The story of how a four year old Tibetan farmer's boy was chosen by divination to become the 14th Dalai Lama is a fascinating one, but less known is the story of his family, and their destiny. This ordinary peasant family had to cope with the fame and greatness thrust upon them, only to be in flight a decade later from the Chinese army of "liberation". Supplemented by personal interviews with the Dalai Lama and his family, this text is a tale of a people wrenched from their land by force and of their fight for survival.
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The Dalai Lama isn't the only religious icon in his family. He has two brothers who are also tulkas, or reincarnated religious leaders, and his parents and other siblings became revered by dint of their relationships to him. Mary Craig chronicles this intriguing web of familial, religious, and national loyalties that bind these people to a destiny unsought and unshakable.
Craig presents this god-king and his family in plain, human terms: from poor peasant upbringing, to tedious and isolated education, to bewilderment at the utter complexity of the political affairs he and his family are fated to confront. In Kundun, you enter the daily life of this family to experience the simple beauty of Tibetan culture, the trauma of brutal oppression and exile, and the protracted hope of redemption through nonviolent resistance.
Controversy plays no part in Craig's depiction, and the few sensitive areas that she does expose are glossed over as unresolved. She reveals the weaknesses of the tulka system and relates how even tulkas may question the truth of their own supposed reincarnation.From the Back Cover:
This book opens in 1933 with the death of the thirteenth Dalai Lama and the frantic effort among Tibetan authorities to find his reincarnation. In their search for a baby boy with the characteristic marks of a Dalai Lama - tiger-striped legs, wide eyes, large ears, and palms bearing the pattern of a sea shell - officials were led to a tiny village in northeastern Tibet, home of Lhamo Dhondup, a smart, stubborn toddler already known for his tantrums. Responding calmly when a group of high lamas and dignitaries tested his memory of a previous life, the child easily recognized a rosary, walking stick, and drum belonging to the thirteenth Dalai Lama. In an instant this little boy and his entire family were swept into a world of unending ritual and complex internal politics. Lhamo was installed as the fourteenth Dalai Lama at the age of three, and was known from that point on as His Holiness or Kundun (the Presence), titles even his family members were obliged to use. A few years later the young Dalai Lama and his family were faced with China's invasion of Tibet. Living in exile since the late 1950s, they have waged a decades-long struggle for the freedom of their country. Mary Craig's intimate portrayal is the first to focus on the Dalai Lama's family - his parents, four brothers, and two sisters - all of whom have played integral roles in Tibet's resistance to Chinese occupation. Particularly compelling are Craig's portraits of the Dalai Lama's siblings, who have negotiated with China on behalf of their country, enlisted the aid of international allies to spearhead Tibetan Resistance, and worked tirelessly to help thousands of sick and starving refugee children.
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Book Description Fount, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006280803