The present volume brings together the papers presented at the conference held in Delhi in November, 2009 under the joint auspices of University of Delhi and Central University of Tibetan Studies, Samath, Varanasi.
This volume incorporates papers written by experts in Tibetology, and their focus has been on Tibet's history and culture. Tibet's history has often been profaned, and the country with its millennia old civilization has come to be projected as a land of magic and miracles, and later a Sinocized picture of Tibet is advertised in the wake of China's aggressive expansionism. Even the powers that swear by democracy and human rights have been diplomatically soft towards China's designs in Tibet. The geo- political strategic position of Tibet in the heartland of Asia has ever been a lure to its neighbours, Russia, Mongolia, China and British India. Tibet's history is chequered with rise and fall, increase and decrease of political influences and manoeuvres of its neighbours. Yet through tumultuous centuries it has retained its unique culture, custom and ethnic identity. In recent times propaganda has to come to such a pass that Tibet's identity is sought to be written off by demographic manipulation, encouraging immigration of non-Tibetan people from China to settle in Tibet, and thereby outnumbering the authentic Tibetans, and bringing them under the shadow of an alien culture.
Tibet had never been a country with closed windows. It had welcomed and adapted cultural items from its neighbours, be it medicine, religion, architecture, painting, and above all, religion. The Tibetan King Song- Tsen Gampo entered into matrimonial relations with China and Nepal. There was a time that Tibet was a considerable military power over areas far beyond its own territories, and even the borders of Himalayan India. 'The sixth Dalai Lama' was born and grew up in Tawang. These are facts of history, and can hardly be ignored. But Tibet's neighbours always had an eye on the country, and did not like the idea that it should have anything to do others than they. Concepts like sovereignty and suzerainty of Western political discourse can never do justice to the status of Tibet in history. There are facts, hard core ones to show that Tibet always retained its identity both in politics and culture, and did not surrender to powers of its neighbours.
The papers in the volume are perceptive probings, based often on archival documents, government notices and proclamations. And the inquiry spans from ancient times to the present day. It may be hoped that a honest appreciation and perusal of the contents of the papers would help reviewing Tibet's case with fresh thinking, unbiased by propaganda and commercial interests of the powers of the world. Imperialism today has new guises, and one should realize also that the matter of human rights in Tibet ought to be a matter of serious intent, not mere words empty of content to spice in pious speeches. The onus lies more with the Tibet's neighbours than the pretentious movers and shakers of the world today. There are such things as political ethics, for Aristotle ethics was a part of politics, and for Gandhi it was the whole of it. Lecturing the world on global political morality is all too often naivety, unless it is backed by authentic goodwill. Otherwise it would be valuationally crude and gross as often is the case.
I do hope that the readers of this volume on Tibet's history and culture will learn more about the country and get over the kind of defeatism which seems to have got hold of the thinking of a great many people in the world. We have to be more confident that with reasoned public discussion and concerted global action a great deal more can be achieved than is happening right now. There is everything to fight for as regards Tibet, with clarity and reason. To quote Rabindranath- Tagore, "Do not lose your heart, my friend. That what is huge is not great, and pride is not everlasting."
My sincere thanks go to Kalon Tempa Tsering, Representative, Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, New Delhi for unfailing cooperation in communicating with the scholars on my behalf. This was an onerous task that he did with glee.
I would like to put on record my appreciation of kind gestures of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Geshe Ngawang Samten, in facilitating my job, Mr. Tenzin Kunsel for providing invaluable secretarial assistance, and Shri S.P. Singh for type-setting the entire corpus of the papers in the present volume. I thank him sincerely.
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