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The young man on the white horse and his strange retinue moved slowly over the windswept Tibetan tableland into 16,000-foot-high mountain passes and through clouds of incense smoke, escorted by picturesque guards and heralded by long trumpets. The Chinese army moved toward Tibet from western China in early October, carrying their heavy equipment by yak and truck and, after some bitter but indecisive engagements, came to the city of Chamdo where the archaic Tibetan army waited to repel them. When word arrived at the Dalai Lama's pal ace, his counselors immediately began planning tile escape route (map, opposite page). Although the expedition's destination, Yatung, is only 284 miles from Lhasa, progress was painfully slow and the halfway point, Gyangtse (right), was not reached until Dec.
The Dalai Lama was accustomed to such violent veneration but not to the great, wide world he was now seeing.
Two weeks after they left Lhasa the Dalai Lama s party filed down from the windy heights through precipitous passes into the relatively warm and fertile Chumbi valley and reached Yatung, a cluster of villages only 6 miles from the Indian border. Despite hardships of the terrain, climate and the unaccustomed length of his journey, the Dalai Lama during the 15 days almost constantly found himself in a home away from home.
At every stop the familiar white scarves, a Tibetan signal of deep respect (below), were proffered him or his aides to be blessed by the Dalai Lama or even looked at by him and returned to the overjoyed owner. The Dalai Lama, the "Living Buddha" and god-king of Tibet, was Seeing his capital, Lhasa, before Communist invaders. The young Dalai Lama's advisers remembered an ancient Tibetan prophecy which held that the line of Dalai Lamas, which began six centuries ago, would end with the 13th. The consensus of their disjointed prophetic mutterings was that the Dalai Lama should be in- stalled at once. Set in the remote heart of Asia, Tibet consists of some 500,000 square miles of towering plateau land, whose 16,000-foot average elevation makes it as thin of air as of population.
The Chinese massed before the city and one night lobbed a brilliant but innocuous display of star shells and rockets over Chamdo. There he rejoined his brothers and his mother, Gyayum Chhemo, which means Great Mother of the Kingdom, who had left Lhasa two days ahead of him. For a month the Dalai Lama resided in the home of the district governor, now renamed the Heavenly Palace of Universal Light and Peace. With the country lying open to them, the Communists have slowed their advance, announcing that their only purpose is to protect Tibet from "imperialists." They say they want the Dalai Lama to continue administering Tibet's internal affairs.


His personal furniture (above) was carried with him and the tsampa (parched barley flour) that he ate was, as usual, ground by his private millers. This age-old veneration of such blessed white cloths once led to difficulties when the 13th Dalai Lama similarly fled his capital in 1910 in the face of Chinese invasion. At each tea stop he left 10 dotse ($30) as a present for assisting natives, and at overnight stops he left 20 dotse. Harrer is an Austrian alpinist and engineer who was interned in India when World War II began, escaped to Tibet where he found work and developed an interest in photography.
In his company was an Austrian engineer with a camera, whose pictures tell the remarkable story of the epochal flight. In mid-November a gala holiday celebrated his coronation, and the people hung new prayer flags--cloths on which prayers are written and, moved by the wind, forever waft their message to Tibet's thousands of gods. Late at night yak-butter tea was served him in his gold-and-silver-fitted porcelain cup and he drank cups of it until he said formally, "No more." Then another cup was poured as a sign that he was expected to return soon. To 20th Century Communist Russia, Tibet could make a useful airbase, halfway between Moscow and Indonesia.
Outside the major towns the Dalai Lama dismounted from whatever horse or mule he was riding (he presently developed saddlesores), got into a sedan chair and was borne into the settlement in state. 27), which a noble translates for him, he has a deep curiosity about New York's skyscrapers. However light and peaceful, it proved very cold as it lay in a high-walled valley that got few hours of winter sun each day.
Wherever he went he was offered the yak-butter tea of which the average Tibetan drinks 30 to 50 cups a day, a fact incomprehensible to foreigners since it is made of Chinese tea, boiled in water flavored with soda, into which is churned salt and a generous helping of sometimes rancid yak butter.
He settled for a time in Kalimpong, India, where the sheets in which he slept were rever- ently taken each morning from his bed, torn to strips and distributed among his followers. However, once he had slept in a room in a private house, as he often did, that room could never again be used by ordinary beings but was preserved as a shrine. Since he is only 15, he had been ruling through a regent and had not yet been formally installed, a rite which customarily occurs at 18.
Some 2,000 miles of its southern border adjoins an ultimate target: the Indian subcontinent. High officials came out to bow before him, burned incense piles and begged the favor of his personal blessing, a head pat.


Such reverence is befitting a god-king whose subjects believe he is the reincarnation of the original Buddha and who is "discovered" as such by a host of mystic signs. The awed Tibetan general decided word must be carried, at once to Lhasa that the enemy was attacking in strength. On the second day the caravan passed the famous Jang monastery where 4000 visiting lamas had gathered for annual prayers. According to Tibetan religion, when a Dalai Lama dies his spirit may roam for a time in the "heavenly fields" before reincarnating itself in a newborn child, and it is the delicate job of the land's high lamas to find that child. Then, with several hundred selected guards and attendants, he started his lonely trek through the winter darkness. After the 13th Dalai Lama died and was embalmed with salt, his face supposedly turned toward the northeast. Left leaderless, Chamdo and much of the Tibetan army fell to the Reds without a drop of blood being shed.
The general, recalled on his way to Lhasa by soldiers sent to inform him the attack was a fake, returned to Chamdo and was promptly taken prisoner by the Chinese troops occupying the city. There were three major mountain passes, one of them 16,600 feet above sea level, to cross and swift rivers, negotiated by fragile boats made of yaks' skins.
So the high lamas sought out three boys in northeastern Tibet and subjected them to physical and occult tests, including the unknowing selection of holy objects from an assortment of things.
Against the gloomy cold (the average winter temperature in this area is 240 below zero) the young Dalai Lama wore a rich coat of dark red silk lined with fur, a fur hat and woolen muffler, although when he approached towns he sometimes changed into dressier silks. Two-year- old Lhamo Dhondup, as he was then known, was thus recognized and brought to Lhasa with his family, and the strenuous training in Tibet's religion and in his future administrative duties was begun.
The capture of his sacred person by foreigners would be not merely a national disaster in Tibet but a religious catastrophe. Customarily the tea was boiled over a fire of yak dung which is the national fuel since so much of Tibet is barren of wood.



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