Facts on Tibet

Brief Historical Background

Jowo RinpochenIn the seventh-century, during the reign of the thirty third King of Tibet Songtsen Gampo, Tibet was the master of much of Asia. Songtsen Gampo sent his chief minister, Gar Tongtsen to the kingdom of Nepal. Gar Tongtsen asked the Nepalese king to send the Royal Princess Bhrikuti and extensive dowry as gifts for the Tibetan king. Gar Tongtsen was then sent to the capital of China. There, the Tang Emperor Taizong offered his daughter, Princess Wencheng, and a fabulous dowry. The greatest of her gifts, was a golden statue of Lord Buddha now known as the Jowo Rinpochen.

Under the reign of Gyalpo (King) Songtsen Gampo, Tibet, then, had an army of 2,860,000 men. Each regiment of the army had its own banner. The banner of Ya-ru To regiment had a pair of snow lions facing each other, that of Ya-ru Ma a snow lion standing upright, springing upwards towards the sky, and that of U-ru To a white flame against a red background.

By 1911-12, Tibet was a de fecto independent state by modern standards with total control over its own internal and external affairs, its own political, tax, monetary and postal systems and a cohesive linguistic, cultural and religious identity.

TibetIn 1949, Chinese troops invaded Tibet. The invasion was condemned in the United Nations General Assembly in 1959, 1961 and 1965. In the spring of 1959, when a Tibetan uprising in Lhasa was crushed, forcing the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama and 80,000 Tibetans to India, where they remain as refugees today. Over the next 20 years, the destruction in Tibet was immense, especially during the Cultural Revolution (1965-1976). Some estimates put at more than 1.2 million Tibetans, one-fifth of the country’s population. Over 6,000 monasteries, temples and other cultural and historical buildings were destroyed and their contents destroyed or pillaged.

Tibetan national flagExplanation of the Symbolism of the Tibetan National Flag

H. H. the Thirteenth Dalai Lama designed a new banner and issued a proclamation for its adoption by all the military establishments. This banner became the present Tibetan national flag.

In the center stands a magnificent snow-clad mountain, which represents the great nation of Tibet, widely known as the Land Surrounded by Snow Mountains. The Six red bands spread across the dark blue sky represent the original ancestors of the Tibetan people: the six tribes called Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru, and Ra which in turn gave rise to the (twelve) descendants.The combination of six red bands (for the tribes) and six dark blue bands (for the sky) represents the unceasing enactment of the virtuous deeds of protection of the spiritual teachings and secular life by the black and red guardian protector deities with which Tibet has been connected since times immemorial. At the top of the snowy mountain, the sun with its rays shinning brilliantly in all directions represents the equal enjoyment of freedom, spiritual and material happiness and prosperity by all beings in the land of Tibet.On the slopes of the mountain a pair of snow lions stand proudly, blazing with the manes of fearlessness, which represent the country’s victorious accomplishment of a unified spiritual and secular life. The beautiful and radiant three-colored jewel held aloft represents the ever-present reverence respectfully held by the Tibetan people towards the three supreme gems, the objects of refuge: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

The two colored swirling jewel held between the two lions represents the people’s guarding and cherishing of the self discipline of correct ethical behavior, principally represented by the practices of the ten exalted virtues and the 16 humane modes of conduct.

Lastly, the adornment with a yellow border symbolizes that the teachings of the Buddha, which are like pure, refined gold and unbounded in space and time, are flourishing and spreading.

Tibetan National Anthem (Translated in English)

Let the radiant light shine of Buddha’s wish-fulfilling gem teachings, the treasure mine of all hopes for happiness and benefit in both worldly life and liberation.

Protectors who hold the jewel of the teachings and all beings, nourishing them greatly, may the sum of your virtuous deeds grow full.

Firmly enduring in a diamond-hard state, guard all directions with Compassion and love.

Above our heads may divinely appointed rule abide endowed with a hundred benefits and let the power increase of four fold auspiciousness, May a new golden age of happiness and bliss spread throughout the three provinces of Tibet and the glory expand of religious-secular rule.

By the spread of Buddha’s teachings in all directions, may everyone throughout the world enjoy the glories of happiness and peace.

In the battle against dark negative forces, may the auspicious sunshine of the teachings and beings of Tibet and the brilliance of myriad radiant prosperities be ever triumphant.

Tibetan National Emblem

Tibetan national emblem

Tibetan Diaspora

Population:
Approximately 111,170 (Approximate worldwide distribution: India 85,000, Nepal 14,000, Bhutan 1,600, Switzerland 1,540, Rest of Europe 640, Scandinavia 110, USA and Canada 7,000, Japan 60, Taiwan 1,000, Australia and New Zealand 220 (Based on Tibetan Demographic Survey of 1998, Planning Council, Dharamsala)

Constitution:
Charter of the Tibetans in Exile

Judiciary:
The Chief Justice Commissioner, Chairperson and the Vice Chairperson of the Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies, and the Kalon Tripa shall install a five member committee which shall submit a list of nominees for the posts of Chief Justice Commissioner and the Justice Commissioners to His Holiness the Dalai Lama who shall propose a candidate to the assembly for approval

Legislature:
Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies with 46 members (43 elected directly by the exile population and three appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama). The term of office is five years.

Executive:
The Kashag (Cabinet) is the apex executive body. The executive chief is elected directly by the exile population for a term of five years. He/she nominates other members of the Kashag and seeks approval for their appointment from the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies.

Major NGOs:
Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, Gu-chu-sum, National Democratic Party of Tibet.

Foreign Missions:
Based in New Delhi, Kathmandu, New York, London, Paris, Geneva, Brussels, Budapest, Moscow, Canberra, Tokyo, Pretoria and Taipei.

Livelihood:
Sweater-selling business, agriculture, ago-industries, handicraft exports, and service sector.

Education:
Total school enrolment is 85 to 90 percent of school age.