The events surrounding the 7th Dalai Lama‘s death are well documented in Manchu sources since the Manchu officials in Lhasa regularly reported to the Qianlong emperor (1). In this series, I’ll try and post transcriptions and translations of several of these documents.The first one is a memorial by Umitai and Sarašan, dated QL22.2.3 (March 22, 1757) and informing the emperor that the Dalai Lama’s health had taken a turn for the worse.
aha umitai sarašan gingguleme wesimburengge. donjibume wesimbure jalin.
duleke aniya aniya biyade. oktosi lii de ming. dzang de isinjifi. dalai lamai nimeku be dasabume okto omibuha ci. dalai lamai nimeku ulhiyen ulhiyen i sain oho. damu kemuni majige fucihiyara babe. aha be. onggolo gemu. donjibume wesimbuhebi.
Your servants Umitai and Sarašan respectfully memorialize. To inform.
During the 1st month of last year, the physician Lii De Ming arrived in Tibet and treated the Dalai Lama’s illness by having him take medecine, the Dalai Lama gradually recovered. We previously memorialized that he was only still coughing a little.
ere aniya aniya biyai orin jakūn de. dalai lamai beye šahūrun goifi. fe nimeku fukderefi umesi hejeme beye gubci hūsun akū. asuru jeterakū. cira labdu yadalinggū oho. ede aha be uthai oktosi lii de ming be gaifi. dalai lamai sudala be tuwafi. udu mudan okto omibuha. umai yebe ojoro muru akū.
On the 28th day of the 1st month of this year, the Dalai Lama caught a cold and his previous illness surfaced back. He was breathing with difficulty and his whole body had no strength. He wasn’t eating much and his face became long and weak. We then brought the physician Lii De Ming, who took the Dalai Lama’s pulse and had him take medecine several times. There was no sign of improvement at all.
juwe biyai ice juwe de. g’ablon i gung bandida se jifi alahangge. dalai lamai nimeku be tuwaci. ulhiyen ulhiyen i ujen ombi. umai yebe ojoro muru akū ofi. šang ni jaka hacin be tucibufi. dzang de bisirele juktehen de lamasa be isabufi. gurim nomun hūlabucibe. be alimbaharakū geleme ofi. ambasa de donjibumbi seme alambi.
On the 2nd day of the 2nd month, Count Bandida of the G’ablon(2) and others came and reported: “As for the Dalai Lama’s illness, it is gradually becoming serious. Because there is no sign of improvement, even if we bestowed all kinds of things(3), assembled the lamas in every temple of Tibet, and had sutras recited, we are scared and inform the ambans.”
ede aha be uthai oktosi lii de ming de kimcime fonjifi. lii de ming ni gisun. dalai lamai ere mudan nimeku fukderekengge umesi ujen. sukdun yadalinggū. hejerengge nimecuke. mini muterei teile gūnin akūmbume udu mudan okto omibuha gojime. umai tusa ohakū. te bi yargiyan i encu arga baharakū oho sembi.
Consequently, we carefully interrogated the physician Lii De Ming, he said: “This time the Dalai Lamai’s relapse is very serious. His breath is weak and he has terrible breathing difficulties. I did everything I could think of and made him take medecine several times but it did not help in any way. Now I truly cannot think of anything to do.”
aha be. dalai lamai muru be tuwaci. nimekulehengge ujen gelecuke. oktosi lii de ming. inu yebe obume dasame muterakū ohongge yargiyan. ubai g’ablon seci. geren lamasa. tanggūt urse de isitala alimbaharakū gūnin jobošome gelerakūngge akū. kemuni ejen kesi isibume. encu sain oktosi šangnara be erehunjeme gūnimbime. dalai lama inu ejen i kesi isibure be ereme gūnire muru be dahame. bairengge. ejen kesi isibume. encu emu sain oktosi šangnafi unggireo. uttu ohode. dzang ni gubci ursei gūnin be tohorombumbime. dalai lamai nimeku de inu tusa ombi. erei jalin oktosi lii de ming ni nikan afahari be suwaliyame gingguleme donjibume wesimbuhe.
If we consider the Dalai Lama’s situation/appearance, his illness is frightfuly serious. That the physician Lii De Ming could not heal him is true. From the local G’ablons to the lamas and the inhabitants, there is no one who is not greatly worried and frightened. Still there is hope that the Emperor will show his kindness and send another skilled physician, and because the Dalai Lama also hopes that the Emperor will show his kindness, we beg that the Emperor may show his kindness and send another skilled physician. If so, the minds of all the inhabitants of Tibet will be appeased and this will also be beneficial to the Dalai Lama’s health. For this reason, we have respectfully memorialized and joined to this memorial a document written in Chinese by Lii De Ming.
*hese wasimbuha. uthai ubaci unggimbi.
abkai wehiyehe i orin juweci aniya juwe biyai ice ilan.
*An edict has been sent. [A physician] will be sent from here.
Abkai Wehiyehe, 22nd year, 2nd month, 3rd day.
(1) For an overview of the 7th Dalai Lama’s death and the events that followed, see Wang, “The Qing Court’s Tibet Connection: Lcang skya Rol pa’i rdo rje and the Qianlong Emperor“, in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 60 No. 1, 2000, pp. 138-151.
(2) The council of ministers, or one of the ministers.
(3) To monks taking part in the ceremonies.