Prelims level : International Mains level : GS2 - Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
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  • China has affirmed that the successor of the Dalai Lama has to be decided within China and any interference by India will impact bilateral ties.


  • The Dalai Lamas are believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet.
  • Bodhisattvas are realized beings, inspired by the wish to attain complete enlightenment, who have vowed to be reborn in the world to help all living beings.

The Dalai Lamas in Tibetan Buddhism:

  • The Dalai Lama is a highly influential figure.
  • All of the Dalai Lamas are thought to be manifestations of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara.
  • The 14 generations of Dalai Lamas, spanning six centuries, are linked through their acts of compassion. For Buddhists, the ultimate goal is enlightenment, or “nirvana” – a liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
  • East Asian and Tibetan Buddhists, as part of the Mahayana sect, believe bodhisattvas have reached this highest realization.
  • Mahayana Buddhists believe bodhisattvas choose to be reborn, to experience the pain and suffering of the world, in order to help other beings attain enlightenment.

China and Dalai Lama:

  • Today the selection process for the next Dalai Lama remains uncertain.
  • In 1950 China’s communist government invaded Tibet. The Dalai Lama fled in 1959 and set up a government in exile. The Dalai Lama is revered by Tibetan people and his exile has created anger inside Tibet. China’s threats to manipulate the selection process is believed to be a way to impose control on the Tibetan people.
  • In 1995, the Chinese government caused the disappearance of the Dalai Lama’s choice for the successor of the Panchen Lama, the second most important tulku lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, when he was 6 years old. The Chinese government appointed their own Panchen Lama.
  • China also wants to appoint its own Dalai Lama. But it is important to Tibetan Buddhists that they are in charge of the selection process.
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