This introductory chapter sets out the three central questions addressed by the present study: How did the political role of the trülku position develop? What was its nature in various circumstances? And how did the Emperor of China try to influence this role? At the heart of this history is the relationship between the Dalai Lamas (or their regents) and the Emperor of China. Examining the political aspects of the trülku position is crucial to understanding Tibet's past and present situation. It is also essential to understanding the Qing as an Inner Asian empire, the fate of the Mongols, and the current problems in Sino-Tibetan relations. The remainder of the chapter discusses the basic sources used in the study; the rise of Tibetan culture; and the Buddhist theory and practice underlying the political role of trülkus.
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