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.

BY: Diki Tsering

 

Almost three years after the birth of Lonsang Samten, I gave birth to Lhamo Dhondup, who was to become the fourteenth Dalai Lama. My husband was bedridden with illness for two months prior to Lhamo Dhondup's birth. If he tried to stand up, he felt giddy and lost consciousness. He told 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 kept me awake and I had to work during the day. I thought he was playing a cruel trick on me, but now I know this was not so. It was just one of a series of strange happenings in the three years that preceded the birth.

During that time our horses seemed to go mad, one by one. When we brought them water, they raced for it and then began rolling about in it. They could neither eat nor drink. Their necks stiffened, and finally they could not even walk. All thirteen of them died. It was such a disgrace to the family and a great loss, for horses were money. After this there was a famine for three years. We had not a drop of rain, only hail, which destroyed all the crops. Everyone was at the point of starvation. Families began to migrate until only thirteen households were left out of forty-five. My family survived solely because the monastery of 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 my surprise, my husband had gotten out of bed and it seemed as if he had never been sick. I told him that I had a boy, and he replied that this surely was no ordinary boy and that we would make him a monk. Chushi Rinpoche from Kumbum had passed away, and we hoped that this newborn would be his reincarnation. We had no more deaths or other strange incidents or misfortunes after his birth. The rains came, and prosperity returned, 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 was always packing his clothes and his little belongings. When I asked what he was doing, he would reply that he was packing to go to Lhasa and would take all of us with him. When we went to visit friends or relatives, he never drank tea from any cup but mine. He never let anyone except me touch his blankets and he never placed them anywhere but next to mine. If he came across a quarrelsome person, he would pick up a stick 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 some unaccountable 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 day he told us that he had come from heaven....

When Lhamo Dhondup was a little more than two years old, the search party for the fourteenth Dalai Lama visited our home in Takster.... That evening we were summoned by the party. They were seated on the

kang

in their room. In front of them were a bowl of candy, two rosaries, and two

damarus

(ritual hand drums). They offered our son the candy bowl, from which he selected one piece and gave it to me. He then went and sat with them. From a very young age Lhamo Dhondup always sat eye to eye with everyone, never at anyone's feet, and people told me that I was spoiling him. He then selected a rosary from the table and a

damaru,

both of which, it turned out, had belonged to the thirteenth Dalai Lama.

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