History of Tibet

The province-level administrative region of China “Tibet” is located in the southwestern part of the country. It is formally called the Tibetan (Chinese: Xizang) Autonomous Region (TAR). According to history, it has governed itself for some time as an independent state and at other times has had various levels of association with China. Apart from China’s participation in Tibetan associations, Tibet’s internal government was for centuries a theocracy (state governed by religious leaders), under the leadership of Buddhist lamas, or monks. In 1959 the Dalai Lama (spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and at that time the head of Tibet’s internal government) was exiled from m Tibet. Along with his assistants, the Dalai Lama fled to India during a Tibetan revolt against Chinese control in the region. Then, China took absolute control of Tibet and set up a sympathetic Tibetan ruler.  In 1965 China replaced the theocracy in Tibet and establish the Communist administration.

Tibet has had a golden history of 1,200 years, but the original inhabitants here appeared as early as the Paleolithic Age. Traditionally, Tibetans are not the only inhabitants of Tibet, they also disperse over other provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan among others. People believed that the Tibetans can be divided into three regions with different dialects, namely U-Tsang, Kham, and Amdo. U-Tsang covers most areas of Tibet now, including Lhasa, Shigatse, Shannan, Nyingchi, Ngari, and part of Chamdo. Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama manage the Usang and Tsang respectively. Normally Usang has its center at Lhasa and includes Shannan, Nyingchi, part of Chamdo and their circumjacent areas while Tsang points to the whole regions of Shigatse and has its center at Tashilhunpo Monastery. Kham refers to the east Chamdo region of Tibet and other Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures of Garze (Sichuan), Deqen (Yunnan), and Yushu (Qinghai). Amdo refers to Nakchu of Tibet and other large Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan.

Tibetan has a long history of thousands of years. However, the written history find only dates back to the 7th century when Songtsan Gampo, the 33rd Tibetan king, sent his minister Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit who on his return invented the present Tibetan script based on Sanskrit. Tibet's history can be divided into four periods as follow.

1. The Tsanpo's Period

This period starts from Nyatri Tsanpo, the first of the Tsanpos, in 127 B.C (historians differ in view of the date, but this date is taken from the White Annales, a reliable book on Tibetan history) and ends in 842 A.D. at the death of Lang Dharma, the last of the Tsanpos, who was assassinated by a Buddhist monk owing to Lang Dharma's ruthless persecution of Buddhism. During this period some 42 Tsanpos had ruled over Tibet among which Songtsan Gampo's rule was considered to be the zenith. Songtsan Gamoi was an outstanding ruler, he unified Tibet, changed his capital to Lhasa, sent Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit, and promulgated a script for the Tibetans on the latter's arrival to Tibet, married Princess Wencheng of the Tang court and Princess Bhrikuti Debi of Nepal, built the Potala and the temple of Jokhang

2. The period of Decentralization

This period began in 842 A.D. the year of Lang Dharma's assassination and ended in about 1260 A.D., when Pagpa, the Abbot of Sakya monastery, became a vassal of Kublai Khan, the first Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. During this period little is known in history except that Tibet became decentralized into a number of petty principalities.

3. The period of Sakya, Pagdu, and Karmapa's Rule

This period began with Sakya's rule over Tibet, followed first by Pagdu's rule in Lhaoka and then by Karmapa's rule in the Tsang region (Shigatse). The Sakya period was the time when Tibet officially became an inseparable part of China. This period lasted from 1260 A.D to 1642 A.D during which political powers centered in the three regions of Sakya, Pagdu, and Tsang successively ruled over Tibet.

4. The period of the Gandan Podrang's Administration

This period is the period in which the Dalai Lama ruled Tibet. It started in 1642 A.D. when the 5th Dalai Lama overtook the ruling power from the Tsang ruler. It basically ended in 1951 when Tibet was liberated and came to a complete end in 1959 when a rebellion led by the Dalai Lama was pacified and the People's Government of the Tibet, Autonomous Region was set up.