfer my inner dissatisfaction from Lithuania to the absolutely different situation in Tibet. You can say that things in Tibet will just go perfect, but I think that we have always to remember the post-colonial discourse here and try to stay aside from our romanticized visions of independent and free Tibet. We must remember that things are much more complicated than they seem.

    P.S. Well if you ask me what do I prefer: the independent Lithuania with all its post-colonial problems, or the one which was the part of Soviet Union, I will definitely chose the Independent one.

  4. Dear I.,

    Thanks for writing your thoughts. I don't have much to add to what you've said. This blog entry was not meant to demonstrate that Tibetans 'ought to be' independent, just that they have been conscious of their independence and in fact independent in the past. What Tibetans will do with their future ought to be for them to decide. If Beijing is confident of the love they claim Tibetans feel for them, then they won't have any reason to fear the plebiscite that Dharamsala calls for. Every country is a mess, and localized politics of whatever kind (whether independent or dependent on outside powers) are full of uncertainties, potential for instability etc., etc. That's why people need independence to begin with, so they can find their own ways of dealing with their own problems and not have solutions (which may be anything but) imposed on them.

    You neglected one important reservation against independence, which is what to do with the people who don't 'belong' there (With the very word 'belong' being the problem, since really, who belongs anywhere where they happen to be these days?) Maybe there are emigrants without deep roots, but maybe also they have kids who belong entirely to the local culture and speak the language...

    Thanks for writing. We have food for thought.


  5. Dear Dan,

    I have omitted mentioning "people who don't belong there" on purpose. It is too obvious to mention. Here again we can try to find analogies in the Post-soviet area. Lit.huania was quite successful avoiding bigger problems with that, as nearly 84% of of our population are Lithuanians, and we have more problems with Polish minority than with Russians. Different and more complicated situation is in Latvia where quite big percentage of Russians living there give reasons for Russia to declare all the Baltic countries anti Russian, fascist and so on. We can also remember recent war of Russia and Georgia, where Russia declared a right to defend a Osetian minority (with recently received Russian passports) under Georgian "genocide" which never was proved, nor denied by the Russian multimedia. So if Tibet ever would ever get its independence, China would definitely make use those mentioned above accidents, and will declare a right to send PLA to the disputed territories to guarantee the rights of minorities. The biggest problem is that those territories were in disputed authority and had no clearly mapped borders (or may be I really don't know, it is also possible, as I have quite limited access to the contemporary studies on that). On the other hand the borders seem quite clearly mapped geographically: when you travel there you can find Tibetans living almost only in the highlands and Hui and Chinese living mostly in the lowlands. Of cause the ethnic mixture is very big and I really have no idea how Tibetans feel about the Hui minority, or how Hui feel about Tibetans. After the events in Lhasa in 2008 it seems that Hui are somehow disliked, but we know very little to do any kind of generalizations.

  6. Dear Dan,

    just a tiny addendum: Sapan's letter recently WAS used as an argument by the Chinese. ChinaDaily says: "In 1247 A.D., he wrote a letter to Tibetan religious and secular chiefs in dBus-gtsang, persuading them to submit to the Mongols. This letter was welcomed and observed by them, and it played an important role in the incorporation of Tibet into the territory of China as well as the unification of Tibet by the Yuan Dynasty."
    And the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in San Francisco lets us know: "Sapan's letter calling all sect members to obey orders from the Yuan Dynasty was recently placed on the 'top protection list' of the Tibet Museum. The words, 'Paying tributary sincerely and quite willing to be loyal subjects', can be seen clearly."

    Thanks for the article and greetings from Copenhagen
    Jan S.


  7. Thanks J,

    Thanks for the update. It's true that this post is rapidly going out of date. But glancing back through it I did notice one particular bit that seems entirely appropriate to the present (2012) situation:

    Even those who are good-natured
    Will grow malicious when continually abused.
    Though sandalwood sticks are cool by nature,
    When rubbed together they burst into flames.

    rang bzhin bzang po rnams la'ang //
    rgyun du gtses na gnod sems skye //
    tsandan bsil ba yin mod kyi //
    gtsub par gyur na 'bar bar 'gyur //

    - Sakya Pandita, Good Sayings (Davenport translation no. 198)

    The "crackdown" going on at present is so sickening.



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