Lha-bzang Khan

Lha-bzang Khan (Tibetan: ལྷ་བཟང༌།, ZYPY: Lhasang; Mongolian: ᠯᠠᠽᠠᠩ ᠬᠠᠨ Lazang Haan; alternatively, Lhazang or Lapsangn or Lajang; d. 1717) was chief of the Khoshut (also spelled Qoshot, Qośot, or Qosot) tribe of the Oirat Mongols and the son of Dalai Khan (1668-1701) and grandson of Güshi Khan and the last Khoshut-Oirat King of Tibet. He became Khan by poisoning his brother Vangjal (who ruled 1701-1703). Since Güshi's time, the Khoshuts had lost real power in Lhasa to the Regent there. Lha-bzang set about to change this.

He attacked Lhasa with the approval of his ally, China's Kangxi Emperor, in 1705 to depose the 6th Dalai Lama. Accounts differ as to whether he was sincerely offended by the 6th's scandalous behavior, or he merely used it as an excuse. In any case, Lha-bzang had been excluded from Lhasa court affairs by the regent Sanggye Gyatso, who had allied himself with the Zunghar Khanate, and even attempted to poison Lha-bzang and his chief minister. The regent lost 400 men in a decisive battle. Lha-bzang killed the regent and forcibly sent the Dalai Lama to China. The Dalai Lama died on the way, possibly killed on Lha-bzang's orders. He then had a new Dalai Lama (a 7th, according to Stein, or as a new/real 6th, according to Smith and Mullin ) enthroned without consulting with the religious authorities. Tibetans as well as Lha-bzang's Khoshut rivals rejected this Dalai Lama. Kangxi recognized Lhazang's choice, but hedged his bets (considering the opposition from other Khoshuts and the Tibetans), protected Kelzang Gyatso in Kumbum.

The Tibetans turned to Tsewang Rabtan of the Zunghars for relief. An army of 6000 Zunghars under Tsering Dhondup defeated and killed Lha-bzang in Lhasa in 1717. A smaller Zunghar force of 300 attempted to retrieve Kelzang Gyatso from Kumbum, but was defeated by Kangxi's troops. The Zunghars, initially welcomed by the Tibetans amidst expectations that they would free them of Lha-bzang and enable the installation of Kelzang Gyatso, lost Tibetan goodwill quickly by looting Lhasa and persecuting the Nyingma.

Mullin portrays Lha-bzang Khan as a pious man who cultivated Tibetan religious authorities in every way possible, who was nevertheless rejected by the Tibetans because he was the first foreigner in almost 500 years to rule Lhasa.

Last update 18-06-2012

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