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In 1804 the eighth Dalai Lama died, and Regent Tenpai Gonpo Kundeling provided needed food and exempted from taxes those who had suffered during the Gurkha war. He mediated between Tibetans protesting Chinese domination and the new Manchu emperor Jiaqing (r. 1799-1820). The two Ambans (Qing representatives) were investigated and replaced. The Chinese and the three big monasteries of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden urged the Tibetan government to ban foreigners. Thomas Manning used a disguise to visit in 1811 and criticized the poor quality of the imperial representatives in Lhasa. The ninth Dalai Lama died in 1815.
In 1822, even though the tenth Dalai Lama had been selected in the usual Tibetan way, Regent Jampel Tsultrim Tsemonling announced that he had been chosen by lottery between candidates as the Chinese required. A study of agriculture and families in the province of U was conducted that helped the Regent to improve revenue collection. In 1832 Regent Tsemonling sent troops to capture robbers led by Junang Dzasa, who was brought to the Dalai Lama and submitted. Two years later troops were used to make the people in southwest Kham pay taxes. The tenth Dalai Lama was only 21 years old when he died in 1837. Two candidates were selected in 1841, and it was reported that the eleventh Dalai Lama was chosen by lottery.
In 1834 the Dogra raja of Jammu had forced the Ladakh king to flee into Tibet. Kashmir maharaja Gulab Singh sent vizier Zorawar Singh with troops into Ladakh in support of the Dogra army. Ladakh minister Ngodup Tenzin surrendered to Zorawar, and he replaced the Ladakh ruler Lala with Ngodup, who agreed to pay 5,000 rupees annual tribute to Kashmir. However, in 1840 Zorawar Singh returned to Ladakh with 6,000 troops to depose Ngodup and reinstate Lala. The next year Zorawar Singh and Lala invaded Tibet with Sikh and Ladakhi forces. Lala died and was succeeded by his cousin while Zorawar’s Sikhs advanced into Purang. Tibetan reinforcements were sent and defeated and killed Zorawar. They also killed 3,000 Sikhs and took 700 prisoners as the rest fled to Ladakh. Gulab Singh sent 8,000 more Sikhs in 1842, and about sixty Tibetans were captured. A treaty was made, and the Tibetans withdrew; about a third of the Sikh and Ladakhi prisoners elected to remain in southern Tibet.
In 1844 the Tibetan Council (Kashag) and officials from the three largest monasteries deposed Regent Tsemonling, and the Panchen Lama governed at Lhasa for nine months until Yeshe Gyatso Rating was appointed as regent. Tibet made a trade agreement with Ladakh in 1853. The eleventh Dalai Lama was 17 when he assumed power in 1855, but he died eleven months later. The Kashag recalled Regent Rating. Complaining of trade violations, the Gurkhas invaded Tibet and occupied Nyanang, Rongshar, Dzonka, and Purang again. Tibetan troops were unable to regain the territory, and monks volunteered; but a treaty was negotiated in 1856. The Tibetan government agreed to pay the Gurkhas 10,000 rupees annually and stop collecting duties from Gurkha traders, and the Gurkhas gave back the four districts.
In 1858 a lottery chose the preferred candidate as the twelfth Dalai Lama, and Regent Rating named him Trinley Gyatso. Ministers of the Kashag became concerned that Rating was using the seal too much and appointed Wangchuk Gyalpo Shatra keeper of the seal; but Rating sent him into exile instead. Then he had his general Dapon Trhonp arrest Shatra and confine him to a monastery. Shatra got a message to the Ganden monastery treasurer Palden Dondup, and he roused the monks of Ganden and Drepung to release Shatra. They went to the Jokhang temple, where Shatra proclaimed himself prime minister (Desi). Most of the Lhasa officials joined him, and even the Regent’s guards abandoned Rating, who fled to China. Desi Shatra recognized the Dalai Lama as governor even though he was still a minor. Regent Rating died on his way back to Tibet. The Nyarong chief Gompo Namgyal in eastern Tibet used his army to terrorize many people, and six thousand families took refuge in Lhasa. In 1863 the Government sent troops to Nyarong, and it took two years to restore order there. Desi Shatra died in 1864, and Palden Dondup appointed a Drepung lama to assist the young Dalai Lama.
In 1868 the Assembly of Officials and Monks of Drepung and Ganden appointed Palden Dondup chamberlain. He was greatly feared because he kept a fresh animal skin outside his office and threatened to sew into it those who disobeyed him. Palden’s strict government effectively collected revenue, creating a large government surplus. In 1871 Palden kept the four council ministers in a meeting for more than two days, and it was reported that one had been sewn in animal skins and thrown in the river. Officials appealed to the Dalai Lama’s assistant, who announced that Palden and his assistants would be arrested. Palden Dondup fled to the Ganden monastery. The Assembly was dissolved, and the Government sent troops to besiege the Ganden monastery. Palden and his brother fled and committed suicide. The Assembly was replaced by the Tsongdu made up of the heads of government departments and the abbots of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden. After his assistant died in 1872, the twelfth Dalai Lama began governing in early 1873; but he died two years later. A search was made, and a boy was found at Thakpo Langdun in southeastern Tibet in 1876.
In the Chefoo Convention of 1876 the Chinese agreed to let the British explore Tibet from India to China. Buddhist student Sarat Chandra Das was commissioned by the Bengal government and went to Tashilhunpo in 1879. He visited Lhasa from 1881 to 1883 and compiled geographical information on Tibet. Concerned about his secret investigations, the Tibetan government tried to arrest Das, but he escaped. In 1883 a quarrel between two Tibetan women and a Nepalese shopkeeper in Lhasa escalated into a riot that looted the Nepalese shops. Representatives of the governments met, and the Tibetans agreed to pay compensation.
A British mission went to Sikkim in 1885, and Tibet’s Tsongdu vowed that they would not allow the British to enter their territory. The next year the Tibetans gathered an army in the Chumbi Valley that crossed the Himalayas and built a fort near Nadong twelve miles inside the borders of Sikkim. Maharaja Thuthop Namgyal of Sikkim did not object because he preferred them to the British, but he warned the Tibetans not to challenge British power. His envoys failed to stop both sides from advancing. The Government of India asked the Chinese to make the Tibetans withdraw. After the Tibetans ignored warnings, in March 1888 a British force drove them out of Sikkim and back to the Chumbi Valley. This was the first time Tibetans had fought a European army, and they were badly defeated. The British army entered Gangtok. Thuthop Namgyal had fled to his estate in the Chumbi Valley; but British officers persuaded him to return to Gangtok. His palace was confiscated, and he was given an allowance and put under house arrest.
Without consulting the Tibetan government, Governor-General Lansdowne of India agreed with Shengtai, the Manchu Amban in Lhasa, on an 1890 convention; China would recognize British influence in Sikkim, and its boundary with Tibet was fixed. The Chinese did not want the British negotiating directly with Tibet, but they were unable to make the Tibetans implement the agreement. In 1892 Thuthop Namgyal with his wife and ten officials tried to go to Tibet and then Nepal, where they were arrested by Gurkhas. The Tibetans resented Chinese domination and obstructed a trade agreement with India in 1893. Yet Claude White was the political officer in Sikkim, and he reported that the Chinese had no real authority in Tibet. The British reinstated Thuthop Namgyal as ruler of Sikkim when he agreed to their ten conditions in 1895. That year the 13th Dalai Lama assumed power. After the regent Demo Trimley Rabgyas resigned, he was accused of using witchcraft to try to regain power; he and his two brothers were imprisoned for life. In 1896 a Chakla chieftain invaded eastern Tibet, and the Chinese led by Tangli captured much Tibetan territory.
A Buriat Mongol monk from Baikal called Dorjiev had been visiting Lhasa since 1880, and the British were worried that he was negotiating for the Russians. In 1898 Dorjiev went to Russia to appeal for subscriptions for his monastic college, and the British thought he might have secret instructions from the 13th Dalai Lama. After Dorjiev returned to Tibet in 1901, the British heard rumors that Russian arms were reaching Tibet. The Japanese monk Kawaguchi was visiting Lhasa and confirmed the report.
In the summer of 1903 Col. Francis Younghusband led a force of seven hundred toward Khamba Dzong inside Tibet. Two Tibetan envoys tried to persuade the British to hold talks at Giagong, but White said they expected to meet a Manchu representative at Khamba Dzong. The Tibetans opposed Chinese participation and wanted the talks on the border, not inside Tibet. In Lhasa the Kashag wanted a peaceful settlement, but the Tsongdu had four Kashag ministers arrested. Four new ministers were appointed. The Chinese occupied the territories of Garthar. When Fengjian, the new deputy Amban, offended monks at Bah by advising them to be farmers, they murdered him and his escort, which had pillaged Tibetans. General Ma Ditai led troops from Sichuan and executed 322 monks, confiscating their property and burning their monastery.
Brigadier-General James Macdonald led 5,000 Sikh and Gurkha troops with 4,000 porters over the Himalayas into Tibet’s Chumbi Valley. They were confronted by more Tibetans who had built a five-foot wall and had few modern weapons. On March 31, 1904 the British soldiers killed about five hundred Tibetans and captured two hundred. They killed another 180 before they reached Gyantse in April 1904. After three hundred more Tibetans were killed in a battle at Gyantse, Tibetan resistance ceased. The British were ordered not to loot, and they won over Tibetans by paying for their supplies; but they did take some images and paintings from monasteries that resisted. Younghusband left Gyantse in July and camped outside of Lhasa in August. Bhutanese and Nepalese envoys tried to mediate a settlement. The Dalai Lama and Dorjiev had fled, but the Tibetan Assembly authorized the regent Tri Rimpoche of Ganden to make an agreement that was signed on September 7. Tibet was obligated not to deal with any foreign power without British consent, and three places for trading in Tibet were established. British overlordship of Sikkim was also recognized. China ratified the Lhasa Convention in 1906.
After the 13th Dalai Lama fled Lhasa in 1904, he stayed at Urga for more than a year. While in Mongolia he sent Dorjiev to St. Petersburg to ask the Russians for protection. The Dalai Lama quarreled with the Jetsun Dampa over the height of the thrones and went to Amdo in 1906. The Chinese invited him to come to Beijing, and after visiting various Buddhist monasteries he arrived there in September 1908. He found that the young Emperor Guangxu was under the influence of drugs while Empress Cixi ruled.
In 1905 China tried to exert more control over eastern Tibet. In Kham they reduced the number of monks and forbade recruiting monks for the next twenty years. Zhao Erfeng returned with Chinese troops to investigate the incident at Bah in Tibet; they killed four monks and fined the monastery. When other monks in the area protested, he had 1,210 monks and laymen killed. In 1906 Zhao executed more monks at Gongkar Namling and Yangdeng as others fled. Tibetans called him “Zhao the Butcher,” and in 1907 his troops stole thousands of loads of grain in southern Kham. The Chinese opened a school at Lhasa and a military college in 1908. That year Zhao was reinforced with troops from Sichuan and decided to march on Lhasa. The Regent Gandan Tri Rimpoche and the Kashag wrote a letter complaining about Zhao Erfeng’s atrocities, but the Chinese Amban in Lhasa refused to forward it to the Manchu emperor. So the Kashag sent an envoy to Calcutta to telegraph Beijing. The Chinese garrison at Lhasa was reinforced with 6,000 troops, and Zhongyin was appointed commander-in-chief of all troops in Tibet. The last Qing emperor was so weak that provincial governors were making their own decisions. In 1909 Tibetans learned that a large Chinese force was coming to enforce the Trade Regulations signed at Calcutta in 1908. The Kashag demanded that the Amban withdraw the Chinese troops from Tibet, but he brought the force even sooner.
The Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa in December 1909. He wrote to the British asking them to intervene so that Chinese troops would withdraw. He received a new seal, minted new silver coins, and established a foreign bureau. In March 1910 a Chinese army of 2,000 men led by Zhongyin marched into Lhasa and fired on the police and the Jokhang temple, arresting the head of the Foreign Bureau. The Dalai Lama appointed a new regent and fled west with his chief ministers. The next day the Amban sent three hundred cavalry after them, but they were defended by a rear-guard action. From the Samding monastery the Dalai Lama sent a message asking the British Trade Agent at Gyantse for asylum in India. He reached Yatung and stayed with David Macdonald, who knew Tibetan. The Dalai Lama went on to Darjeeling, and on March 14, 1910 he met with Viceroy Minto in Calcutta. He explained that Dorjiev only gave him spiritual advice. The Dalai Lama wrote to the Panchen Lama, asking him to join him in India, but he refused.
In Lhasa the Chinese replaced the Tibetan police and confiscated the property of the Dalai Lama. Tibetans refused to cooperate with the Chinese and attacked them in eastern and southern Tibet. The Chinese sent Lo Ditai to Darjeeling to ask the Dalai Lama to return to his restored titles in Tibet. In September the Dalai Lama replied in a long letter that he had restrained his people from taking revenge and that he hoped to negotiate with China with the British government acting as an intermediary. In Lhasa the Panchen Lama was resented for being friendly with the Amban. When the Amban executed a leader of a secret society of revolutionaries (Golaohui) in the Chinese army, feuds broke out. Four Chinese officers deserted and joined the Sera monastery.
When news of Sun Yatsen’s October 1911 revolution arrived, the Golaohui mutinied. The Amban fled, was taken hostage, and was released by Zhongyin. Zhao Erfeng returned to Sichuan, where he was executed the following year. News that the Dalai Lama was returning inspired more Tibetan revolts against the Chinese. He sent young officials who helped drive the Chinese out of Shigatse and Gyantse. Many Chinese soldiers sold their guns and ammunition to Tibetan merchants. Chinese forces were unable to take the Sera monastery. Chinese troops were isolated in southern Lhasa and fought Tibetans in the northern zone as a year of fighting devastated a third of Lhasa. Tibetans returning from Darjeeling captured Chinese outposts along the border. The Tsongdu (National Assembly) met and began arresting Tibetan officials who had collaborated with the Chinese.
In June 1912 the Dalai Lama was escorted back to Tibet. In Beijing the British minister John Jordan met with the new president, Yuan Shikai, and protested the Chinese occupation of Tibet. President Yuan declared that Tibet would be treated as a province in the Chinese republic, and he restored the Dalai Lama’s rank. The Dalai Lama replied that he wanted no rank from the Chinese and that he had resumed leadership of the government. Lacking supplies, the Chinese at Lhasa offered to surrender in August, and the Tibetans agreed they could return to China by way of India. One group left, but two others found refuge at the Tengyeling monastery and fought from there. They were starved into surrendering again and left for India in January 1913. That month Tibet and Mongolia signed a treaty declaring themselves separate from China; the Dalai Lama and Jetsun Dampa Hutuktu recognized each other’s independence.
The 13th Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa amid great celebration and issued a proclamation declaring that Buddhist institutions would be preserved in an independent Tibet. He forbade the amputation of limbs as punishment and allowed vacant lands to be cultivated free of taxes for three years. The Tengyeling monastery was disendowed; traitors were banished, and the rest of the monks were distributed to other monasteries. Those who collaborated with the Chinese were punished, but long-time Chinese residents were allowed to stay in Tibet. The Dalai Lama introduced paper currency and postage stamps and later minted gold and silver coins. Four Tibetan boys were sent to England to study at Rugby. Khenrab Kunzang Mondrong studied mining engineering but became the Dalai Lama’s personal interpreter and the superintendent of the Lhasa police. Rigzin Dorje Ringang oversaw the electrification of Lhasa, and Wangdu Norbu Kyibuk implemented a telegraph network. Tsepa Lungshar went to England with them and became Finance Secretary and head of the military. Yasujiro Yajima trained Tibetans in Japanese methods of warfare for six years. Tibetans were still driving Chinese soldiers out of eastern Tibet.
The Chinese did not want to negotiate with Tibet as equals, but eventually they sent Ivan Chen to Simla for talks with Shatra Paljor Dorje and Henry McMahon. The Tibetans wanted internal and external sovereignty without any Chinese soldiers in Tibet and the eastern border up to Dajianlu. They demanded that the conventions signed without their consent at Beijing in 1906 and at Calcutta in 1908 be declared invalid. They brought 56 volumes of documents to back up their claims. The Chinese claimed Tibet from the conquest by Genghis Khan and the protection given by the Manchu emperor Kangxi (r. 1677-1722). They had paid Tibet’s indemnity to the British in 1904 and sent troops to Lhasa to regulate the Trade Agreement of 1908. They wanted the border at Gyamda near Lhasa. In February 1914 McMahon proposed Chinese suzerainty over Tibet with troops in Inner Tibet but not in Outer Tibet. The Chinese would be allowed one official in Lhasa with not more than 300 guards. Tibet was not to be a Chinese province, and the previous conventions no longer applied. The three negotiators initialed this agreement, but the Chinese government ordered Chen not to sign the treaty. The British gave them to the end of June and then signed the Simla agreement with Tibet on July 3, 1914. The McMahon line became the border between Tibet and India, and the British and Tibetans also signed new Trade Regulations.
On August 4, 1914 the Dalai Lama offered the British a thousand troops for the war and kept them in readiness until the end of the conflict. The British sold Tibet 5,000 old Lee-Metford rifles and 500,000 rounds of ammunition and had to send reassurances to Nepal. The Dalai Lama turned the Tengyeling monastery into a school for medicine and astrology. The Government paid the expenses of students and gave the poor free medicine. The Dalai Lama sent troops to Gyantse to learn British military methods, and after comparing them to Russian and Japanese trained regiments, the British model was chosen. In 1916 the British imposed an embargo on arms from India or Japan to Tibet.
In 1917 council minister (kalon) Chamba Tendar was sent to govern Kham with eight generals and a large staff. They recaptured much territory and converged on Chamdo, which held out for several months before surrendering. Tibetans escorted the Chinese prisoners to the Indian border to remove them from the region. General Peng Risheng had destroyed three major monasteries; but he refused to return to China and was allowed to settle in Tibet. As Tibetan troops approached Dajianlu, British consul Eric Teichman negotiated a tripartite agreement that was signed on August 19, 1918 by him, General Liu Zanding, and Chamba Tendar. The upper Yangzi River became the main border, but the Tibetans retained all the monasteries in the territory given to China. After the war the British resumed selling arms to Tibet on the guarantee that they would be used only for defense. A telegraph line connected Gyantse and Lhasa.
In 1921 documents from the Tengyeling monastery showed that three monks had helped the Chinese. When they were imprisoned at Lhasa, Loseling college monks demonstrated. The military was used to arrest sixty monks and punish them. After this incident Charles Bell persuaded the British to sell Tibet 10,000 rifles, 20 Lewis machine-guns, and 10 mountain guns. In 1922 Gyalpo, who had married a Nepalese girl, was to be arrested for selling liquor and tobacco, but he took refuge in the house of the Nepalese resident. Lungshar had the police break in and arrest him. This incident might have escalated into war with Nepal, but the British intervened to resolve the issue. The arrogant Lungshar fell out of favor. British trade agents at Gyantse built a road for three motor cars; but local people using animals objected, and the project was abandoned. Tibet bought from England machinery for a hydro-electric plant. Taxes on estates had to be raised to pay for a standing army.
The Tashihunpo monasteries owned large estates in Tibet, and the Panchen Lama fled to China in 1923. He reached Beijing in February 1925 and was welcomed by the Guomindang Nationalist party. The Dalai Lama asked for an English school at Gyantse in 1926, and it was supervised by Frank Ludlow; but after three years monks got it closed down as harmful to religion. The Darjeeling police chief Sonam Laden La was Tibetan, and he came to Lhasa to train police. When the Tsongdu was discussing taxing the estates of ministers and generals, Tsarong and other young generals interrupted the meeting to demand military representation. Lungshar urged monks to make a big issue of the disturbance. The Dalai Lama intervened and dismissed two generals and one minister. Tsarong was sent on a trip and relieved of his commander-in-chief position. Lungshar was fined 27 gold coins for creating problems. To keep the military from becoming too strong, the Dalai Lama demoted many officers. A Poyul ruler refused to pay taxes, but eventually he was forced to flee to Assam. A few pro-Soviet Mongols came to Tibet, but they gained nothing but an audience with the Dalai Lama and left. In 1927 Chiang Kai-shek wrote the Dalai Lama, who declined to be part of China. The British did not allow Tibet to impose a five-percent customs tariff at the Indo-Tibetan border until 1929. Lungshar increased the Tibetan army by 2,200 men and increased pay for soldiers and police.
The Dalai Lama prohibited dismissing old servants or sending away aged parents. The interest that money-lenders could charge was limited. Physicians were sent out to districts, and women in childbirth and sick animals were treated without charge. Tobacco, opium, and liquor were prohibited in Tibet, and gambling was illegal. The Dalai Lama discouraged women from buying jewelry and expensive clothes because wives of poor officers were going into debt.
In 1931 the Beri and Dargyas monasteries east of the Yangzi River began fighting. When the Sichuan governor Liu Wenhui sent troops to assist Beri, Tibetan troops from Derge defended Dargyas and drove the Chinese out of Beri. The Tibetans would have gained territory by a cease-fire but refused. Liu Wenhui counter-attacked and drove the Tibetans back. Meanwhile the Muslim warlord Ma Bufang was also fighting in a dispute between monasteries, and Tibetans intervened; but they were defeated by the Chinese at Dan Chokhorgon and retreated. The 13th Dalai Lama asked Col. Weir to telegraph Nanjing for a diplomatic solution, but Chiang Kai-shek could not control Liu Wenhui. After the latter got into a civil war against his nephew Liu Xiang in Sichuan, he agreed to a cease-fire. A treaty was signed on June 15, 1933, and the previous border was restored. In his last years the Dalai Lama warned that Communism would come to Tibet if they did not take precautions. He died on December 17, 1933.
The young and inexperienced Silon Langdun, the Dalai Lama’s nephew, was prime minister, but Lungshan quickly proclaimed Tibet a republic under the Tsongdu (National Assembly) where he was the leader. He assumed the rank of Tsepson and took control of the military, taking power away from Kunphela by persuading the middle-class sons who had been forced into the military to disband their Drong Drak Makhar regiment. The next day Kunphela and two personal attendants of the Dalai Lama were banished by the Tsongdu for failing to report the Dalai Lama’s illness adequately. After four months under Lungshan, Minister Trimon Norbu Wangyal learned that Lungshan was going to assassinate him; he informed Regent Rating and found asylum in the Drepung monastery. The Kashag (Council of Ministers) then arrested Lungshan. After an inquiry he was blinded and imprisoned for life. The testament of the 13th Dalai Lama was used as a guide for governing.
General Huang Musong was allowed to lead a mission to Lhasa in April 1934 as a religious tribute to the late Dalai Lama. He proposed that Tibet become part of China, but the Tibetan Government declined and demanded the return of eastern territories. The Chinese had a wireless radio and used money to bribe Regent Rating and other officials. Basil Gould, the political officer in Sikkim, visited Lhasa from time to time and left historian Hugh Richardson there with a radio operator. In 1934 the Chinese Communists made their long march to the northwest, but Tibetan troops made them move on from Horkhog, Bah, Lithang, Nyarong, and Derge. In 1935 Tibetan envoys objected to a proposed escort of five hundred Chinese soldiers for the Panchen Lama’s return to Tibet, and the British supported their position. The Panchen Lama returned to Jyekundo but died there in December 1937. The Japanese invasion of China reduced the Chinese military threat to Tibet. In 1938 Silon Langdun agreed to be only a nominal prime minister.
The search for the next Dalai Lama found three candidates, and 400,000 Chinese dollars were paid for the boy found in the Kokonor region. He was named Tenzin Gyatso and was enthroned as the 14th Dalai Lama on February 22, 1940. Regent Rating, who was criticized for not being celibate as well as for taking money from the Chinese, retired to a life of prayer and meditation, and the conservative lama Taktra Rimpoche became regent in 1941.
In World War II the Tibetans decided to remain neutral and prayed for peace. Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek) wanted to build a road across the southeast corner of Tibet to Assam. The British offered to help their ally, but Tibet sent troops to stop the project. In 1942 some Chinese invaded Tibetan territory from Jinghai. The Regent and the Kashag over-ruled the Tsongdu and decided to allow non-military supplies to pass through Tibet. In April 1943 Jiang ordered Chinese troops from Jinghai, Yunnan, and Sigang sent to the border. In November the British sold Tibet five million rounds of rifle ammunition and a thousand shells for their mountain guns but no machine-gun bullets. Over the years Tibetans borrowed money to buy grain, and in 1944 many stopped paying the interest arrears. A district officer defended their refusal and was beaten to death by collectors of the Sera Che and Ngaga colleges. The monks refused to turn over the killers, and the Government had to use force to arrest them.
In 1942 the United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) sent Captain Ilia Tolstoy and Lt. Brooke Dolan to Tibet with a letter from President Roosevelt and gifts that later included wireless transmitters. The young Dalai Lama wrote back that the Tibetans also valued freedom of thought, religion, and action and that they were praying for a termination of hostilities. When a US military plane crashed in Tibet in 1944, the Tibetans helped the crew make it to the Indian border. That summer Jiang’s advisor Shen Zonglian went to Lhasa to negotiate and was met there by Basil Gould. Shen persuaded the Tibetans to send an official delegation to China, and Hugh Richardson of the British mission warned them not to act as delegates to the Chinese National Assembly. The Assembly was postponed, and the Tibetans were kept in China for several months. Finally they were instructed to demand the return of Tibetan territory and return home. They made a public demonstration of not signing the resolutions of the Chinese National Assembly.
A second attempt at an English school in Lhasa was started in 1945; but once again monks complained that it endangered their religion, and it was closed. So the Government sent students to India with scholarships. Two German prisoners of war escaped from India and were given refuge in neutral Tibet, where they spent seven years and helped build a canal. In April 1945 Jiang sent Tibet arms and ammunition as a gift, saying he would continue to supply them with weapons free of cost.
In March 1947 Tibetan representatives attended the Asian Relations Conference in India under the Tibetan flag. A hand grenade in a package sent to Regent Taktra Rimpoche exploded. On April 14 and 15 the ex-regent Rating and some of his officials were arrested. The next day the suspected maker of the bomb committed suicide, and monks from the Che College of the Sera monastery, who supported Regent Rimpoche, murdered their abbot after his attempt to restrain their rebellious talk and military preparations. On April 20 the Tibetan army fired rounds from mountain guns against the Che College, and the monks fired back with rifles. Rating denied the charges he was trying to return to power, but flogging persuaded Kartho Rimpoche to reveal the conspiracy that was confirmed by Rating’s secretary. Rating had written a letter to Jiang about Regent Takra’s unjust rule and asked the Chinese to drop leaflets from airplanes, but they declined to do so. The Tibetan army attacked the Che College again on April 27 and took it over, killing about two hundred monks while 15 soldiers died. The ex-regent Rating was murdered in prison on May 8. Two of his secretaries and about thirty monks were punished by imprisonment. Ten candidates to be the next Panchen Lama had been gathered by the Chinese, who broke Tibetan tradition by selecting the next Panchen Lama in 1944. The Government of Tibet did not recognize their selection.
On August 15, 1947 the new government of India took over the treaty obligations the British had made with Tibet and replaced their missions. Tibet asked for the return of territories from Assam to Ladakh. When China invited Tibetan delegates to the National Assembly in 1949, Tibet sent a trade mission with official passports to India, the United Kingdom, and the United States as well as to China. In July 1949 the Tibetan Government asked Chinese officials to leave Lhasa and Chinese traders to leave Tibet, and they were politely escorted out of Lhasa with musical honors. Radio reporter Lowell Thomas was allowed to visit Tibet and provided publicity.
Tibet affirmed its independence and tried to make military preparations to meet the threat of the Chinese Communists. India’s Prime Minister Nehru referred to Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, but the Tibetans reminded him that the Simla agreement insisted that Tibet remain autonomous. The Indian Government recognized Communist China in January 1950. In the spring Ma Bufang was driven out of Jinghai by the Communists and asked permission to withdraw through Tibet. The Tibetan government sent ambassadors to India, Nepal, the United Kingdom, and the United States to ask for help. On August 15 a major earthquake devastated eastern Tibet, killing many. On October 7, Chinese troops invaded eastern Tibet using Khampa irregulars. The Tibetans were quickly overwhelmed, and many surrendered. At the same time a small Chinese force crossed into northwest Tibet that had not been invaded since 1716. On October 25 Communist China proclaimed that they were liberating three million Tibetans from imperialist oppression and consolidating the western borders of China. The next day India sent a protest and warned China that this could block their admission into the United Nations. Beijing replied that Tibet is part of China and that no foreign intervention was required.
On November 11, 1950 the government of Tibet appealed to the United Nations for help against Chinese aggression. Six days later the Tsongdu recognized the Dalai Lama as the ruler, and Regent Taktra resigned. El Salvador moved that the United Nations condemn China’s invasion; but when India suggested that the issue could be settled peacefully without the United Nations, the United Kingdom and the United States went along with that. Yet a few days later in New Delhi the Indian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, said,
On December 11 Tibet sent a telegram asking the United Nations for a fact-finding commission, but they received no answer. The sixteen-year-old Dalai Lama and some leading officials left Lhasa for the Chumbi Valley.
Raja Ran Bahadur Shah ruled Nepal so badly that he was denounced by the people and fled to Benares in 1800. He asked the Governor-General to loan him ten battalions, but instead the English signed a friendship treaty with Nepal in 1801. Wellesley sent Captain Knox to negotiate a commercial treaty, but the Nepalese already resented the treaty that forced them to accept a British resident at Kathmandu. The senior Rani (Queen) took control and appointed Damodar Pande her chief minister. Knox left Kathmandu, and the Company renounced the 1801 treaty. This enabled Ran Bahadur Shah to return to Nepal; but he ruled so cruelly that he was beheaded in 1804 before the Durbar by his own brother Sher Bahadur, whom he had threatened to execute. The widowed Tripur Sundari Devi acted as regent and appointed Bhim Sen Thapa prime minister. The Nepal army invaded the west and killed the Garhwal chief. The Gurkhas penetrated into the region between the Sutlej and Jumna rivers until Ranjit Singh conquered the fortress at Kangra in 1809.
In 1813 Col. Ochterlony protested that the Gurkhas were taking over villages belonging to Butowley, but he did not think they were worth waging a war. Company troops peacefully occupied the disputed lands. In May a Nepalese force attacked three villages in Butwal and killed a chief. When the Gurkhas occupied all of Butwal, the Gorakhpur magistrate withdrew the troops from Sheoraj. Governor-General Hastings declared war even though Col. Ochterlony wrote to Metcalfe it was “the most impolitic measure we have ever attempted.” Three out of the first four expeditions failed. In October 1814 the British led by Col. Mawley occupied Dehra Dun. Lord Hastings reluctantly approved the policy of destroying crops to force the enemy to withdraw from Tarai in Butwal. General Marley’s advance on Kathmandu with 12,000 troops failed after he fled.
By 1815 the Company had 34,000 troops battling about 12,000 Gurkhas. Ochterlony captured forts at Nalagarh and Ramgarh and then blockaded the Gurkhas’ best general, Amar Singh Thapa. Col. Gardner and Captain Hearsey attacked Kumaon and threatened the capital at Almora, and in April the Gurkhas surrendered the whole province and withdrew east of the Kali River. Amar Singh Thapa’s troops deserted, and he surrendered the Malaun fort to Ochterlony in May. Ochterlony marched with 20,000 men to Kathmandu, and in November 1815 the Treaty of Sagauli was signed. The war party in Nepal refused to ratify the treaty until the Nepalese were defeated again in February 1816. They ceded Garhwal and Kumaon to the British and withdrew from Sikkim. The Sikkim raja signed a protective treaty in February 1817, giving the British a buffer between Bhutan and Nepal, which was allowed to be independent and became an effective ally of the British. The British had won a war to secure a few villages in Tarai.
Nepal’s prime minister Bhim Sen Thapa made sure that the English Resident could only communicate through him. When the regent Tripur Sundari Devi died in 1832, the young Rajendra Bikram Shah rebelled against his tutor and prime minister Bhim Sen and began favoring the exiled Pandes faction. The Orientalist Brian Hodgson had become resident at Kathmandu in 1829, and in 1834 he negotiated a reciprocity agreement; the Resident would make no claims on the Durbar that he would not admit if they made them. In 1836 acting Governor-General Metcalfe would not return eleven slave girls who had taken refuge in Tirhut because the British opposed slavery. The Pandes faction accused Bhim Sen of various crimes. He denounced the papers as forgeries, but he was arrested in 1837 and, threatened with torture, committed suicide. In 1840 the Raja sent a message to his mutinous army that he had no money to pay them because he was saving it to fight the English. Although the British were busy with the Afghan war, Resident Hodgson persuaded the king of Nepal to dismiss the Pandes faction in favor of the Brahmin Raj Guru and the Chautariyas family. An army of 20,000 men was made available to the Resident at Kathmandu to protect the Company’s northern frontier. In December 1843 Major Henry Lawrence replaced Hodgson and informed Nepal of the Company’s neutrality; they were not concerned with Nepalese politics but only trade. The Company followed international law in not handing over political refugees.
When the senior Maharani died, the young Surender Vikram Shah began oppressing the people of Nepal. The Chautariya prime minister Fateh Jung presided over a meeting with 675 responsible people in which the young king signed over his powers to the junior Maharani; but she wanted her son to be king and appointed General Matabar Singh prime minister in December 1843, as most of the Pandes were exterminated. Yet in May 1845 she had Matabar shot dead and appointed General Gagan Singh. Jang Bahadur was promoted to commander of the army, and Gagan Singh was assassinated in September 1846. In a tumultuous assembly about 150 nobles were murdered, killing the rest of the Pandes and the Chautariyas.
The junior Maharani got Jang Bahadur appointed prime minister. He made a speech that won over the army despite the officers lost. When the Maharani gave him a written order to kill two princes, Jang Bahadur sent back a letter explaining he could not obey an illegal order. After discovering her plot against his life, he arranged for the Maharani to go to Benares; her son Rajendra Vikram Shah went with her despite Jang Bahadur’s request for him to stay. Rajendra’s son Surendra Vikram Shah was installed as raja in May 1847. Rajendra Vikram’s plan to invade Nepal was foiled by Jang Bahadur, who banished him to Bhatgaon. In 1850 Jang Bahadur became the first Hindu political leader to visit England. He met with Queen Victoria and was impressed by her courtesy and lack of vanity. His requests for artillery engineers, a treaty for the reciprocal surrender of criminals, and direct communication with the Company directors were all denied. Jang Bahadur also visited President Louis Napoleon in France, but all his requests had to go through the British embassy because of their tributary treaty. Realizing the industrial and military strength of Britain, Jang Bahadur would not oppose the English in India.
When Lhasa officials did not respond to his complaints about the bad treatment of Nepalese by Tibetans, Jang Bahadur went to war with Tibet in 1854. The British resident agreed to a treaty on reciprocal treatment with Nepal in 1855. The Tibetans sued for peace and signed a treaty at the home of Jang Bahadur on March 24, 1856. Both countries agreed to restore conquests, prisoners, and booty taken in the war. Tibet agreed to pay Nepal 10,000 silver coins annually, and Nepal promised to help defend Tibet if they were attacked. Jang Bahadur resigned in July and let his brother Ram Bahadur govern until he died a natural death in May 1857. Then Jang Bahadur responded to the popular demand for his resumption of service. He offered Gurkha troops to help quell the revolt in Awadh and personally led 9,000 troops in the British recapture of Lakhnau in March 1858. According to the treaty he had to hand over criminals escaping into Nepal, but he ordered that only those who had definitely killed a British woman or child were to be surrendered; the others received political asylum. In gratitude for the Gurkhas’ military aid, in an 1860 treaty the British returned the Tarai lands to Nepal.
After governing Nepal for thirty years, Prime Minister Jung Bahadur died suddenly on February 25, 1877. He had created a line of hereditary succession and was replaced by his brother Ranodip Singh, who also called himself Maharajah and took over the estates of Kaski and Lamjing. Jung Bahadur’s son Juggut Jung thought these estates were to be his, and he conspired to overthrow his uncle. Ranodip Singh responded by calling for unity. The new British resident F. Henley complained that he was not allowed to travel beyond Kathmandu and that Europeans were excluded from Nepal. In 1878 Ranodip Singh offered to help the British in a possible war with Russia, but Viceroy Lytton declined his offer. Juggut Jung vied for power with Ranodip Singh’s brother Dhere Shamsher, who became commander-in-chief in 1879. Resident C. E. R. Girdlestone wanted to pressure Nepal to loosen its restrictions on Europeans, but the Governor-General in India did not consider this expedient. Girdlestone asked for improvements in trade. Later the Nepal Durbar began repairing and building more roads, and trade between India and Nepal increased.
The British learned that R. N. Mathewson was helping the Nepal Durbar obtain English arms and ammunition secretly. A plot against the Prime Minister’s life was defeated in 1882 while Juggut Jung was in India. Juggut returned in 1885, was reconciled with Ranodip Singh, and began working closely with him. On November 22 the family of Dhere Shamsher took power with a coup that murdered Ranodip Singh and his close relatives who did not flee. The British protected the refugees and gave them allowances in India, but the Governor-General refused to intervene in Nepal. Dhere Shamsher’s son Bir Shamsher took power while Girdlestone was on leave; but acting Resident Col. J. C. Berkeley recognized Bir Shamsher’s regime. Bir went back to the policy of isolation while pleasing the British by helping them recruit Gurkhas for the Indian army. Girdlestone complained that he read letters addressed to English merchants, and the British Government censured Bir Shamsher for this. When Major Durand was Resident, he complained that he could not get accurate information from the Durbar.
Col. H. Wylie became Resident in 1891, and he used a more conciliatory approach. Bir Shamsher invited Frederick Roberts, the commander-in-chief in India, to Kathmandu in 1892 and honored him with a parade of 18,000 soldiers. Bir then visited Governor-General Lansdowne in February 1893 at Calcutta, where he was allowed to purchase arms on the open market. Wylie persuaded the Prime Minister that his request for eighteen lakhs of rupees worth of arms was excessive, and Bir accepted what the British offered. He invited Wylie to visit the Nakhu Arsenal in Nepal, and the Resident was able to estimate Nepal’s arms and machinery for manufacturing ammunition. The British Government instructed Wylie to exclude machinery from the negotiations. Wylie was disappointed that Nepal made no concessions for the arms agreement and complained that the Resident was treated “like a prisoner.”
Bir Shamsher died on March 5, 1901 and was succeeded by Dev Shamsher. The new Prime Minister quickly began to implement his progressive ideas by improving education, liberating slaves, and starting a newspaper; but the ambitious Chandra Shamsher, brother of Bir, ousted Dev within three months. Chandra believed that Nepal’s interests were best served by maintaining friendly relations with British India. He met with Viceroy Curzon on the last day of 1902 and attended his imperial Durbar at Delhi in 1903. Chandra Shamsher believed that the Tibetans were getting arms and manufacturing machines from Russia, and he offered Nepal’s assistance on the British campaign into Tibet. Maharaja Chandra visited Curzon again at Calcutta in January 1904. The Viceroy thanked him for his information about Tibet and agreed to keep it secret from the public, but he declined to give him machine guns for his personal guard. Nepal continued to receive arms to defend its independence while supplying Gurkhas for the British army in India.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher was allowed to import arms from the Indian Government, but he had to give up his request for machinery to manufacture arms. The British Foreign Office allowed the Government of Nepal to import the arms and ammunition free of duty. Chandra Shamsher visited England in 1908 and saw their impressive army, navy, and industrial development; he was won over by the friendliness of the people and the benefits of their society. Upon his return Nepal received 7,500 Martini-Henry rifles from India.
In 1912 Nepal’s representative in Lhasa acted as an intermediary in the conflict between Tibet and China. In December he arranged for Resident Zhong to return safely to the Chinese garrison. The next year Chandra Shamsher sent a message to General Zhong that Nepal as an ancient Hindu kingdom did not want to be a part of the Republic of China. After that, Nepal had no relations with China until 1947. The Prime Minister forbade the Nepalese from reading vernacular newspapers from India in order to stop the spread of sedition. On August 3, 1914 Chandra Shamsher told the Resident at Kathmandu that Nepal would aid the British in the war with all their military resources. Thousands of Gurkhas in the Indian army fought in France, and others were sent to replace troops in India. Nepal recruited 200,000 men during the Great War. The Prime Minister persuaded the Hindu authorities to grant Nepalese the Patia certificates to excuse their violation of caste laws restricting going overseas. Major Northey reported that the Nepalese suffered 20,000 casualties fighting for the British. Nepal also extended some financial assistance from time to time. Germans used vernacular radio broadcasts in India to try to persuade the Nepalese to help overthrow the British rule in India.
In 1920 the Brahmin priests announced that Gurkhas who went overseas would be outcasts, but religious rules against foreign travel gradually changed. The British rewarded Nepal for its service in the war by giving the Government an annual subsidy.
In 1923 Nepal and the British signed a Treaty of Friendship, and Nepal was recognized as an independent ally of Britain. Nepal was allowed to import arms, ammunition, and machinery from British India, and the Government agreed not to export arms itself nor allow private exports. The Nepal Government was exempt from paying customs duties at British ports in India. Nepal sent an official ambassador to London in 1924, and the next year the League of Nations invited Nepal to participate in a conference on abolishing slavery. Chandra Shamsher replied that Nepal had already abolished slavery and had compensated the former slave-owners. The Gurkhali newspaper published in Benares criticized the Maharaja for neglecting the poverty of his people. Many activists in India believed that Nepal should use their alliance with India to improve their education, health care, agriculture, and administration. However, the Rana family’s main goals were to preserve their traditional way of life and hold on to power.
After governing Nepal for 28 years Chandra Shamsher died, and in November 1929 he was replaced by his brother Bhim Shamsher. In 1930 he stopped an attempted assassination by his grandson, and he quelled a revolt by a few Nepalese who stole arms from an arsenal in Kathmandu. Prime Minister, Bhim Shamsher visited Viceroy Willingdon in 1931, but he died the next year and was succeeded by his half-brother Juddha Shamsher. In 1934 Nepal recognized the British representative as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. Nationalists began to oppose rule by the Rana family in Nepal, and agitation came from India and criticism from the Bihar newspaper Janata in 1938.
During the Munich crisis Juddha Shamsher offered the Foreign Office in London 8,000 men, but the offer was not accepted until war was declared in 1939. General Bahadur Shamsher went to Delhi in November and signed an agreement for Nepal with General de Burgh. Juddha Shamsher refused to let the Nepalese army go overseas, but this did not apply to the Gurkha volunteers in the Indian army. Financial gifts were made for various causes to support the war effort.
When the Congress Party announced civil disobedience for its "Quit India" campaign in August 1942, Nepal’s Prime Minister Bhim Shamsher called them hooligans. He affirmed his policy of seclusion, but he complained that the government of India was not taking measures to keep the road or railway open from India to Nepal. The people and government of Nepal objected to British planes flying over the sacred Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, and the British avoided doing so while using airfields outside the city. The Japanese also vainly tried to get the Nepalese to overthrow the British in India.
Nepal’s Maharaja Juddha Shamsher retired to sacred Hardwar in India and was succeeded by his brother Padma Shamsher in January 1946. Gurkhas were used to quell communal riots between Hindus and Muslims in India because of their neutrality, but during the riots from November 1945 to February 1946 some Hindus were angered by the neutrality and killed a few Gurkhas. When the Gurkhas took the side of the Hindus in August 1946, they were attacked and killed by Muslims.
The English East India Company and the Crown had dual control over Sri Lanka from 1798 until it became the British crown colony of Ceylon in 1802. When Rajadhi Rajasimha died of illness in 1798 with no heir, the leading minister Pilima Talauve enthroned 18-year-old Konnasami as Sri Vikrama Rajasimha. The late King’s brother-in-law Muttusami also claimed the throne of Kandy, but Pilima Talauve arrested him and his sisters. Pilima Talauve was close to the British but could not control Vikrama Rajasimha. The first British governor, Frederick North (1798-1805), proclaimed in 1801 that all rajakariya (royal service) was abolished and replaced it with a tax of one-fifth of their produce on low land and one-tenth on high land. North declared himself head of the salagama caste and appointed Robert Arbuthnot head of the karava caste. The Judicial Charter limited the governor’s autocracy by establishing the Supreme Court and High Court of Appeal.
The Dutch possessions in Sri Lanka were formally ceded to the British in the 1802 treaty of Amiens, but the English Company still retained a monopoly on the colony’s trade. Agents were put in charge of lucrative pearl fisheries, cotton plantations, salt, and tobacco monopolies. In the first three years the government received £396,000 from pearl fisheries. This made up for the lower price of cinnamon because of Dutch stocks in Amsterdam. Buddhists of the salagama caste objected to restricting the upasampada ordination to the goyigama caste, and in 1802 they sent a mission to Burma that was followed by other delegations from the karava and durava castes. The Amarapura Nikaya was open to all castes and spread in the first half of the 19th century.
In January 1803 a British force led by General MacDowell marched to Kandy and found it evacuated. They installed Muttusami, but he was not respected. The British were surrounded by hostile people, lacked food, and suffered disease. MacDowell became ill and left Major Davie in charge. The British abandoned Kandy, and the sick left behind were put to death. Kandyan forces defeated the retreating British at the Mahavali River, executing Muttusami and all the British prisoners except Davie and three others. This Kandyan war lasted for two years because Governor North continued to send forces to the frontiers. When General Thomas Maitland became governor in 1805, he took a defensive posture. He restored the rajakariya labor requirements based on caste, and their services were used for constructing roads. In 1806 the British removed the religious disabilities affecting Catholics in Ceylon. Because those in the Dutch Reformed Church refused to swear allegiance to the British, most of their converts abandoned that sect. The English took over their schools and used their own evangelical indoctrination. Maitland tried to introduce merit into Ceylon’s civil service system in 1808 with fixed salaries to prevent bribes, but this was resisted by those who preferred using seniority. The next year the Governor restricted the High Court’s civil jurisdiction to Colombo.
In 1810 the Charter of Justice gave the Chief Justice more power and introduced jury trials in criminal cases, though caste restrictions were applied. That year Vikrama Rajasimha removed Pilima Talauve from office and, when he revolted, had him executed. Starting in 1812, Europeans were allowed to purchase or receive land grants of up to 4,000 acres. In 1814 the Company’s contract was renewed, but the colony gained a guarantee of £101,000 income per year on cinnamon. Pilima’s nephew Ahalepola also intrigued against the King in 1814 but had to flee to the British, leaving behind his wife and children, who were put to death. John D’Oyly advised that enough Kandyan chiefs opposed the King to warrant British intervention. After royal troops chased insurgents across the Sabaragamuva border, Governor Robert Brownrigg used this as an excuse to lead his planned invasion, proclaiming the British were protecting the Kandyan people from a tyrant. The King’s commander Molligoda had defected, and the British troops entered Kandy in 1815, capturing the fleeing Vikrama Rajasimha. The Kandyan Convention formally ceded the kingdom to the British; but the Kandyan chiefs and monks insisted on clause 5, which declared that the Buddhist religion was to be maintained and protected. In 1816 British officials persuaded slave-owners to emancipate all children of slaves.
Most Kandyans only wanted their unpopular king removed and resented British rule. The provinces of Uva and Vellasa were not subjugated, and in 1817 the ex-monk Vilbave claimed to be the Nayakkar prince Doraisami. Kappitipola led the rebellion in Uva and presided over the new king’s initiation in May 1818. Every chief except Molligoda joined the rebellion or was in British custody. The British overcame the guerrilla tactics of the Kandyans by terrorizing the villagers that harbored them, by stopping their support for the guerrillas, and by destroying food and crops. These scorched-earth tactics also destroyed the irrigation works in Uva. They subdued Uva and Vellasa by September, and reinforcements from India helped defeat the remaining divided rebels. Some Kandyan aristocrats remained loyal to the British and were rewarded. Vilbave was exposed as an impostor, and many believed that the British recapture of the tooth relic was a sign that they were meant to rule the Kandyans. When the Supreme Court questioned the legality of using rajakariya service, Governor Brownrigg enacted a law enabling the government to exact labor. In November 1818 the British proclaimed the unity of Sri Lanka and the reduction of chiefs’ privileges.
Governor Brownrigg (1812-20) demoted chiefs to stipendiaries carrying out the orders of British officials. The British East India Company lost its contract for the cinnamon monopoly to the Colony of Ceylon in 1822. In the first thirty years of the 19th century the per capita consumption of coffee in England increased twenty-fold. Governor Edward Barnes (1824-31) exempted coffee land from taxes and abolished the export duty on coffee. The monopoly on salt gave the Government some profits over a thousand percent. The lower castes were put to work making roads under the traditional rajakariya corvée system that was already using the salagama caste for peeling cinnamon. In 1820 the Supreme Court had granted an appeal by a slave who was sentenced to flogging by a collector in Jaffna, but Barnes decreed that collectors could flog slaves for any offense. Commercial banks extended credit to planters, and the Colony gave them land grants.
The Colonial Office employed a commission to inquire into the colonies at the Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, and Ceylon. William Colebrooke was the only commissioner left when he arrived at Ceylon in 1829. A year later Charles Cameron joined him to investigate the judiciary, while Colebrooke reported on the other branches of government and the administration. Governor Barnes was reluctant to cooperate and had to be pressured by the Colonial Office. Colebrooke wrote four reports on the administration, revenues, expenditures, and a confidential report on the compulsory labor system; Cameron wrote one on the judiciary. The governor of Ceylon had been autocratic, although sometimes the Supreme Court resisted.
Colebrooke proposed unifying the government by bringing in the Kandyan territory as a province along with Colombo, Gale, Jaffne, and Trincomalee. He suggested forming an executive and a legislative council to assist the governor so that he would no longer have complete control over finances. The executive council would be composed of the Government’s Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor-General, Collector of Customs at Colombo, and the Colombo Agent. The Governor had been originating all legislation, but now he would have to share this with the legislative council, which would include non-officials and could subpoena documents, hear witnesses, and direct investigations. The Supreme Court would have the power to certify that new laws were in accordance with English laws. Colebrooke suggested reductions with civil servants that would cut expenditures by a third. In 1831 Robert Wilmot Horton had commented that only 14 of 31 civil servants were definitely competent. The civil service was to be opened to local leaders, and thus education in English for the elite was also instituted. Officials were to be given land grants so that they could live on lower salaries. Colebrooke was influenced by the free-trade movement and recommended that the rajakariya service be abolished. He suggested that the Government withdraw from economic activities, and a Bank of Deposits was to be established to grant loans on reasonable terms.
Cameron proposed changes in the judiciary so that all people could gain their rights easily in a court of law and to prevent courts from being used to injure others. He wanted litigants to be able to act without a lawyer and not have to pay any fees. To help the European judges understand local conditions he suggested each should have an assessor when hearing suits. The judicial branch was to be autonomous so that the executive would not interfere. Most of the Colebrooke-Cameron reforms were adopted by the Colonial Office, though some were altered; starting in 1833 Ceylon became perhaps the most liberal of the British colonies.
After rajakariya labor was abolished in 1833, irrigation works had to be maintained by cultivators. That year the Government ended land grants and began selling land to planters by auction. The British discouraged slavery in the 1830s by requiring registration, and it was formally abolished in 1844. A year earlier caste distinction in jury selection had been ended. Yet lower castes in the Tamil north still could not enter Hindu temples. In 1840 the Government enacted the Crown Land Encroachment Ordinance No. 12 to claim all land that had not been previously granted. A later modification allowed the peasants in the Kandyan highlands to establish their title to their chena lands, forests they had cut and burned for cultivation.
By 1840 so much rice was being imported by Ceylon that the revenue from duties on rice and paddies surpassed the grain tax. Attempts to collect arrears on grain taxes for a decade had been difficult. Coffee plantations spread rapidly in the 1840s, and thousands of laborers made the dangerous journey from India through the malaria-infested dry zone. One effect of the Colebrooke reforms was that fewer civil servants with lower salaries caused many to neglect their duties and engage in plantation activity. In 1844 Colonial Secretary Anstruther began the effort that ended civil servants’ participation in trade and agriculture. In 1845 coffee prices started falling while in three years the acreage of coffee plantations doubled, causing many bankruptcies. Colonial Secretary J. E. Tennent published his Report on the Finances and Commerce of Ceylon in 1846 to remove restrictions on industry and secure free trade. He suggested that reduced or abolished export and import duties as well as grain taxes could be replaced by a land tax, as in India. In the midst of this depression Governor Torrington instead chose new taxes that fell mostly on peasants and the local population.
The Road Ordinance was resented by Kandyans as a revival of compulsory labor, and they rebelled in 1848. The irrigation works were in bad shape, and they also objected to the British encouraging of taverns. Aristocrats objected to the attempt by the Government to break its promise to protect Buddhism. Riots also broke out in Colombo, where they were influenced by European radicalism. Governor George Anderson (1850-55) tried to balance island finances by limiting spending, but rising prices and demand improved the economy.
The School Commission was established in 1834, and by 1839 the Government was sponsoring 39 English schools and five Tamil schools. In 1837 the Secretary of State for Colonies advised Governor Mackenzie to encourage Christian missionaries. Dissenters complained, and Anglican privileges in education, registering births, marriages, and deaths, and state-subsidized church building were eventually eliminated. In 1841 the Government began giving grants to Christian schools, and they replaced some public schools. A campaign in England persuaded the Ceylon government to sever its connection to Buddhism in 1847, and by 1853 the pledge to protect Buddhist institutions was formally ended.
The humanitarian efforts of Governor Henry Ward (1855-60) and the success of the plantation economy led to a successful irrigation project in the Upper Uva, but the failure to diminish malaria and the yaws disease in the sparsely populated dry zone still deterred workers and settlers. While Ward was governor, Ceylon spent one million pounds constructing roads and bridges. Ward also encouraged the use of the communal gansabhavas as an alternative to litigation. An 1858 ordinance decreed that all marriages must be registered and could only be dissolved by divorce, banning polygamy and polyandry.
Governor MacCarthy (1860-63) extracted military contributions and made the railroad from Colombo to the coffee regions his highest priority. By 1863 Sri Lanka had more than 2,000 miles of roads, and the railroad to Kandy was completed in 1867. These improvements in transportation helped coffee dominate the economy of Ceylon by the 1870s. An ordinance of 1866 enabled the Government to seize and sell land for arrears in grain taxes. The number of chena (slash-and-burn agriculture) permits dwindled to a very few. Coffee plantations increased from 196,000 acres in 1871 to 773,000 acres in 1878, but the hemileia vastratrix leaf disease first appeared in 1869 and spread gradually in the 1870s before devastating the coffee plantations in the 1880s. Tea plantations needed more steady workers, and resident workers from India increased from 123,000 in 1871 to 235,000 in 1881.
After 1847 the Government promoted schools in native languages, and by 1869 there were 64 government schools using Sinhala and Tamil along with 40 bilingual schools using English. The number of schools increased dramatically in the 1870s from 140 in 1869 to 838 in 1874 and 1,178 in 1878. A medical college began in 1870, and a law college was founded in 1874.
For eight years after 1856 a state Temple Lands Commission rejected more than half of temple land claims, reducing their property, which could now be sold. Two societies to promote Buddhism were founded in 1862, and the Ramanna Nikaya, established in 1865, aimed to purify the Buddhist community by encouraging vows of poverty and humility. After two written debates between Christians and Buddhists, three public debates were held in 1866, 1871, and 1873. In the last one Migettuwatte Gunananda emerged as an eloquent advocate who encouraged Buddhist activists.
Theosophical Society co-founder Henry Olcott sent Gunananda anti-Christian literature for his Panadura debate. He and Madame Blavatsky came to Ceylon in 1880 and went on a speaking tour to promote Buddhist education, helping the Theosophical Society to found forty Buddhist schools that were run by C. W. Leadbeater and others. A campaign to celebrate the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death as the Wesak holiday began in 1881. When Buddhist celebrations in Kotahena carried on into Easter week of 1883, they were attacked by Roman Catholics in a riot; but an investigation did little to redress the grievances. In 1885 Buddhists designed their own flag.
The Muslim leader Arabi Pasha was exiled from Egypt in 1881 and spent the next 24 years in Ceylon. The lawyer M. C. Siddi Lebbe founded the Muslim Educational Society, which eventually developed the Zahira College. Muslims spoke Tamil, and the newspaper Muslim Naisen was published from 1882 to 1887.
The erudite Arumaga Navalar led the Hindu revival of indigenous Tamils on Sri Lanka. He had founded the Vannarponnai Saiva Pragasa Vidyasalai by 1850. The Saivangala Vidyasalai of 1872 eventually became the Jaffna Hindu College, and after 1888 its Board of Management oversaw more than 150 schools. However, Navalar supported the caste system, and untouchables were still excluded from temples in Jaffna. Many Tamils went to Madras for their university education. By the 1870s Sinhala journals and newspapers were thriving and influencing public opinion. By the turn of the century they were serializing the novels of Simon Silva (1874-1920).
The jurisdiction of the village tribunals was extended in 1870, and traditional chiefs usually headed the tribunals. Governor William Gregory (1872-77) relied on the Kandyan chiefs, and Governor Arthur Gordon (1883-90) especially advanced the dominant goyigama caste. Gregory supported the campaign to end the state subsidy for the few Anglicans, and in 1881 Governor James Longden (1877-83) disestablished the Anglican church. British journalist William Digby published pamphlets calling for representative government by elections in 1876 and 1877, but the Government dismissed his demands as not coming from the Sri Lankans themselves.
In 1880 the civil service examination had to be taken in London, effectively screening out most Sri Lankans. After 1886 the Supreme Court limited Kandyan law to Kandyan Sinhalese and personal issues such as land tenure, inheritance, caste, and personal services for land. Almost all of the Sri Lankans in the civil service were in judicial positions, and creating a separate civil service for Sri Lankans in 1891 changed little. The British government resisted attempts by planters to make the Legislative Council representative. By the 1880s Sri Lankan planters had taken over the agitation. In 1888 the Ceylon Agricultural Association became the Ceylon National Association. The next year the British changed the lifetime appointments to the Council to five-year terms, and the conservative Kandyans and Muslims were each given a representative, leaving out the vocal Low Country Sinhalese. However, the ordinance of 1889 mandated a complicated system of committees and judicial review for choosing the Legislative Council that was too cumbersome.
As the coffee plantations were wiped out by the leaf fungus in the 1880s, they were gradually replaced by tea. In the 1880s coconut plantations increased to 250,000 acres. Their cultivators persuaded the Government to expand railways from Colombo to Matara by 1895, through Kurunagala to Jaffna by 1905, and to Negombo by 1909. Governor Gordon established an Irrigation Fund in 1887 by using a quarter of the grain tax and later import duties on rice and paddy. Many cultivators defaulted because of failure to pay compulsory commutation. In 1888 C. J. R. Le Mesurier reported that more than a thousand villagers died of starvation in the neighborhood of the sanatorium where English officials improved their health and played lawn tennis. This exposure and efforts by The Ceylon Independent and the Cobden Club radicals in England led to the grain taxes being abolished in 1892. In the half century after 1855 the Government spent 13.5 million rupees on irrigation projects. Tamil immigration from India increased the population of Ceylon by 517,000 in the twenty years after 1891. A few Sinhalese families became wealthy by mining and exporting graphite as there were neither income nor inheritance taxes. Profits were also made from selling the alcoholic arrack. A temperance movement was started by Christian missionaries, but after 1900 it was led by Don Spater Senanayake and Buddhists who criticized drinking as part of western culture.
Charles Bruce drafted the Revised Education Code in the 1880s and emphasized primary education for village children. By 1900 more than 1,100 of the 1,328 schools were run by missionary organizations. Thus Christians were far ahead of other religions in literacy. A 1901 census found that only a quarter of school-age children were attending school, and less than 15% of the schools taught any English, the language needed for better employment. However, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims were beginning to get some grants for schools by 1900.
In 1905 Ordinance 8 simplified the procedure for choosing Ceylon’s Legislative Council, and it was implemented two years later. Rubber production boomed after 1905, and many smallholders converted to rubber plantations. By 1910 rubber was Ceylon’s second largest export product after tea. Bullock carts were used for transportation, and their workers went on strike in 1906. James Pieris agitated for letting the educated elite share in the administration of the colony, but Governor Henry MacCallum (1907-13) opposed any constitutional reform. Over his objection Secretary of State for the Colonies Crewe and his Under-Secretary Col. Seely granted some concessions to educated Sri Lankans in 1910. By 1911 the population of Ceylon had passed four million. In 1912 the Legislative Council was increased to 21 members, but only four were elected. The franchise was so restricted that less than 3,000 people voted that year.
The Buddhist-led temperance movement peaked in the three years before the World War. Sinhalese resentment against Muslim traders and money-lenders called Coast Moors led to riots in 1915 during a march commemorating the Kandyan convention of 1815. Railway workers had organized in 1912, and during the riots the British used the opportunity to arrest and deport to the Eastern Province 28 railway workers and some members of the new Young Lanka League, including the future labor leader A. E. Goonesinha. The Government also arrested the temperance movement leaders, including the three Senanayake brothers, D. B. Jayatilaka, and two brothers of exiled Anagarika Dharmapala, even though they were trying to restore order and protect the rights of the Coast Moors. Dharmapala was one of the first to advocate national independence (swaraj), and he was not allowed to return to Ceylon from Bengal until 1920. E. W. Perera, a Sinhalese Christian, went to England and tried in vain for four years to get a commission of inquiry appointed to investigate the riots. The temperance movement was shifted to constitutional issues by its leaders F. R. Senanayake and D. B. Jayatilaka.
The Montagu Declaration of 1917 in India stimulated Sri Lankans to form the Ceylon National Congress in 1919. Ponnambalam Arunachalam of the Ceylon Reform League was the first president of the National Congress. The Sinhalese and Tamils got along as the majority until 1922, when the Tamils began to side with the other minorities. Governor William Manning (1919-25) cleverly divided his opposition by encouraging Kandyan leaders to seek separate representation. In 1921 the Council was expanded to 37 members with 16 elected, and three years later 34 of the 49 members were elected. More than 200,000 people had the right to vote, but women were still excluded. Yet as more people voted, caste became more influential. In education the 1905 Wace Commission recommended a “conscience clause” to prevent Christian missionaries from using their schools for proselytizing. Roman Catholics managed to block this, and even in the 1920 Education Ordinance the burden was placed on the students and parents for invoking it.
After only three Kandyans were elected to the Council, several of their leaders left the Ceylon National Congress in 1925 to form the Kandyan National Assembly. Arunachalam’s brother, P. Ramanathan, became the leader of the Tamils. The Congress organized social groups called mahajana sabhas (people’s councils). The first president of the Sinhala group, F. R. Senanayake, threatened a boycott campaign against the Tamils in 1923, but he died in December 1925. The Kandyans requested a federal state with regional autonomy in 1927.
Goonesinha and the Young Lanka League followed the Gandhian ideals of swaraj and advocated more active opposition to the British. He politicized workers in Colombo, where increasing population caused a shortage of rice. His Young Lanka League opposed the poll tax that forced all adult males to pay 2 rupees annually or work for six days on road construction. Their campaign got the poll tax abolished in 1922, and that year they formed the Ceylon Labor Union, which called a general strike in February and March 1923. Goonesinha urged the Congress to use Gandhian tactics to gain representative government with universal suffrage, and in 1927 he broke with the Congress over this. Goonesinha organized the All Ceylon Trade Union Congress, which led to the Colombo harbor strike in 1927 and the tramways strike of 1929. That year the Employers Federation signed the first collective agreement on wages and working conditions. However, the depression caused the union to moderate its demands.
Ceylon’s economy gradually declined after 1913 and fell precipitously during the Great Depression that started in the late 1920s. After the Great War, the price of rubber went way down; rubber and tea profits suffered from competition with the Dutch East Indies, which agreed to restrict production. A Department of Agriculture began in 1912 and tried to teach peasants better farming. Irrigation in the dry zone brought 20,000 acres into cultivation, but malaria was still a problem. Governor Hugh Clifford (1925-27) appointed a Land Commission which recommended that peasants be given priority. In 1927 a Minimum Wage Ordinance raised wages for plantation workers and made subsidized rice prices for Indian workers mandatory. D. S. Senanayake argued that Sri Lankans should get the same benefits. Population increased by 18% in a decade to 5,310,000 in 1931.
In the 1920s Government schools increased from 919 to 1,490 while mission schools went up more slowly to 2,502 schools. In 1925 Christian denominations controlled five-sixths of English schools receiving state aid, and fifteen of the twenty members of the Ceylon Board of Education were Christians. Education was made compulsory from age five to fourteen, but by 1930 still less than half the children were actually attending. Arunachalam and Ananda Coomaraswamy agitated for a national university, and in 1921 a University College was affiliated with the University of London’s examinations, but this was considered only a half-way house until the University of Ceylon was established in 1942.
The Donoughmore Commission recommended a constitution for Ceylon that went into effect in 1931 with suffrage for men and women over the age of 21, making Sri Lanka the first country in Asia with universal suffrage. The British-appointed governor still held most of the power with three secretaries, and as commander-in-chief he could also take over the administration during war or civil disorder. The legislature was made up of the three secretaries, eight representatives nominated by the governor, and fifty councilors elected from districts. They also made up committees on Home Affairs; Agriculture and Lands; Local Administration; Labor, Industry and Commerce; Communication and Works; Health; and Education. Each committee elected a chairman who was appointed minister by the governor. The seven ministers and three officers formed a board that prepared the budget. Indians could vote after residing five years in Ceylon, and 235,000 Indians were registered to vote by 1939.
The Buddhist Temporalities Act was finally passed in 1931, and in 1942 an ordinance protected the sacred city of Anuradhapura. The Land Settlement Ordinance of 1931 recognized peasant land holdings, and two years later the Minneriya scheme gave them government help in clearing land. The 1935 Land Development Ordinance restricted ownership of land in the new colonies to native Sri Lankans.
Over-production and the Great Depression caused the prices of tea and rubber to plummet. Export revenues decreased from 479 million rupees in 1927 to 189 million in 1932. In three years more than 100,000 immigrant workers returned to India. The Tea Control Ordinance of 1933 confirmed an agreement between the Dutch East Indies, India, and Ceylon to limit their tea exports, and a similar Rubber Agreement was made the next year. Prices then gradually rose. Between 1929 and 1932 about 9,000 Sri Lankans and more than 84,000 Indians lost their jobs. Marxists began to challenge Goonesinha’s labor leadership. They took over the Youth Leagues and organized relief during the malaria epidemic that began in 1934. In 1935 Colvin R. de Silva, N. M. Perera, S. A. Wickremasinghe, and Philip Gunawardane formed the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP). Perera and Gunawardane were elected to the State Council in 1936. That year the Australian Communist Mark Antony Bracegirdle was arrested for union activity and speaking on LSSP platforms while employed by a tea estate company. A writ of habeas corpus was filed, and his right of free speech was defended by the LSSP.
G. G. Ponnambalam led the ethnic Tamils, and in 1937 Solomon Bandaranaike led the Sinhala Maha Sabha. In 1938 the British amended the Donoughmore Constitution with an Order-in-Council to enable the Governor to legislate and control the civil service as the 1935 India Act had done. In 1939 Governor Andrew Caldecott (1937-44) approved constitutional reforms. The next year the Trotskyists in the LSSP who opposed the war expelled the Stalinists, who formed a Communist Party. In June 1940 the LSSP leaders were detained without a trial under the Defence Regulations for opposing the “Imperial War.”
The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) was declared illegal in March 1942. The Japanese Navy bombed Colombo on April 5, 1942, and the LSSP leaders escaped. On the night of May 8 a few gunners in the Ceylon Garrison Artillery mutinied on Horsburgh Island. Order was quickly restored, and three mutineers were executed.
By 1939, 78% of the civil service were Sri Lankans, and in 1943 examinations were held only in Ceylon. The Ceylon National Congress broadened its support in the early 1940s by holding its annual December conferences in rural areas. The Times of Ceylon admitted they had gained “mass appeal,” and the Young Lanka editorialized that they were “evolving a national consciousness.” When D. B. Jayatilaka retired in 1942 to become Ceylon’s ambassador to India at New Delhi, Don Stephen Senanayake became the leader of the Congress; but he was more conservative than the other leaders who demanded independence rather than dominion status. When the Communists joined the Congress in 1943, he resigned to cooperate with British authorities for constitutional concessions. Senanayake saw Sri Lanka as a multi-racial democracy and wanted to keep the state and religion separate. He persuaded Governor Caldecott and commander-in-chief Geoffrey Layton to advocate constitutional advancement for Sri Lanka. On March 26, 1943 the Colonial Office promised to grant Sri Lanka full responsibility for government under the Crown after the war.
The Soulbury Commission drafted a new constitution, and the Crown reserved the right to veto legislation that discriminated against religious and communal minorities; it held constituent powers and still controlled defense and external affairs. Louis Mountbatten was the Supreme Allied Commander for Southeast Asia, and his headquarters were in Ceylon. He approved Senanayake’s request for a constitution commission in 1944, though Senanayake and the Board of Ministers ended up boycotting its public hearings for widening its scope. Senanayake spent the summer of 1945 in London urging dominion status. In November 1945 the State Council voted 51-3 to accept the constitution, which gave most executive power to a prime minister. The mostly elected lower house was to be supreme, and minority interests were protected.
In 1946 the United National Party (UNP) was founded with Senanayake as its leader. They were joined by Bandaranaike’s Sinhala Maha Sabha, the Christians, and the Muslims. When Senanayake learned of Indian independence in 1947, he insisted on no less than dominion status; the British announced this on June 18. The British maintained defense ties and use of airfields and the Trincomalee harbor. Left-wing parties organized a strike and made substantial gains in the elections of 1947. Sri Lanka became an independent nation on February 4, 1948. Unlike the violence in India and Burma, the transition to the new government of Sri Lanka was peaceful. The Tamil leader G. G. Ponnambalam was given a position in the cabinet. The Tamil Congress maintained its identity but joined the coalition in 1948. Only the immigrant Indians were left out. In 1948 and 1949 the UNP passed three new laws that reduced political participation by Indian Tamils. Two Trotskyist groups merged in 1950. Dr. N. M Perera of the LSSP became leader of the opposition, but the Communists did not support him. Doubts about Sri Lanka’s actual independence caused the Soviet Union to deny it admission into the United Nations until 1955.
In the first half of the twentieth century the population of Ceylon increased faster than the area of non-export crops. Thus by 1950 food and drink were 47% of imports. In 1942 the Government set the price of rice above the market rate to encourage production, and this was continued after the war. In 1943 some food prices were frozen, and others were subsidized. The Government took over the importing and distribution of rice, wheat, and sugar. In 1948 the State began providing a mid-day meal for needy children in schools and milk for children between two and five years of age. Tea, rubber, and coconut went from 75% of exports in 1901 to about 90% in 1948; tea exports were 61%. The state got 58% of its revenues from import and export duties. Malaria was controlled in 1948 by spraying DDT, and health expenditures rose fourfold from 1931 to 1947.
Because of its strategic importance during the Japanese occupation of much of Southeast Asia, the economy of Ceylon prospered from the military expenditures which reached 435 million rupees in 1944. Japan controlled the rubber from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies; so Ceylon’s rubber was essential for the Allied war effort, and its price was fixed by the British. The prosperous economy enabled the Government to provide more welfare services in education, health, and other needs with these expenditures reaching 56% of the budget in 1947.
Education minister C. W. W. Kannangara worked for controversial reforms in the Education Ordinance of 1939. By 1947 more than a million children were attending school, and literacy had risen from 26% in 1901 to 58% in 1946. Female literacy had gone from 8.5% to 44%. State expenditures on education went from 7% in 1925 to 19% in 1947. Complaints that only the wealthy could pay the tuition for English schools led to the abolishing of all fees for state-aided schools in 1945. This enabled the number of students in English schools to increase by 71,000 in three years. In 1942 the University of Ceylon was established with faculties in Arts, Science, Medicine, and Oriental Studies. Its enrollment the first year was 904, and this went up to 1,554 students in 1947. Its tuition was also made free in 1945. That year the State Council decided to replace English eventually with the Sinhalese and Tamil languages in administration and law courts.
1. Tibet Disappears by Chanakya Sen, p. 66 quoted in Tibet: A Political History by Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa, p. 303.
This chapter has been published in the book SOUTH ASIA 1800-1950.
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