Tibet invaded northern China in the 600s. When Buddhism was carried to Tibet in the 800s, monks involved in the Transmission were considered especially fearless because the Tibetans were considered to be extremely blood-thirsty. Once the Dharma was established there, the various clan disputes were simply re-iterated along religious grounds. At one point the Sakya school was prominent. Enemies were killed. One of the Karmapas of the Karma Kagyu school made a deal with Kublai Khan for dictatorship over Tibet. However, the fifth Dalai Lama seized control over the capital, Lhasa. For the following centuries the Dalai Lamas as representatives of the Gelug school ruled Tibet.

All of Tibet's history is a matter of small and very vicious internecine wars. During the 1920s and 1930s many Nyingma and Kagyu monasteries were razed, their possesions stolen, and their monks killed by order of Pabhongkapa, the teacher of the present Dalai Lama's tutor. They had evidence of Chinese art, manuscripts, and statuary and thus were denounced as Chinese spies.

The last few floors of the Dalai Lama's palace, the Potala, were prison cells. The current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso was working for reforms when he fled before the Chinese invasion in the 1950s. At that time, a common punishment was having one's head and hands locked in a wooden construction called a "cangue" which rested on the shoulders. Once locked into one of these, one could not eat or defecate without assistance. Unless the family of the condemned felt moved to help, one simply starved and/or died in a mass of urine or feces. No one else would be likely to help. The Tibetans ate prodigious quantities of meat, primarily from yaks but refused to slaughter it themselves, reserving this for the Muslims, who were regarded as damned in any case.

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