Buddhist Women – the Dalai Lama’s Mother

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December 26, 2018

The Dalai Lama’s Mother

Today is the birthday of the extraordinary and inspiring leader, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

However, since this month’s articles are all about women, this is a brief excerpt from the story of the Dalai Lama’s mother.

The Dalai Lama’s mother was named Diki Tsering (1900-1981). She was the mother of sixteen children, though only seven of them survived. She was born in 1901, the daughter of peasants. At birth, her name was Sonam Tsomo. She grew up in Amdo, Tibet and then she was wed in an arranged marriage at the age of sixteen. After her son was recognized as the tulku, the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, in 1939, she moved to Lhasa, central Tibet. Later she escaped into exile in 1959.

Though she was illiterate, her story was recorded and written down by her grandson Khedroop Thondup.

Here is an excerpt from her autobiography:

“It was both faith and fate that propelled me into my unbelievable life as the mother of the Dalai Lama. When it happened, it seemed as if I had lost all my courage and confidence and I became afraid, like a little child at the formidable task that lay before me. But once I began to tell myself I was Diki Tsering, the name that was given to me on my wedding day and means “ocean of luck,” a kind of rebirth kindled all the forces of determination within me. I was no longer afraid, and I willingly challenged fate, determined not to be submerged by the tide.

“Today I am a tiresome old woman, my body feverish with rheumatism. But however debilitated you become physically, the spirit of youth is constant and alive. It never deserts you, even in the face of the greatest suffering.” (1)


Footnotes and References:

(1) Tsering, Diki, and Khedroob Thondup. Dalai Lama, My Son: A Mother’s Autobiography. New York: Viking Adult, 2000. Print. 16.

Pema Khandro
Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, humanitarian, and teacher in the rare lineage of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Raised in the west, ordained in the Nyingma lineage, enthroned as a tulku and trained as an academic, Pema Khandro presents both a traditional perspective and a modern voice. Read more at: https://www.pemakhandro.org/pema-khandro-extended-biography/