His Holiness the Dalai Lama was born on 6 July 1935 to a Tibetan farming family in the small village of Taktser, located in the province of Amdo. He was named Lhamo Thondup, which literally means ‘Wish-Fulfilling Goddess’. Taktser (Roaring Tiger) was a small village that stood on a hill overlooking a broad valley. Its pastures had not been settled or farmed for long, only grazed by nomads. The reason for this was the unpredictability of the weather in that area. His Holiness writes in his autobiography, “During my early childhood, my family was one of twenty or so making a precarious living from the land there”.
His Holiness’s parents were small farmers who mostly grew barley, buckwheat and potatoes. His father was a man of medium height with a very quick temper. “I remember pulling at his moustache once and being hit hard for my trouble”, recalls His Holiness. “Yet he was a kind man too and he never bore grudges”. His Holiness recalls his mother as undoubtedly one of the kindest people he has ever known. She gave birth to sixteen children, of whom seven survived.
His Holiness had two sisters and four brothers. Tsering Dolma, the eldest child, was eighteen years older than His Holiness. At the time of His Holiness’s birth she helped his mother run the house and acted as the midwife. “When she delivered me, she noticed that one of my eyes was not properly open. Without hesitation she put her thumb on the reluctant lid and forced it wide fortunately without any ill effect”, narrates His Holiness. He had three elder brothers: Thubten Jigme Norbu – the eldest, who was recognized as the reincarnation of a high lama, Taktser Rinpoche – Gyalo Thondup and Lobsang Samden. The youngest brother, Tenzin Choegyal was also recognized as the reincarnation of another high lama, Ngari Rinpoche. Continue reading