Tenzin Gyatso’s Great Mistake


© Dorothy

It wasn’t easy for Tenzin Gyatso to have private moments, however he sometimes could appear in public as a typical Buddhist monk.

He was not a young man and he had lived a very full life. His life was still very full and rewarding, but there were times he envied ordinary men. He had never been ordinary, even as a child.

Today, Gyatso and his disguise were not without purpose. He was in Bangalore to visit Jamadagni Kapil, student of the late Nobel Prize winning physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. In private correspondence, Dr. Kapil claimed to have harnessed solar gravitational forces that allowed for the outlandish notion of time travel.

Almost six decades ago, Gyatso had made the mistake of trusting the American CIA, believing they supported Tibetan independence. Their involvement has cost the lives of thousands of resistance fighters. If Kapil could prove his theories were reality, then the fourteenth Dalai Lama would take a message to his younger self saying to refuse the American money. There was a better way.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge of the Week of October 24, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to inspire crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 171.

I have only a passing knowledge of Buddhism, and of course I’ve heard of the Dalai Lama. I did a bit of Googling to discover, among other things, his given name (Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Thondup, and shortened to Tenzen Gyatso). Apparently even as a young child, he lived an unusual and highly spiritual life. Also since childhood, he has had an intense interest in science.

The Dalai Lama was exiled to India in 1959, and in the 1960s, his administration received $1.7 million a year from the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), supposedly to support Tibet regaining its independence from China. However, he later discovered that the U.S. Government was not concerned with Tibet, but only provided the funds as a tactic to challenge the Chinese during in the Cold War era. The Dalai Lama was later very critical of the CIA’s involvement.

I have no idea if the Dalai Lama ever goes out dressed as an ordinary monk, I doubt that he does, but the photo and my research led me to create this short and strange tale.

I also discovered that in 1983 Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar won the Nobel Prize for Physics with William A. Fowler for the “theoretical studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars.” That has little or nothing to do with time travel and the character of Jamadagni Kapil is completely fictional. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar died in 1995 at the age of 84, but I thought his fictional student might adapt some of his work to offer the Dalai Lama a way to go back and change at least one thing about his past he most likely regrets.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

26 thoughts on “Tenzin Gyatso’s Great Mistake

  1. Fantastic bit of imagination here, James. I’m sure you would have read ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ by Heinrich Harrer. It gives a vivid description of the 14th Dalai Lama as a child and his interests in science. I would also recommend a book on S Chandrasekhar by Arthur Miller called ‘Empire of the Stars’ which describes how Chandra was backstabbed by his own mentor Sir Arthur Eddington, because of which a demoralized Chandra lost decades which he would have spent on his research.


  2. Well researched piece James, interesting bit of history about the CIA and the Dalai Lama – I would have thought he would have been smarter than to trust that the CIA cared much about the fate of Tibet, but then they were different times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, if you click the links I made available, you’ll see all that was true. BTW, The 14th Dalai Lama was born in 1939, so by 1960, he’d be about 21, very young even for someone enlightened.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah! Got my timelines mixed a bit. Heinrich Harrer left Tibet in 1950. By then China had already started stirring the pot and assembling its armies along the Sino-Tibetan borders. The Lama actually fled Lhasa as a 14-year-old boy to Chumbi only to return and be the face of a shell government between 1956 and 1960 when China fully invaded and annexed Tibet.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent story! I love that you added the results of your research at the end. The story had so much depth and plausibility it seemed real to me. Seeing the research at the end I see why. Good research makes for good stories. Well done!


    • Thanks, Michael. In real life, I don’t know if the Dalai Lama would attempt to change the past, even if he could. It would be an interesting question to pose to him.


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