The book Freedom in Exile is an autobiography of His Holiness Dalai Lama of Tibet and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The book includes his entire life journey until 1990 directly from the horse’s mouth. The book gives insights into His Holiness’ own perspective. He has also given some details of China’s occupation over Tibet from 1949 and onwards. The progression of life can turn into exile of the Dalai Lama too is an exceptional theme of this book.
‘Holder of the White Lotus’ is the first chapter of the book which includes His Holiness’s birth and initial years of his study and spiritual upbringing by other Guru (Lama) in many Monasteries around the Lhasa; far away from his native place and every four-months away from his mother as a five-year-old child. White Lotus is equivalent to peace in the Indian context too and is a bright way to start reading this book. It tells a lot about the culture of Tibet and how it is different from his motherland.
The fundamental precept of Buddhism – the Law of Cause and Effect is discussed here. This is the relation between karma and rebirth of an individual. ‘The Lion Throne,’ the 2nd chapter gives very specific details of his personal life as his name- Lhamo Thondup which later became Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso.
Each chapter in this book would have a special effect on every living being’s life. The book talks about Seventeen Point Peace Agreement in between Tibet and China; Nehru supported China and His Holiness had to agree, as his young aged spirituality wasn’t supported by any of the party. Aged 55, Dalai Lama proposed a Five-Point Agreement, where he proposed a friendly relation and asked for the security of environment (in terms of nuclear weapons) was also refused by PLA (Peoples Liberation Army).
In reviewing the book, the capability of mine is very petty to do, but the truth should be known to the world in light of Tibet’s Freedom Fight. The focus has to be given to a man who sacrificed his life for his people, who are actually on the threat of extinction. His Holiness has given insights into his life as an ordinary man who has suffered a lot, yet come out like a phoenix. People know him around the world for his work and sacrifices. But the book only talks about His Holiness’s life as a person who suffered a lot in the crisis. The position he holds has the importance of many lives as millions of Tibetans around the world sought his leadership. So to include those peoples’ perspective is considerable. The suffering is one path of Buddhism but those who suffer must get attention, so people should know what exactly caused the suffering (in case of Tibetans, China’s Extradition). While sharing a press incident His Holiness described that Chinese media referred to him as “Wolf in the Monk’s Robes”, which is as disrespectful as it gets.
His Holiness represents Tibetans around the world and his autobiography must include them; this is the only shortcoming in his book. The book in overall gives perspective and spiritual life lessons. He elaborated every situation in face of positivity as one where he quotes a conversation of himself with Mao, where Mao said, “Your attitude is good, you know. Religion is poison. Firstly, it reduces the population, because monks and nuns must stay celibate, and secondly, it neglects material progress.” Dalai Lama very politely replied to this, “So, you are the destroyer of Dharma after all.”
The prominent media platforms have given the best lines, Daily Mail said, “An extraordinary story”. New York Times, “Remarkable…moving…often amusing” and Spectator, “A touching book, that arouses great sympathy for its extraordinary author”.