His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Anen Dawa. Photo/Twitter/Jigme Ugen

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Dharamshala, India — The last surviving personal bodyguard of His Holiness the Dalai Lama passed away at the age of 83. He died peacefully surrounded by his family members in Minnesota, United States on December 27, 2020.

Anen Dawa, the last surviving personal bodyguard of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama who accompanied His Holiness from Tibet since 1959, died at the age of 83 in Minnesota US with family members by his side. He was born in 1939. He was only 15 years when he joined the personal army of the Tibetan spiritual in Norbulingka in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Four years later, he was formally inducted in the army and continued to serve as a personal guard to His Holiness through his schooling in Sera, Drepung and Gaden, three main and largest monasteries of Gelu school of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet for the next 4 years and particularly, during the Lhasa Monlam ceremony when His Holiness was receiving Geshe Lharampa Degree (a degree equivalent to Ph. D or higher) in February 1959.

In the most critical turn of events in March 1959, when the Tibetan uprising was crushed and the threat of Chinese military attacks was ever-growing, on the fateful night of March 17 1959, His Holiness accompanied by tens of thousands of Tibetans fled into exile to India. Anen Dawa at the risk of his own life fulfilled his duties to ensure the safety of the Tibetan spiritual leader to exile. After arriving safely in India on 31 March, 1959 the accompanying personal bodyguards and a group of volunteers decided to return to Tibet to mount a resistance against the Chinese forces. At the time as the youngest of them, Anen Dawa and another bodyguard were asked by His Holiness to accompany him to Mussourie in Uttarakhand, India where His Holiness would establish his first residence.

In accordance with His Holiness’ instructions, he was among the first batch of 50 students who were enrolled in the Tibetan Refugee Educational Institute, Mussoorie established in 1960. After completing schooling, Anen Dawa served the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) dedicatedly in the capacity of a translator and facilitator for Tibetan refugees arriving in Nepal. He then pursued his further studies in the US at Cornell University and later at Boston from where he graduated with distinction.

He was posted to Nepal to serve as the accountant at CTA-administrated factory in 1972. Anen Dawa from 1979 onwards for many years, he worked tirelessly for children’s health, Tibetan culture and ethics-based education at Tibetan Homes School in Mussourie. He immigrated to Minnesota, US through the resettlement policy in 1996 and retired from service where he lived for the rest of his life. Anan Dawa passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on December 27, 2020. The deceased is survived by his wife Khando Dawa, three children Tseyang, Choewang and Choephel, and granddaughter Zenden. He will always be remembered by the rest of Tibetans for his selfless dedications to Tibetan communities.