My Son, the Dalai Lama

He was different from my other children. He was always packing his clothes and saying he was going to Lhasa.

Almost three years after the birth of Lonsang Samten, I gave birth toLhamo Dhondup, who was to become the fourteenth Dalai Lama. My husbandwas bedridden with illness for two months prior to Lhamo Dhondup's birth. If he tried to stand up, he felt giddy and lost consciousness. Hetold me that each time this happened, he saw the faces of his parents.He could not sleep at night, and this was very difficult because he keptme awake and I had to work during the day. I thought he was playing acruel trick on me, but now I know this was not so. It was just one of aseries of strange happenings in the three years that preceded the birth.

During that time our horses seemed to go mad, one by one. When webrought them water, they raced for it and then began rolling about init. They could neither eat nor drink. Their necks stiffened, and finallythey could not even walk. All thirteen of them died. It was such adisgrace to the family and a great loss, for horses were money. Afterthis there was a famine for three years. We had not a drop of rain, onlyhail, which destroyed all the crops. Everyone was at the point ofstarvation. Families began to migrate until only thirteen households wereleft out of forty-five. My family survived solely because the monasteryof Kumbum supported us and supplied us with food. We lived on lentils,rice, and peas that came from their stores.


Lhamo Dhondup was born early in the morning, before sunrise. To mysurprise, my husband had gotten out of bed and it seemed as if he hadnever been sick. I told him that I had a boy, and he replied that thissurely was no ordinary boy and that we would make him a monk. ChushiRinpoche from Kumbum had passed away, and we hoped that this newbornwould be his reincarnation. We had no more deaths or other strangeincidents or misfortunes after his birth. The rains came, and prosperityreturned, after years of destitution.

Lhamo Dhondup was different from my other children right from the start.He was a somber child who liked to stay indoors by himself. He wasalways packing his clothes and his little belongings. When I asked whathe was doing, he would reply that he was packing to go to Lhasa andwould take all of us with him. When we went to visit friends orrelatives, he never drank tea from any cup but mine. He never let anyoneexcept me touch his blankets and he never placed them anywhere but nextto mine. If he came across a quarrelsome person, he would pick up astick and try to beat him. If ever one of our guests lit up a cigarette,he would flare into a rage. Our friends told us that for someunaccountable reason they were afraid of him, tender in years as he was.This was all when he was over a year old and could hardly talk. One dayhe told us that he had come from heaven....

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Diki Tsering
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