plateau region in Asia

Tibet is a region on the Tibetan Plateau in Asia. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groupss such as Monpa, Qiang and Lhoba peoples and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 meters. The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, earth's highest mountain rising 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level.

Painting of Tibetan landscape by Nicholas Roerich.


  • The Chinese have killed directly and indirectly - torture, immolations, deaths in prison – more than a million Tibetans… One-sixth of our population…
    • Dalai Lama, quoted from François Gautier - Les mots du dernier Dalaï-lama (2018, Flammarion)
  • Just before we left Lhasa, I was told that the six border guards had been tried and sentenced in Lhasa's military court. The leader was to have his nose and both ears cut off. The man who fired the first shot was to lose both ears. A third man was to lose one ear, and the others were to get 50 lashes each. (...) Since the Tibetan Buddhists do not believe in capital punishment, mutilation is the stiffest sentence given in Tibet. But I felt that this punishment was too severe, so I asked if it could be lightened. My request was granted. The new sentences were: 200 lashes each for the leader and the man who fired the first shot, 50 lashes for the third man and 25 each for the other.
  • In the seventh century of our era the enlightened warrior, Srong-tsan Gampo, established an able government in Tibet, annexed Nepal, built Lhasa as his capital, and made it rich as a halfway house in Chinese-Indian trade. Having invited Buddhist monks to come from India and spread Buddhism and education among his people, he retired from rule for four years in order to learn how to read and write, and inaugurated the Golden Age of Tibet. Thousands of monasteries were built in the mountains and on the great plateau; and a voluminous Tibetan canon of Buddhist books was published, in three hundred and thirty-three volumes, which preserved for modern scholarship many works whose Hindu originals have long been lost. Here, eremitically sealed from the rest of the world, Buddhism developed into a maze of superstitions, monasticism and ecclesiasticism rivaled only by early medieval Europe; and the Dalai Lama (or “All-Embracing Priest”), hidden away in the great Potala monastery that overlooks the city of Lhasa, is still believed by the good people of Tibet to be the living incarnation of the Bodhisattwa Avalokiteshvafa.
    • Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage : India and Her Neighbors.
  • The purpose of this school was not . . . the study of the great Indian treatises . . . but the development of Nyingma monasticism in Kham, a particularly important task at that time. Up to then, the Nyingma tradition had mostly relied on non-ordained tantric practitioners to transmit its teachings through authorized lineages. The move toward monasticism changed this situation, putting a greater emphasis on the respect of exoteric moral norms of behavior as a sign of spiritual authority. This move participated in the logic animating the nonsectarian movement, the revitalization of non-Geluk traditions so that they could compete with the dominant Geluk school. Since the Geluk hegemony was based on a widespread monastic practice, it was important for the other schools to develop their own monasticism to rival the dominant Geluk tradition. This seems to have been one the goals of Zhanphan Thaye in creating the Dzokchen commentarial school. . . .A further and equally important step was taken a few decades later with the transformation by [Khenpo] Zhenga of this institution into a center devoted to the study of the exoteric tradition. This step was decisive in creating a scholastic model that could provide an alternative to the dominant model of the Geluk seats and could train scholars who could hold their own against the intellectual firing power of Geluk scholars.
For Zhenga and his followers, the way to return to this past was the exegetical study of commentaries, the proper object of scholarship. By downplaying the role of debate emphasized by the Geluk monastic seats and stressing exegetical skills, they accentuated the differences between these two traditions and provided a clear articulation of a non-Geluk scholastic tradition. In this way, they started the process of reversal of the damage inflicted on the non-Geluk scholarly traditions and created an alternative to the dominance of Geluk scholasticism, which had often tended to present itself in Tibet as the sole inheritor and legitimate interpreter of the classical Indian Buddhist tradition.
  • Georges Dreyfus "Where do Commentarial Schools come from? Reflections on the History of Tibetan Scholasticism" Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies Vol. 28, Nr 2 2006. pgs 273-297
  • [A]t least in Eastern Tibet, there existed during and after the time of Lha-tho-tho-ri [Fl.173(?)-300(?) CE] a solid knowledge of Buddhism and that the upper classes of the people were faithfully devoted to it. But the border regions in the north and west probably had also come into contact with Buddhism long before the time of Srong-btsan-sgam-po. Buddhist teachings reached China via a route along the western and northern borders of the Tibetan culture and language zone; the same route was travelled by Indian Pandits and Chinese pilgrims in their endeavour to bring this Indian religion to China. There used to be contacts with the Tibetan population in these border regions. It is possible that the knowledge gained from these encounters was spread by merchants over large areas of Tibet. Thus, when Srong-btsan-sgam-po succeeded to the throne of Tibet in the year 627, the country was ready for a systematic missionary drive under royal patronage.
    • Eva M. Dargyay (author) & Wayman, Alex (editor)(1998). The Rise of Esoteric Buddhism in Tibet. Second revised edition, reprint. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt Ltd. Buddhist Tradition Series Vol.32. ISBN 81-208-1579-3 (paper) p.5
  • Since it was invaded by China in the fifties, Tibet suffers one of the most brutal religious persecutions of the century. The 7000 monks who 40 years ago housed the monastery of Drepung, today there are just 500.
  • In Tibet, where they say there are no limits to the past and future secrets [...].
  • Nehru's absolute refusal to support the Tibetans even at the diplomatic level when they were overrun by the Chinese army, cannot just be attributed to circumstances or the influence of collaborators: his hand-over of Tibet to communist China was quite consistent with his own political convictions.
    • Elst Koenraad. Negationism in India, (1992)
  • A retired Indian Army commander has explained to me how an intervention force well within India's capacity, could have stopped the Chinese in Eastern Tibet. It would have been a war, but it would have been a genuine war of independence, and the number of casualties would have been far less than the lakhs of Tibetans that have by now been killed by the Chinese occupation force. Short, for such a noble cause, a prime minister with a kshatriya spirit would have gone in. And failing that, he could have opened a diplomatic offensive. But he chose to totally betray Tibet.
    • Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • Over a million Tibetans have died because of Communist massacres and organized famines; forced sterilizations (which the 1948 UN convention on genocide considers a full-blooded act of genocide) have taken place on a proportionately large scale. But this is hotly denied or at least strongly minimized by the regime and its supporters abroad. Like the Holocaust negationists, our Communist negationists prefer to de-emphasize the real issue, and to draw the attention towards fault-finding with the victims, and towards the aggressor's glorious achievements. Thus the old system in Tibet was an obscurantist, archfedual, even cannibalist theocracy, and the Tibetans have been lucky to be forced into enjoying the benefits of Maoism. While the communist version of pre-communist history (defended abroad by A.T. Grunfeld in: The Making of Modern Tibet) is a grim caricature, it is true that Tibetan society needed social as well as material modernization; but this does not justify the occupation of the country, any more than it would justify the European colonization (which had equally been advertised as a generous act of helping the natives to modernize). Non-colonized Japan adopted modernization much faster and more smoothly than any colonized country, and left to itself, the modernization which had already been started by the 13th Dalai Lama would certainly have picked up momentum over the years and done a lot more good to Tibet than any colonization could. At any rate, none of these considerations anyhow justifies the gradual genocide which the Chinese occupiers have been carrying out in Tibet. Like the Holocaust negationists, our Communist negationists are very inventive when it comes to explaining away inconvenient facts. In 1989, when journalist and Tibet-lover Frans Boenders had reported how he had heard a long round of shooting from his hotel room in Lhasa, the president of the Belgo-Chinese Friendship Association dismissed the report, saying that Mr. Boenders, because of his lack of familiarity with local culture, had mistaken festive fireworks for gunfire. Some months later, a defecting Chinese official revealed that 1988-89 had been a time of intense repression in Tibet, including a razzia with 460 people killed in April 1989.
    • Elst Koenraad. Negationism in India, (1992)
  • Today, China uses history to recast its invasion and occupation of Tibet as not anything of the sort. In the view of the Chinese government, it simply reasserted its historical rights, which had been established over the centuries. Taiwan, at least to the Chinese, presents a similar case. As Zhou Enlai said to Henry Kissinger in 1972, “History also proves that Taiwan has belonged to 'China for more than a thousand years—a longer period than Long Island has been part of the U.S.” In fact, history proves no such thing. In the case of Tibet, it is true that Dalai Lamas from time to time recognized the mandate of heaven of the emperor in far-off China, but for most of the time, the remote mountain land was left to its own devices. Taiwan has even looser ties with China. It was too far across the sea for most Chinese dynasties to bother with. Only the last dynasty, the Qing, tried to assert some control, partly because the island had become a refuge for pirates and rebels.
  • We have done no better thing than this [agreeing that Tibet belongs to China] since we became independent.
    • Nehru to the Indian Parliament (1954). Quoted from Upadhya, S. (2015). Nepal and the geo-strategic rivalry between China and India. London : Routledge, 2015.
  • When Tibet was invaded by the Chinese Red Army in October 1950, .... the only reaction from Pandit Nehru was to start apologising for Peking immediately... Nothing could be done immediately to mobilise public opinion and put pressure on the Government of India to change its China policy... The meeting set up a Tibet Committee and announced a Tibet Day to be observed in September. But as soon as the news of this idea being mooted appeared in the press, the Prime Minister came out against it in a public statement issued the very next day. According to Hindustan Times dated August 26, "He referred to a report that some persons proposed to hold a Tibet Day. He thought that it was ill-advised and asked members not to take any interest in it." The Prime Minister felt annoyed with this effort. He put pressure on the press in New Delhi not to publish news of the Tibet Day demonstration and meeting... A few days later, the Prime Minister did something infinitely worse. Speaking on Foreign Affairs in the Rajya Sabha on September 23, he denounced and threatened the organisers of the Tibet Day in a language which was wild. He said:
    "Sometimes-not often, I am glad to say-some exuberant people organise some demonstration of other against friendly countries... Being a gallant band of three or four they demonstrate their wishes in this manner. Sometimes they demonstrate, at any rate they did a few days ago, against what they did not like, against the Chinese Government. Now, it is a trivial matter but I mention it because a member of this honourable House apparently, I believe, associated himself with this matter ... They proclaim a Tibet Day. Why anyone should proclaim a Tibet Day passes my comprehension, more especially at this juncture. Who the genius was who suggested it or whose bright idea it was, I do not know. But anyhow here was this Tibet Day about ten days ago-nobody has noticed it-but a dozen to two dozen persons marched through the streets of Delhi to proclaim their love of Tibet and marched to the Chinese Embassy and demonstrated in front of it with loud cries. Well, it is rather childish, all this and extraordinary that grown up persons should behave in this way and show up, because if a couple of dozen persons do this it does not indicate, if 1 may say so, any powerful body of opinion. In fact, it indicates their own smallness and folly. I mention this because it is perfectly ridiculous. I don't mind if anybody thinks so and wants to oppose us, not in argument or debate or even in public streets. Well, if he goes beyond a certain limit, any Government will have to take action. We don't take any action normally speaking. We have not, but what I want this House to consider is the extreme, well I use the word 'folly', of such activities. Members of this House do not attach any importance to it, I know. But there is the rest of the world which exaggerates and which may be interested in exaggerating these incidents which come at a moment when we seek help in delicate matters in developing a spirit of friendly cooperation and tries to create trouble." This statement was full of insinuations. Here was the Prime Minister of a democratic country showing extreme intolerance for, and interfering publicly with other people's freedom to think and express opinion about matters which concerned the security of the nation.
    • Statement by Nehru on Tibet. Quoted from S.R.Goel, Genesis and Growth of Nehruism, Vol I. [1]
  • A larger effort along these line was launched by our group in March 1952 from a new platform suggestively named Society for Defence of Freedom in Asia (SDFA). ... A Tibet Committee was organised in August 1953 and a Tibet Day was observed in September that year when a demonstration and a meeting were organised in New Delhi...But the programme could not be carried further than that because Prime Minister Nehru sprang a surprise with his Panchshila surrender over Tibet in April 1954, and the Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai movement misled the whole country soon after... It was perhaps the most painful experience of our lives to see the Prime Minister of a democratic country openly patronising the Chinese lobby led by the Communist Party of India, and angrily denouncing tried and tested patriots of a long standing in India's freedom movement... In August 1953, the SDFA organised a Tibet Committee which announced a Tibet Day to be observed in September. As many as 12 M.Ps including Professor N.G. Ranga were associated with the Committee. The Prime Minister came out against the Committee the day after it was formed. He called upon Congressmen not to associate with the Committee in any way...But since the SDFA could not be stopped from its own course of action, the Prime Minister used the floor of the Parliament to denounce the organisers of Tibet Day, and threatened them with Government action....
    • About Nehru, Tibet and Tibet Day. Quoted from S.R.Goel, Genesis and Growth of Nehruism, Vol I. [2]
  • Tibetans have been arrested for speaking with foreigners, possessing the autobiography of the Dalai Lama, or video-and-audiocassettes of his speeches, preparing a list of casualties of Chinese crackdowns, and advising friends to wear the traditional Tibetan costumes on the Chinese national day. In 2005, two monks were sentenced to eleven years in prison for hoisting the banned Tibetan flag. Incommunicado detention is routine. Torture is the expected form of interrogation. There is no right to trial in an open court; defense is permitted for mitigation of punishment, not for pleading innocence. Tibetans call judges "sentencing officers." The Chinese government vets all applicants for the monkhood and prohibits the performance of traditional rites. In July 2005, the Chinese chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region announced that China would choose the next Dalai Lama. The boy the Dalai Lama identified in 1995 as the next Panchen Lama (#2 in the Tibetan hierarchy) is under virtual house arrest, probably in Beijing. The Chinese government chose a different boy and, in June 2005, ordered monks to publicly greet him.
  • Sardar Patel warned Nehru: ‘Even though we regard ourselves as friends of China, the Chinese do not regard us as friends.” He wrote a famous letter in which he expressed deep concern over developments in Tibet, raising several important points. In particular, he noted that a free and friendly Tibet was vital for India’s security, and everything including military measures should be considered to ensure it.’
  • The Tibetans believe that it is not prudent to sleep with the light of day, as the demons of the day they can take over the sleepers. [...] No one escapes the rule, and even the dying have to stay awake as long as possible, so that they can recognize the correct path to take through the border territories to the other world.
The 108 is a sacred number in Tibet and ladies who had hair so abundant that they can be divided into such number of braids were considered fortunatissime.
Tibet was a theocratic country. We not wanted at all the "progress" of the other parts of the world; we just wanted to be able to meditate in peace and transcend the limitations of the flesh. Our sages had realized long ago that the West craved the wealth of Tibet and they knew that the coming of the foreigners meant the end of serenity. The current communist invasion of Tibet has demonstrated how they were right.
The wars in Tibet can be compared to a game of chess. If the king is eliminated, the game is won.
In Tibet, the animals are not pampered or enslaved; are creatures that need to serve a useful purpose, creatures having their rights, just as human beings.
In Tibet everything is decided by astrology, from the purchase of a yak to the careers of individuals.
In Tibet they are given to each two names, and the first is that of the day of the week you were born. I was born into the world on a Tuesday, so Tuesday was my first name.
We Tibetans are firmly convinced that the entire fate of individuals is written on his palm.

See also

  •   Encyclopedic article on Tibet on Wikipedia
  •   Media related to Tibet on Wikimedia Commons
  •   The dictionary definition of Tibet on Wiktionary