was non-negotiable for Dalai Lama's brother
By Mayank Chhaya
Chicago, Sep 7 (IANS) Thubten Jigme Norbu, the elder brother
of Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama who died last
week in the US, considered the status of Tibet "non-negotiable"
throughout his life.
Asked during an interview four years ago in Bloomington, Indiana,
whether he agreed with the idea that Tibetans should settle
for autonomy rather than independence, Norbu, who was also
known as Takster Rinpoche, said: "No, I do not, but I
also know that you cannot get anything more from the Chinese.
The status of Tibet must be Tibet, nothing else.
"If we don't achieve that I think in the future there
will be no Tibetans in Tibet. Period. In two generations there
will be no Tibetans in Tibet. See what is happening in Inner
Mongolia. There are four million Mongols but you cannot find
10 Mongols together in the capital Khokhot," Norbu said.
In 1926, at age four, Norbu was chosen as the reincarnation
of an important lama by the prestigious Kumbum monastery in
the province of Amdo. He learned to live in his younger brother's
shadow without a trace of sibling rivalry. He lived over 50
years out of his 90 outside Tibet.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: You were made an offer by the Chinese that if you overthrew
the Dalai Lama, you would be made the governor general of
A: Yes, there were quite a few people who kept talking about
making me the governor general in return for overthrowing
my brother. They would come to me every day and tell me all
sorts of things. They would criticise everything from our
habits to our clothes. They would comment on our robes saying
we wasted so much cloth in those robes and wasted so much
money. They would say just wear a jacket and pants.
Q: Is it true that they even encouraged you to commit fratricide
to achieve the objective of ending the Dalai Lama's rule?
A: Yes, they said so in so many words. They said they would
destroy everything Tibetan, its religion, its culture, its
customs and so on. They said if His Holiness does not cooperate
with the Communists, then you should kill him.
Q: You eventually told His Holiness about the Chinese suggestion.
How did he react?
A: When I finally met His Holiness and told him what the Chinese
were up to, he remained very calm. He just waived his hand
as if he was brushing away an evil spectre. He asked me to
rise. We both looked into each other's eyes. I could see nothing
but sympathy and concern for me through his thick glasses.
I left soon after that.
Q: The Dalai Lama is optimistic that the issue will be resolved
in his lifetime. Are you that optimistic?
A: At this moment I cannot say anything.
Q: What role can India play?
A: India should recognise His Holiness' government. That is
crucial. That will help. Once that happens, then the situation
will change. Doors will open up.
Q: What about the United States?
A: I don't think the US can do anything because the US is
interested in green paper (dollars) and how much Mr. Coffee
they can sell. They are not concerned with Tibetans' suffering.
They are concerned with trade.
Q: What is the best deal that China can offer?
A: The Tibetan people must say that China must leave Tibet.
They must react.
Q: Would you like to visit Lhasa?
A: No, what for? I went in 1980. I regret that. What would
one do there? The Chinese do not let you move around freely.
The few Tibetans who meet you cry about the state of affairs.
I am a human being. I feel a lot of pain.
Q: What kind of conversation do you have with the Dalai Lama?
A: I always say that the status of Tibet is not negotiable.
Tibet is Tibet.
Q: What are the Dalai Lama's most striking qualities as a
A: He has no selfishness about him. He treats everyone as
an equal. We might say those things in words but cannot do
so in practice. I know all human beings are equal but I cannot
always practice that. He always does.
Q: Is he the last Dalai Lama?
A: I don't think so. That will depend on Tibet. If it is up
to Tibet and Tibetans, it is guaranteed that he is not the
last Dalai Lama. If there is Tibet, there must be a Dalai
(Mayank Chhaya is the Chicago-based author of the Dalai Lama's
authorised biography. He can be reached at email@example.com