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Tibet

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TIBET. The term Tibet is somewhat contested for political reasons. While it is frequently applied (especially by pro-Chinese sources) to the "Tibet Autonomous Region" of the Chinese People’s Republic, which corresponds roughly to the region of the Gelukpa state at Lhasa in 1950, this includes less than half of the Tibetan population within the Chinese People’s Republic.

Several other Chinese provinces (Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu) include substantial Tibetan populations. Other culturally Tibetan regions include Ladakh, Zanskar, [[Lahul], Spiti, Kinnaur and Sikkim in India, much of Northern Nepal, and the independent kingdom of Bhutan.


Tibet is a sparsely populated mountainous country with India and Nepal to its south and China to its north and east. Envoys from the Tibetan king first brought Vajrayāna Buddhism to Tibet from India in the 7th century, but the religion only became firmly established after the 11th century. Since then, nearly all Tibetans have been Buddhists.


In 1951 the communist government of China invaded Tibet and, after a revolt against their occupation in 1959, they began a brutal campaign to destroy Buddhism and Tibetan identity. Today, a degree of religious freedom has returned to Tibet and Buddhism there is undergoing something of a reformation. Some half a million Tibetan refugees in India still practise their religion with great devotion. A Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lāma, is both the spiritual and secular leader of the Tibetan people, although he now lives in exile in India.

The Cultural History of Tibet, D.L. Snellgrove and H.E. Richardson,1968.

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