In the given passage the Dalai Lama is described in his flight from Lhasa to Yatung in order that he is not captured by the invading Red Chinese army.
This essay concerns the thoughts and discussions on the Dalai Lama by two disparate groups of people. These are the Americans and of course the Tibetans who worship him as a God-King. It must be noted here that the Tibetans believe that the Dalai Lama is literally a reincarnation of the original Buddha. We must also keep in mind that the source of the passage is an American magazine written in 1951 and so everything we read is seen through this lens as the magazine is aimed at a mainly American audience.
The Dalai Lama is described in the article as a young hero being forced to flee from his ancient home by an implacable foe. The text seems both formal and romantic as when ...view middle of the document...
Also, at every stop he blesses white scarves for his many followers. These are traditionally held to show the deepest respect. The Dalai Lama in return leaves money for the helpers at each tea stop. The article tries to show that the Dalai Lama is genuine when describing his spending an hour in solitary meditation. He is also shown to be humble in slipping quietly out of his palace at the unseemly hour of two in the morning.
To western eyes it might seem strange that the Tibetans believe the Dalai Lama to be discovered by a “host of mystic signs” (ibid) such as rainbows and particular cloud formations. He was also put through various tests involving picking out selected holy items and passing occult tests.
The article does give a somewhat compromised statement when stating that with “several hundred selected guards and attendants” the Dalai Lama started his “lonely trek” (ibid) through the winter darkness. The article is using dramatic licence here in trying to show just how much this young religious leader is a man to be admired and respected by the people of the west.
We are also at a time when the cold war between the western powers and the communist east has begun. The very idea of communism pushing into other countries is abhorrent to the delicate American psyche. This is stated tersely as “Two months before, the Chinese Reds had invaded Tibet.” (ibid) In the heated atmosphere of this time it takes very little to get this particular audience on to the side of the escaping Dalai Lama.
This article would seem to be designed to bring an exciting new religious celebrity to an American audience in as positive a light as possible. It is designed to convey him as studious, hardworking, loyal and wise. The capture of this man-god by the Chinese would have been “not merely a national disaster in Tibet but a religious catastrophe”. (ibid) His escape, on the other hand, is seen as a victory for good (capitalist west) and a defeat for the evil of communism.