Scholar talks about 6th Dalai Lama's poems

2012-01-06 11:30:00 | From:

Editor's note: Currently Yang Enhong, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, took an interview of China Tibet Online. Having been working in Nagqu Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region for 12 years, Yang is famous for her achievements in Tibetan literature. Loving Tibetan culture as well as Tibetan people, she made friends with many folk artists and writers.

China Tibet Online: The 6th Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso's poems are so hot now, especially after the film If You Are the One 2 was released. Some even imitate him to write poems,  which can mix the spurious with the genuine. How do you understand such phenomena?

 Yang Enhong

 Yang Enhong, researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Yang Enhong: I love his poems very much. He lived in a special era with special conditions: he was not enthroned until he was 15 years old. That is to say he lived in the Lhoka where people favored the poetry of "Xie" (four sentences with each sentence containing six words). He was deeply influenced by the poetry and that influence didn't stop after he moved to Potala Palace.

When I worked in Tibet, we collected his poems. Some got 50 ones while some say they collected 70 ones.That is not an exact number yet. As a Dalai Lama without much political achievement, he occupies an important role in literary history. We can say that his writing comes from the folk and returns to the folk.

Now many fans imitate him to write. That is an interesting thing, which shows their enthusiasm for his poems.

The 6th Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso

 Tsangyang Gyatso [Photo/China Wiki]

Background: Tsangyang Gyatso (March 1, 1683 – Nov. 15, 1706) was the 6th Dalai Lama. He was a rebellious Buddhist icon who wrote romantic poems about Buddhism and love that are still popular today. They have been quoted in novels, other poems and movies. Two of his love poems became particularly popular after the release of the comedy If You Are the One 2 in December 2010, whose theme song borrows lines from his poem Better Not to Meet.

Born on March 1, 1683 to a serf family in southern Tibet, Tsangyang's life was full of twists and turns. Some accounts say Tsangyang was discovered in 1688 as the reincarnation of the 5th Dalai Lama Lozang Gyatso, six years after Lozang's death. The Regent Desi Sangye Gyatso had kept the death a secret to maintain the stability of his administration. However, Tsangyang was officially discovered in 1697, after Emperor Kangxi finally heard about the death of the 5th Dalai Lama and ordered an explanation from the Regent. The Regent then sent a delegation to Beijing announcing the death of the 5th Dalai Lama and the discovery of the 6th Dalai Lama. Tsangyang was enthroned in October of that year.

As Dalai Lama, Tsangyang often went against the principles of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and rejected life as a monk. He preferred drinking, writing love songs and poems. He also had no real power and was essentially a puppet of the Regent, who plotted to assassinate Lhasang Khan, the newly enthroned king of the Khoshut Mongols and ally of Emperor Kangxi. When a war broke out in 1705, the Regent was killed, and Lhasang Khan deposed Tsangyang the following year, using his behavior as an excuse. Emperor Kangxi ordered Tsangyang to Beijing for questioning. On his trip, Tsangyang mysteriously died in Xining at the age of 24. Yet, rumors and legends say he had escaped, traveling and dying at 64.

While being taken out of Lhasa, Tsangyang wrote a poem in which some say foretold his rebirth: "White crane, lend me your wings. I will not fly far. From Lithang I shall return."

(Some of the background information is from

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