His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. He was eventually awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest-level degree equivalent to a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy.
In 1950 His Holiness was called upon to assume full political power after China’s invasion of Tibet in 1949. In 1954, he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and Chou Enlai. But finally, in 1959, with the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, His Holiness was forced to escape into exile. Since then, he has been living in Dharamsala, northern India, the seat of the Tibetan political administration in exile. Since the Chinese invasion, His Holiness has appealed to the United Nations on the question of Tibet. The General Assembly adopted three resolutions on Tibet in 1959, 1961 and 1965.
In September 1987 His Holiness proposed the Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet as the first step towards a peaceful solution to the worsening situation in Tibet. He envisaged that Tibet would become a sanctuary; a zone of peace at the heart of Asia, where all sentient beings can exist in harmony and the delicate environment can be preserved.
In May 1990, the reforms called for by His Holiness saw the realisation of a truly democratic administration in exile for the Tibetan community. The Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag), which till then had been appointed by His Holiness, was dissolved along with the Tenth Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan parliament in exile).
In September 2001, a further major step in democratisation was taken when the Tibetan electorate directly elected the Kalon Tripa, the senior-most minister of the Cabinet. The Kalon Tripa in turn appointed his own cabinet who had to be approved by the Tibetan Assembly. In Tibet’s long history, this was the first time that the people elected the political leadership of Tibet.
Since 1959, His Holiness has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. His Holiness has also authored more than 72 books.
His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.