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The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of ChinaA Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation$
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Peter Schwieger

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231168526

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231168526.001.0001

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(p.219) Conclusion
The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China

Peter Schwieger

Columbia University Press

This concluding chapter summarizes key points in the preceding discussions and presents some final thoughts. It argues that from the time the Qing emperors began enforcing their sovereignty over Tibet in the early part of the eighteenth century right until the end of the nineteenth century, none of the Dalai Lamas exercised any political power of his own. But in their efforts to attain social and political stability, the Qing emperors had fashioned the Dalai Lama into the sacred head of the Ganden Podrang government, and thus inadvertently helped promote the image of Tibet as a country guided by the incarnations of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. After more than two centuries, when the institution of the Dalai Lama was occupied once again by charismatic personalities, this image had become such a strong force in Tibetan politics that it could no longer be controlled by the new Chinese governments.

Keywords:   Qing emperors, Tibet, Dalai Lama, political power, incarnation, bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, Tibetan politics

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