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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:

王贵,军事科学院原研究员,西藏问题专家,精通藏语,曾在西藏工作三十一年。回忆当年进藏的那些人和那些事,感慨万千。

一九五0年三月,十八军在四川乐山誓师进藏。从那时起,十九岁的王贵一直作为十八军先头部队的侦察兵,走在大部队的最前方。十八军进藏是解放军与藏民的第一次直接接触。据王贵说,当时的军民关系非常好。

“我们的部队说话和气、买卖公平,请老百姓背一点柴来,背来后我们就问价钱。起初,村民们不肯说价钱,因为他们从来没见过当兵的买柴还付钱的。我们就给他们称重量,再三询问,一个胆子大的才说了一个价,我们称了三四百斤,真就把那白花花的大洋(根据当时中央领导财经工作的陈云的意见,进军西藏用大洋,不用人民币)交到他们手里了,他们不敢接啊,哆哆嗦嗦的,又惊又喜。”

进军途中,难免在藏民家中借宿,为了报答藏民,部队当时开展了一项“满缸运动”,保证老百姓的水缸是满的。而在进军途中,部队所到之处,免费为藏民治病,解决了不少人的苦痛。

这些好事很快就在藏区传开来了。甘孜一个藏族老人说,从来没有见过这么好的部队。“过去的藏军、刘文辉的二十四军我都见过,都是抢老百姓、吃老百姓、拿老百姓的,只有解放军是给老百姓、帮老百姓的。”解放军因此被认为是“菩萨心肠的兵”。“菩萨兵”的称号从此在青藏高原上广为流传。

解放军在藏区秋毫无犯,赢得了老百姓的鼎力支持。“进藏途中,老百姓牵着牦牛和我们一块儿运输,几千几万头牦牛和我们一块儿爬雪山、一块儿趟冰河,他们送来酥油茶给我们喝,我们有饭也给他们吃,亲如一家。”

“淮海战役的胜利是山东人民用小车推出来的,进军西藏的胜利是藏族人民用牦牛给驼出来的。”王贵对此非常肯定。

一九五0年十月,王贵所在先头部队俘虏三千多藏军。

“他们开始很害怕呀,但是没想到我们对他们那么好。”王贵说,藏军过去抓到俘虏,剁手、剁脚、挖眼睛,随便怎么样处理。但是,解放军却给他们治病。“我们的伤病员后治,他们的伤病员当场就给包扎,除了武器弹药上缴外,他们的私人财物都还发还。释放后还给发路费,遣返回去,每个人给两个大洋,有家眷的给三个大洋。”

民主改革后,王贵在西藏见到了另一番场景。当时他在西藏澎波地区参加民主改革工作,一个农奴在分到了自己的耕地以后,竟然高兴的在田里打起滚来,流着眼泪抽泣着说,“真没想到我还能有自己的地,我再也不当牛马了,真正成为人了,毛主席是大救星!”

为了表达对西藏民主改革五十周年的庆祝,王贵特意赋诗一首,以作纪念:

千年差役赋租枷,
吸血群魔任宰刮。
霹雳一声笼铐碎,
农奴喜尝自由花。

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