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Home >> Tibet & Lamaism

When Dalai Lama Ruled:
Hell on Earth

21 March 2009

This article was published by Revolutionary Worker on February 22, 1998 at "". The following are the excerpts and Chinese translations:

Hard Climate, Heartless Society

At the time of the revolution, the population of Tibet was extremely spread out. Villages, monasteries and nomad encampments were often separated by many days of difficult travel.

Maoist revolutionaries saw there were "Three Great Lacks" in old Tibet: lack of fuel, lack of communications, and lack of people. The revolutionaries analyzed that these "Three Great Lacks" were not mainly caused by the physical conditions, but by the social system.



The Dalai Lama's older brother Thubten Jigme Norbu claims that in the lamaist social order, "There is no class system and the mobility from class to class makes any class prejudice impossible." But the whole existence of this religious order was based on a rigid and brutal class system.

Serfs were treated like despised "inferiors" - the way Black people were treated in the Jim Crow South. Serfs could not use the same seats, vocabulary or eating utensils as serf owners. Even touching one of the master's belongings could be punished by whipping. The masters and serfs were so distant from each other that in much of Tibet they spoke different languages.

It was the custom for a serf to kneel on all fours so his master could step on his back to mount a horse. Tibet scholar A. Tom Grunfeld describes how one ruling class girl routinely had servants carry her up and down stairs just because she was lazy. Masters often rode on their serfs' backs across streams.

The lamaist system tried to prevent any escape. Runaway slaves couldn't just set up free farms in the vast empty lands. Former serfs explained to revolutionary writer Anna Louise Strong that before liberation, "You could not live in Tibet without a master. Anyone might pick you up as an outlaw unless you had a legal owner."



旧西藏的传统之一就是农奴四肢着地趴在那儿让主人踏着他的背上马。藏学家汤姆· 古朗菲曾描述过如何一名领主的女儿让她的仆人天天背着她上下楼,没有别的原因,只是因为她太懒不愿意爬楼梯。农奴主骑在农奴的背上过小溪小河更是稀松平常。

喇嘛教制度竭尽全力防止农奴的跳跑,因为逃跑的农奴可以轻易地在人烟稀少的地区建立它自己的牧场。一位前农奴告诉美国作家安娜· 路易斯特朗:在旧西藏“你没有可能没有主人而独立存在。除非你能指出你的主人是谁,不然任何人都可以把你当作逃跑的农奴抓起来。”

The Dalai Lama writes, "In Tibet there was no special discrimination against women."

But in Tibet, being born a woman was considered a punishment for "impious" (sinful) behavior in a previous life. The word for "woman" in old Tibet, kiemen, meant "inferior birth."

Lamaist superstition associated women with evil and sin. It was said "among ten women you'll find nine devils."

Masters transferred serfs from one estate to another at will, breaking up serf families forever. Rape of women serfs was common--under the ulag system, a lord could demand "temporary wives."

达赖喇嘛写道:在他统治之下的西藏“没有对女性的歧视。” 而事实上,在旧西藏生为女性被认为是一种对前世罪恶的惩罚。在旧西藏语中女人的意思就是“天生低贱”。 喇嘛教更认定十个女人中九个是魔鬼。

农奴主可以随心所欲地将其农奴从他的一个庄园打发到另一个庄园去,让农奴和他的家庭永远天各一方。强奸女农奴更是家常便饭 - 在旧西藏农奴制下,主人有获得“临时妻妾”的权利。

Tibetan monasteries were dark fortresses of feudal exploitation - they were armed villages of monks complete with military warehouses and private armies.

The huge idle religious clergy grew little food - feeding them was a big burden on the people.

Monasteries also made up countless religious taxes to rob the people--including taxes on haircuts, on windows, on doorsteps, taxes on newborn children or calves, taxes on babies born with double eyelids...and so on. A quarter of Drepung's income came from interest on money lent to the serf-peasantry.

The class relations of Tibet were reproduced inside the monasteries: the majority of monks were slaves and servants to the upper abbots and lived half-starved lives of menial labor, prayer chanting and routine beatings.

After liberation, Anna Louise Strong asked a young monk, Lobsang, if monastery life followed Buddhist teachings about compassion. The young lama replied that he heard plenty of talk in the scripture halls about kindness to all living creatures, but that he personally had been whipped at least a thousand times. "If any upper class lama refrains from whipping you," he told Strong, "that is already very good. I never saw an upper lama give food to any poor lama who was hungry. They treated the laymen who were believers just as badly or even worse."





西藏改革后,安娜· 阿姆斯特朗曾询问一年轻喇嘛是否喇嘛寺院的生活体现了佛陀倡导的慈悲精神。年轻喇嘛回说道他确实常在经堂里听到关于对众生要慈悲的教诲,但他在这个寺院里已经被抽打了不止一千次。“要是大喇嘛们能够做到稍稍忍一下他们的怒火不再用皮鞭抽打你,这已经是非常慈悲了。我从没见过一次大喇嘛给挨饿的穷苦喇嘛一点吃的东西。他们对待喇嘛信众的态度同样的坏,甚至更恶劣。”

These days, the Dalai Lama is "packaged" internationally as a non-materialist holy man. In fact, the Dalai Lama was the biggest serf owner in Tibet. his family directly controlled 27 manors, 36 pastures, 6,170 field serfs and 102 house slaves.

The first time he fled to India in 1950, the Dalai Lama's advisors sent several hundred mule-loads of gold and silver bars ahead to secure his comfort in exile. After the second time he fled, in 1959, Peking Review reported that his family left lots of gold and silver behind, plus 20,331 pieces of jewelry and 14,676 pieces of clothing.



[2] Bitter Poverty, Early Death

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