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Lions Roar : July 2017
sessions the panel of judges unanimously awarded him the title of geshé. The pinnacle of seventeen years of training, the day remains one of the Dalai Lama’s most valued memories. The Chinese authorities were pressing him to confirm a date for the performance, and he agreed that he would attend on March 10. On the evening of March 9, the Chinese said they wanted him to travel to the military base in secrecy, bringing only three or four unarmed body- guards. He felt he had no choice but to agree. Rumors quickly spread in the city that the Dalai Lama was about to be abducted by the Chinese military. On the morning of March 10, after an anxious, sleepless night, he heard the noise of a large crowd outside the Potala. Tens of thousands of Tibetans had gathered— denouncing the Seventeen Point Agreement, blocking the gates to the palace, and refusing to let the Dalai Lama depart. He was greatly distressed, fearing a catastrophic descent into vio- lence. “If there was a clash,” he wrote in My Land and My People, “the result was a foregone conclusion. The Lhasan people would be ruth- lessly massacred in thousands, and Lhasa and the rest of Tibet would see a full-scale military rule with all its persecution and tyranny.” Even when the dance performance was canceled, the protests contin- ued. The Chinese urged the Dalai Lama to take shelter in their camp. He IT WAS EARLY MARCH, 1959. The Dalai Lama was preparing for his final examinations when he was invited to the Chinese military base in Lhasa to see a dance performance. The Dalai Lama agreed to go, but said he couldn’t do anything until after his exams. The examinations, conducted as a dialectical debate before an audi- ence of thousands, lasted from morning to evening. After three rigorous Uprising and Escape March, 1959 Fearful that the Chinese military intends to kidnap the Dalai Lama, thousands of Tibetans gather in front of the Potala Palace to protest Chinese rule and protect their leader. PHOTOCOURTESYOFTHETIBETMUSEUM(TOP)ANDTHEOFFICEOFHHDALAILAMA Just days before the revolt, the Dalai Lama takes his final geshé examinations. LION’S ROAR | JULY 2017 64