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Home >> Tibet & Lamaism

Storming "Heaven" (3)

13 March 2009

[1] [2]

In March 1959, armed monks and Tibetan soldiers attacked the revolutionary garrison in Lhasa and launched a revolt along the Tibet-India border. One monk later said, "All of us were told that, if we killed a Han, we would become Living Buddhas and have chapels to our name." Without much support among the masses, the lamaists were soon dug in at some shrines. The main revolt was over within a few days.



During the fighting, the Dalai Lama fled into exile. This flight is portrayed by lamaists as a heroic, even mystical event. But it is now well documented that the Dalai Lama was whisked away by a CIA covert operation. The Dalai Lama's own autobiography admits that his cook and radio operator on that trip were CIA agents. The CIA wanted him outside of Tibet--as a symbol for a contra-style war against the Maoist revolution.


Defeated in their revolt, large sections of the upper clergy and aristocracy followed the Dalai Lama south into India--accompanied by many slave-servants, armed guards and mule-trains of wealth. In all, 13,000 went into exile, among them the most hard-core feudal forces and their supporters. Suddenly, many of Tibet's Three Masters--the rich lamas, the high government officials, and the secular aristocrats--were gone!

叛乱惨败后,大部分上层喇嘛和贵族带着他们的奴隶、仆人、家丁及他们搜刮来的大量的金银财宝跟着达赖逃到印度南部,总计约有1万3千人。忽然之间,西藏的三大领主 - 富裕的喇嘛、高官和贵族 - 全都消失了。

The Dalai Lama's Kashag government had largely supported this counterrevolutionary revolt and was dissolved. Forced ulag labor was abolished. The nangzen slaves of the nobles and monasteries were freed. The masses of slave-monks were suddenly allowed to leave the monasteries. Arms caches were cleaned out of the main monasteries, and key conspirators were arrested.


Some people like to talk about "struggle for religious freedom in Tibet"--but throughout Tibetan history, the main struggle around "religious freedom" has been for the freedom not to believe, not to obey the cruel monks and their endless superstitions. The sight of thousands of young monks eagerly getting married and doing manual labor was a powerful blow to superstitious awe.


Women's liberation got off the ground--under the then-shocking slogan "All men and women are equal!" Revolutionary property changes helped ease old pressures for polygamy. With a large new pool of eligible men, there was no longer the same pressure for women to accept a situation where one man could have many wives. With the redistribution of the land, women were no longer under the same pressure to marry several brothers in one family?


Without the land rent, the huge parasitic monasteries started to dry up. About half the monks left them and about half the monasteries closed down.

Serfs said: "The sun of the Kashag shone only on the Three Masters and their landlord henchmen, but the sun of the Communist Party and Chairman Mao shines on us--the poor people."



These revolutionary moves took intense and often bloody class struggle. There was all the complexity, heroism, mistakes, advances and setbacks of real-life revolution.

Sharp struggle also broke out in the new Institutes of National Minorities--often along class lines. Some Tibetan students from aristocratic background intended to become a new elite--some resented it when land reform affected their serf-owning families back in Tibet. They also rejected moves toward social equality: demanding to have servants who would make their beds and clean their rooms, and they refused to mingle with fellow students from slave and serf backgrounds. Similar issues divided the new schools in Lhasa itself: aristocrat-students demanded that slave-students carry their "master's" books. Lamas were sent in to "oversee education" and conduct prayers before and after study sessions.



Prev: Dalai Lama's Magic Horn
Next: Storming "Heaven" (2)


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