ZEMITHANG, India — My friends and I had gone as far as we could toward the border with China. We were tracing, in reverse, the Dalai Lama’s path into India from Chinese-occupied Tibet in March 1959. We stopped in this village, on a rise in the road overlooking a river in the far western corner of India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, to look for anyone old enough to remember the Dalai Lama passing through on his way into exile.
We were unable to find anyone. Restrictions on foreigners’ travel prevented us from driving farther on, so we sent our Indian driver off alone, to the next town toward the border. After some time, he returned with Bumpa, a compact, weathered man in his eighties, in the seat beside him. When the Dalai Lama arrived, Bumpa recalled, he was wearing a robe of reddish brown, “the color that tea leaves make in water.” It was, Bumpa said, “like looking at Avolokiteshvara himself.” Tibetan Buddhists believe the Dalai Lama is the manifestation of Avolokiteshvara, or Chenreizig, the Bodhisattva of compassion, an enlightened being who postpones the attainment of Nirvana to serve humanity. [Source]