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Religious Developments In Asia Essay

2565 words - 11 pages

Recent religious developments in Asia reflect the social and political developments in the region'. Discuss this statement drawing on specific religious developments.Tibet, which is often referred to as 'the roof of the world', lies at the centre of Asia, with an area of 2.5 million square kilometres. The earth's highest mountains, a vast arid plateau and great river valleys make up the physical homeland of 6 million Tibetans. It has an average altitude of 13,000 feet above sea level (Tibet at a Glance 1996). Tibet is the traditional home of Tibetan Buddhism which, historically, has played an extremely important part in the lives of the people of Tibet. Social and political changes within ...view middle of the document...

On October 1, 1949, Mao Tse-tung proclaimed the People's Republic in China which resulted in a centralized and tightly controlled government rule within the area. The new, governmental regime in China began a campaign of expanding and consolidating its power and took control of disputed territories within the region. On October 7, 1959, the Chinese People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet and incorporated it into China as the Tibetan Autonomous region. A small Tibetan army, without help from the outside world, was no match for the power of People's Liberation Army. On May 23, 1951, the Tibetan people were offered a choice of 'peaceful liberation' or annihilation by the Chinese. Since this time it is believed that more than a million Tibetans have died due to starvation, execution and imprisonment (Craig 1999). During this time, His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was forced to flee to India. He was followed by thousands of monks and Tibetan lay people. Kvaerne (1984, p. 267) argues that '80 000 Tibetans have sought refuge in India'. During his exile in India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has headed the Tibetan Government in Exile in Dharamsala.The Tibetan Government in Exile is based in India and is headed by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and maintains to be the rightful government of Tibet. The Tibetan administration in India considers the occupation of Tibet to be an illegitimate military occupation and, from its base in India, seeks to liberate Tibet and its people from control of the Chinese government. The Tibetan Government in Exile governs the large number of Tibetans in exile in India providing schools, health services, and cultural activities for the Tibetan community within India. It also provides many services for Tibetan refugees who continue to make the arduous journey on foot from Tibet to India via Nepal. The Dalai Lama and his exiled government have attempted to settle their differences through negotiation with the Chinese Government; however, little progress has been made and issues within the region remain unchanged.The invasion by the People's Liberation Army brought the destruction to the cultural and religious traditions of Tibet with thousands of monasteries being destroyed. Before the Chinese invasion, monasteries and temples, which housed resident monks and nuns, were found in almost every village and town and every home had an altar. Before 1959, there were more than 6,259 monasteries which housed 592,558 resident monks and nuns (Tibetan Government in Exile 1996). Within these monasteries were thousands of religious artifacts and works on literature, medicine and politics. Tibetan Buddhism played such a central role in their lives that their national identity had become synonymous with their religion. During the Cultural Revolution thousands of people starved, were imprisoned, or were executed and many people fled Tibet for refugee communities in the neighboring states of India, Nepal, and Bhutan. The...

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