Tag Archives: Tibet

The Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War (1679-1683) as a Political Solution to the Question of Buddhist Spheres of Influence in the Himalayas

Federica Venturi (CNRS, CRCAO), is participating to the New Research in Military History confenrece, in Cambridge (UK). The conference is organised by the BCMH1 on 18th-17th November, 2017.

Her paper aims to investigate the war between Tibet and Ladakh which took place on the westernmost edge of the Himalayan plateau between 1679 and 1683. While Tibet and its spiritual and political head, the Dalai Lama, represent today utmost symbols of peace and  nonviolence, in the past the Dalai Lamas and their Buddhist governments did not refrain from using belligerent methods in order to achieve their political goals. A prime example is that of the V Dalai Lama (1617-1682), who first accepted the extension of his rule on territories which had been conquered and presented to him by western Mongol troops, and then continued, during his forty years of reign, to consolidate his regime by engaging in wars with various neighboring polities. One of these was the kingdom of Ladakh, ruled by a dynasty that patronized a Buddhist school rival to that of the Dalai Lama. The competition for the largesse of a limited number of donors to the different religious establishments led to tensions that eventually resulted in a four-year war, and in the intervention of the neighboring Mughal empire on the Ladakhi side.

This little studied war ultimately determined the border between Tibet and Ladakh, which remains unchanged to this day. By consulting Tibetan sources contemporary with this conflict, this paper will outline the causes and main events of this war as well as provide information on the tactics employed by the combined Tibetan and Mongol armies utilized by the Dalai Lama’s government. It will show that war was considered an appropriate response and legitimate method to solve political and economic disputes also in Tibet, a country theoretically governed according to nonviolent Buddhist principles.

  1. British Commission for Military History []

The challenges of maintaining a standing army

On Thursday 15 December Dr. Alice Travers (CNRS, Paris) will give a guest lecture titled “The challenges of maintaining a standing army: the reforms of the Tibetan troops during the first half of the 20th Century”.

Venue: University of Oslo – Seminar room 10, P.A. Munchs building

The presentation will first give an overview of this new field of research and present the current state of knowledge regarding the creation of the first Tibetan standing army under the Ganden Phodrang government. It will then analyse the content of the military reforms (recruitment, hierarchy, training, uniform, arms and ammunitions) undertaken during the first half of the 20th century under the successive governments, based on secondary literature, and on primary written and oral sources (biographical accounts published in India and in the TAR, archives and interviews), in order to show how the distinctive features of these reforms were closely shaped by the political national and international context at various times.

The lecture is organized by the interfacultary Research Seminar in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies (TibHim), and are jointly funded by Network for University Cooperation Tibet-Norway and Religion in Pluralist Societies (PluRel).