Friday, November 29, 2013

Two letters from the Dalai Lama to Nehru

The Dalai and his mother in Mussorie
A few months back, I posted a remarkable historical document which appeared in the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru (Part II - Volume 48, April 1- 30, 1959)
It was a transcript of the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the Dalai Lama, who a few weeks earlier had taken refuge in India. 
The Tibetan leader was then staying in Mussorie (Uttarakhand).
Today, I am posting two letters written by the Dalai Lama to Nehru during the former's early days in India.
They can be found in Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru (Part II - Volume 49, May 1 - June 30, 1959) published by the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.
Letter from the Dalai Lama to Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India

7 May 1959
At this moment the entire monk and lay people of Tibet are undergoing unbearable sorrows and miseries of tremendous magnitude which can be seen by the fact that thousands of Tibetans are rushing out of their country seeking refuge in India. In this connection, I would refer to Your Excellency's excellent suggestion during our recent meeting that Government of India would seek to find a peaceful approach to solve the problem and with which I had entirely agreed. Accordingly, I have been giving deep thought to every aspect of this problem. I would, however, like to submit the following four points for the time being which could form the basis of peaceful talks in the future. It would be extremely difficult to put any credence in anything promised by the Chinese until these four points are brought clearly into practice. We have no one except the Government of India to whom we can look for help and guidance and to the Government of India we would like to bring the following for their very kind consideration;
  1. The communists should stop their diabolical activities in Tibet which has resulted in enormous bloodshed from a fixed date and should also immediately set free all the Tibetans who are either imprisoned or set to heavy manual task.
  2. The entire Chinese military force should be withdrawn from Tibet and not a single soldier be left behind.
  3. An enquiry should be made whether damage has been caused to Buddhism in Tibet, its institutions including precious scripts and idols, congregation of monks and the means of Tibetan people's livelihood, etc. A committee representing the countries having common boundaries with Tibet under the leadership of India with representatives of some neighbouring Buddhist countries accompanied by some of our Tibetan officials should be sent to all parts of Tibet equipped with wireless transmitting sets in order to make a thorough enquiry and ensure that the two points mentioned above are properly observed.
  4. In order to give medical aid and assistance to the wounded persons and patients of Tibet and to prevent the outbreak of epidemic and famine as a result of the present sanguinary clash, the International Red Cross should be permitted to open a branch in Tibet to serve all parts of Tibet.
May these requests meet with Your Excellency's favourab1e consideration and sympathetic help so that these may find realisation.

[sd: The Dalai Lama]

The Chinese were certainly not ready to accept these conditions, and Nehru was not in the mood to even ask his friend Zhou Enlai to institute an enquiry or request him to move the Peoples' Liberation Army out of Tibet.
Here is the second letter, 6 weeks later.

Letter from the Dalai Lama to Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India
23 June 1959

The Government of India have been kind enough to give every possible help to the Tibetan refugees and I have expressed my heartfelt thanks recently through Shri [K.L.] Mehta and Shri P.N. Menon. I am thanking the Government of India once again for the kindness. But, I could not help giving you the following trouble and hope that you will not mind.
  1. Younger members of the Tibetan refugees, during their stay in India, may kindly be given education and other possible training by the Government as soon as possible. If they are favoured with this opportunity, it will not only be helpful to them, but it will be of great help to the Government of Tibet in future.
  2. As discussed during our recent meeting, I am thinking of sending some of my representatives to the Eastern and Western countries in order to establish religious links. Lists of the names of the representatives will be sent to you later. It is requested the Government of India may be kind enough to give them facilities such as the grant of passports to visit foreign countries and also permission to return to India on completion of their work, and foreign exchange to meet their required expenses.
  3. I am thinking of removing the gold and silver bullion that I have deposited in Gangtok to Calcutta for sale. Permission may please be granted to do so and also customs duty on them may kindly be exempted.
  4. In order to maintain my Government and staff, for a period of one year, I may kindly be granted a loan of Rs. 47,36,000.00 (forty-seven lakhs and thirty-six thousand only).
  5. I wish to send some young Tibetans to have foreign education. If this proposal comes through, I will submit their names and hope they will be granted passports to go to foreign countries. They may also be permitted re-entry into India on completion of their education.
 [sd: The Dalai Lama]

It is clear that education of the younger generation of refugees was foremost in the Dalai Lama's mind in the early days.

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