On this day, an infant named Tenzin Gyatso, future leader of Tibet and bestselling author, is born to a peasant family in Takster, Tibet. At age two, he will be declared the Dalai Lama. In 1999, he will have two bestsellers on the nonfiction lists.
In 1937, the child was declared the reincarnation of a great Buddhist spiritual leader and named the 14th Dalai Lama. His leadership rights were exercised by a regency until 1950. That same year, he was forced to flee by the Chinese but negotiated an agreement and returned to lead Tibet for the next eight years. In 1959, an unsuccessful Tibetan nationalist uprising led to a crackdown by China, and the Dalai Lama fled to Punjab, India, where he established his democratic government in exile. In 1989, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to the nonviolent liberation of Tibet.
In 1998, his book The Art of Happiness, written with psychiatrist Howard Cutler, became a bestseller. His next book, Ethics for the New Millennium (1999), cracked the bestseller lists in August 1999, giving him two titles in the Top 10. Both books offered guidance for happy, simple living. Although drawing on Buddhist teachings, the books argue that spiritual faith is not necessary to live a contented, peaceful life.
He has since written several more books and, in 2005, was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.