The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet and was also political head of the region until nine years ago. This system of the Dalai Lama dates back to the 1400s and it is based on the theme of reincarnation. It is widely believed among Tibetans that the Dalai Lama can control his re-birth and he can choose the body into which he will take next birth.
The previous Dalai Lama took his last breath in 1933 and after four years, his successor was located. The present Dalai Lama is now 85 years old. Lamas of Buddhism have to find his successor upon his death. But, China wants to hijack the process and select a Dalai Lama who can be controlled by the Chinese Communist Party headquarters.
The US has now passed a law which states that only the Tibetans should be able to decide who the next Dalai Lama should be. China annexed Tibet in 1950. For the last 70 years, China is trying to control the affairs of Tibet.
Beijing has distorted the land’s unique identity, tried to control Tibetan Buddhism, attacked monasteries, pushed propaganda into the region and sent Han Chinese into the region to make it “more Chinese”.
When China annexed Tibet, India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama and his thousands of followers in 1959. Presently, Dalai Lama and his followers live in Dharamsala, located in northern India.
This time, the succession may not be as simple as traditionally has been. There might be two Dalai Lamas, one picked by China and other by Dharamsala. China is fully aware that it can control Tibet only if it can pick the next Dalai Lama, who would be Tibetan by blood and Chinese by spirit.
Dalai Lama is fully aware of Chinese malicious intentions and in 2011, he said that the final say over his successor is of himself and no one else, and obviously, not Chinese communists can get to choose who his successor will be. In 2019, the Dalai Lama said that in future, if one sees two Dalai Lamas, one from a free country and another chosen by the Chinese, then nobody will trust or respect the one chosen by China, so that’s an additional problem for the Chinese.
India has decided not to comment on America’s new bill, but it has made its stand clear in more subtle ways like Indian leaders wishing the Dalai Lama on his birthday or India using Tibetan soldiers to occupy strategic heights in Ladakh.