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Buddhist Soldiers

27 March 2009

Tibetan lamas love to call themselves Buddhist Warriors. Warriors they truly are, as for Tibetan Buddhist Warriors, hummm well, we don't believe there is such a species in this world.

But there are a group of people who were indeed called Buddhist Soldiers by a great number of Tibetan serfs and slaves.

Wang Gui (王贵), a Tibetan culture researcher who lived and worked 31 years in Tibet and speaks fluent Tibetan language, was one of such Buddhist Soldiers half a century ago.

Back then, he was a 19-year old detective sergeant in an advanced detachment sent by the 18th PLA Army. During the military advance into Tibet, the biggest obstacle they were facing was a severe shortage of food, and from time to time the troops had to rely on wild herbs for survival. But even in such an extreme situation, no soldier ever looted food from Tibetan civilians.

One day Wang's detachment arrived at a Tibetan village and inquired the locals if they could be provided with some firewood. Soon, the villagers sent firewood to them, and Wang and his mates asked what the price was. Initially the Tibetan villagers didn't understand what the soldiers were asking about. They had been demanded for firewood and food countless times before by Dalai Lama's army and warlords' military forces entered Tibet from other parts of China, none of them ever paid for anything. When eventually the villagers received silver coins from the PLA soldiers, their hands were all shaky.

As the troops advanced deep into the Tibetan area, they often needed to aboard at local Tibetan's homes, and whenever they stayed there, they would help the families with household chores to reduce the interruption to the civilians. Along the way, they also provided free medical treatment to the locals. Soon, news spread, telling legendary stories about Buddhist soldiers, and the local Tibetan people eagerly offered to work as the Liberation Army's civilian logistics support teams. "Without Tibetans and their yaks, we would not be able to liberate the whole Tibet from dark slavery and serfdom," said Wang.

Another group of people who viewed the Liberation Armies as Buddhist Soldiers were PLA's former enemies. Once Wang's detachment captured 3,000 Tibetan troops, and provided their prisoners with medical treatment, as well as travel expenses to help them to return home. Normally when Tibetan armies fought against each other, they would cut off their captives' hands and feet, or gouge out their eyes.

After the liberation of Tibet, Wang saw a Tibetan serf rolling his body over his newly distributed crop fields, and shouted through tears, "I can't believe I now have my own farmland, I'm no longer a serf, I'm a man - thank you, Chairman Mao, you are a real Living Buddha."

Today, you can still find China's later leader Chairman Mao Zedong's portrait hung on the front wall of many Tibetan households.

Source of info: 十八军进藏侦察兵口述历史, by 徐长安, 中新网,. The following is part of its text:













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