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By K. Dhondup

A heritage of the seventeenth and 18th century Tibet, facing the interval from the 1st to the fifth Dalai Lama and the unification of Tibet.

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Extra info for The Water Horse and Other Years. A History of 17th and 18th Century Tibet

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Losang Rinchen Tsanyang Gyatso, the newly discovered Dalai Lama, was born to a reputed Nyingma tantric family descended from the famed Terton (“Treasure text finder”) Pema Lingpa of Bhutan (1450-1521). A tall, handsome, talented, and intelligent youth, he loved archery and the carefree outdoor life more than the strict training of a monastic surrounding. Though the learned Desi himself trained the young Dalai Lama in the religious and political world, and invited the Panchen Rinpoche and other selected Lama scholars to tutor him, Tsanyang Gyatso daily took to the nearby parks and valleys in Lhasa, practising archery with his friends and enjoying the charm of nature.

Kings of the neighbouring kingdoms of Sikkim, Nepal, and Ladakh and the Indian states sent their representatives to Lhasa to honour the inauguration of Ganden Phodrang 'm 1642. Sikkimese history records that the Dalai Lama assured full assistance and support to the first king of Sikkim, Phuntsok Namgyal (1604-1644). D. 636), the Dalai Lama instructed Desi Sonam Chophel to take a census of the country. While the census was taken in Tod and Tsang in 1643 by Desi Sonam Chophel, the province of Kham was counted by rwo officials, Lakhangpa and Bagdro, in 1648.

Though negotiations took place, no agreement was reached. As a result trade between Bhutan and Tibet came to a halt and the trade routes at Phari and Tsona were closed. In 1676, Bhutanese attacked Sikkim and captured the Chumbi Valley. Again a Tibetan army marched on the Bhutanese, who withdrew from Sikkim and gave up the Chumbi Valley. The Panchen Lama has played an important role as the peacekeeper of Bhutan and Tibetan relations ever since 1623, when the First Panchen Lama visited Bhutan. Tibetan relations with Ladakh were strained when Delek Namgyal, the Ladakh king, harassed Gelugpa monasteries in Ladakh and sent troops to attack some western Tibetan districts.

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