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Lions Roar : July 2017
But the peasant child’s life was about change in unimaginable ways. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama had died in 1933. Three search parties were sent out to find his reincarnation, and visions and various signs led one of the parties to the small farmhouse with juniper gutters. The head of the search party, Kewtsang Rinpoche, disguised himself as a servant so that he could interact with the two-year-old boy unobserved. The toddler appeared to recognize him, saying, “You are a lama from Sera.” Kewtsang Rinpoche returned three weeks later with a larger group of dignitaries. They conducted a series of formal tests and the boy passed them. Encouraged, they returned to Lhasa to inform the authorities that the next Dalai Lama had been found. Lhamo Thondup was taken to live at Kumbum Monastery, seventeen miles from home, to await departure for Lhasa. Separated from his parents, he found comfort in a kind old monk who allowed him to sit among the folds of his robe. He would live at Kumbum for the next eighteen months. The wait was so long because the local Chinese warlord, Ma Bufang, observed the excitement surrounding the boy and demanded an enormous ransom to allow the special child to depart for Lhasa. At last the ransom was paid and a week after the boy’s fourth birthday, in mid-July of 1939, when the rest of the world was on the brink of war, a large caravan set out with little Lhamo Thondup and his family for the capital city of Tibet. The journey would take three months. Much of the way from Taktser to Lhasa went through Ma Bufang’s territory. Fearing that he would demand even more bribes, the officials kept their recognition of the Dalai Lama a secret, even from his mother and father. Not until after two months of travel—through forests, lake lands, and high plateaus—did they announce the news. In the early hours of the morning, in one of his first offi- cial acts, the little boy was seated on a temporary throne to greet a delegation of one hundred digni- taries from Lhasa. Some days later, at sunrise, Lhamo Thondup and his entourage entered Lhasa. For a few months he lived in the summer palace of Norbulingka. Then, on February 22, 1940, following the Tibetan New Year, he was formally enthroned as the Four- teenth Dalai Lama and given his new name: Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso— Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Eloquent, Compassionate, Learned Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom. Lhamo Thondup was born into a poor but happy peasant family and was recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of two. This photo was taken when he was about four. PHOTOCOURTESYOFTHETIBETMUSEUM LION’S ROAR | JULY 2017 59