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APU selects Dalai Lama as Person of Century, Genghis Khan as Person of Millennium

The staff at AsiaPacificUniverse.com (APU) has selected the Dalai Lama as the Person of the Century and Genghis Khan as the Person of the Millennium.

Each choice was made based on the impact of the individual, good or bad, on the lives of people around the world particularly in regards to the future.

In selecting the Dalai Lama as Person of the Century, we had to struggle with between the latter and Mahatma Gandhi. Both were known as advocates of non-violent resistance. In this sense, one is tempted to choose Gandhi who, after all, served as a model for many including, to an extent, the Dalai Lama himself.

What made us finally choose the Dalai Lama was the extent to which he has acted as a bridge for the flow of "Eastern" ideas to the rest of the world. Few people have campaigned around the globe like his Holiness, and in the process the world of Eastern spiritual and philosophical ideas have been revealed more than ever.

Influence in next millennium

The Hollywood phenomenon of Buddhist or Buddhism-inspired stars is probably at least partly if not quite significantly due to this influence. People of all ranks throughout the world have taken notice of this humble and yet engaging representative of the Tibetan people. The ideas of compassion he espouses and teaches have made headway in some of the most unlikely places. Unlike Gandhi whose work was mostly in India and centered at the liberation of his people, the Dalai Lama was able to meet many ordinary people in his extensive travels.

With the common person, it is that connection that works most effectively and will likely to have effect long into the future.

Thus, the Dalai Lama serves not only as one of our longest-suffering advocates of non-violent resistance. In the next millennium, we predict, that his influence over the present thousand years will be among the strongest factors in the meeting of minds between the "East" and the rest of the world.

Genghis Khan's victories create bridge between East and West

Genghis Khan is viewed as a national hero in his native country of Mongolia and as nothing less than the scourge of hell by historians of some countries he invaded.

But whatever moral judgements one makes, the impact that his conquests had on the history of the planet is hard to debate.

The Mongol empire founded by Genghis opened the lines of communication between Asia and the West as never before. Important technologies developed in China such as gunpowder, the magnetic compass, the mechanical clock and the printing press made their way to Europe during this time.

Of course, this was not probably the intent of the great Khan, but the safe roadways established by the empire across vast stretches of Asia allowed for an unprecedented flow of ideas and people. Marco Polo and Friar Odoric are among the many European travelers who ventured East to witness the great Mongol empire.

The technologies that passed along the same roads eventually led to the great European 'Age of Exploration.' In many ways, they also contributed indirectly to the founding of the Industrial Revolution.

The Mongol conquests of Genghis Khan may have helped the Age of Exploration in another way as well. Prior to his march across Central Asia, a powerful confederacy of empires known as the Seljuks had established themselves in Samarkand, Iran and modern-day Turkey.

Although the Moorish power in Europe was waning at this time, the Seljuks may have offered a real threat both to Europe and to the East. As an example, after the Mongols conquered the Seljuks, a small remnant clan of the Rum Seljuks, the Osmanli, were still able to conquer Constantinople and march all the way to the banks of Danube. The resulting Ottoman Empire ruled the Balkans for centuries.

If the Ottomans alone could do this, what could have a united Seljuk power been able to accomplish? Would the European kingdoms have been able to divert resources to explore faraway lands?

The Mongol threat to Europe was limited probably by the vast extent of their empire. But that might not have been the case had the Seljuks rallied the Muslim world against 'Christendom.' Even the exploration of the Portuguese in Asia was aided to some extent, in India at least, by the Moguls, who descended from the Khan.

The conquests of Genghis changed the face of many countries. The Soviet Union, the largest European empire, was deeply influenced by Mongol rule. When Viktor Suvorov, a Soviet intelligence officer defected during the Cold War, he wrote a book on Soviet military strategy. No military strategist of the past was mentioned in this book like Genghis Khan.

The Golden Horde, Tamerlane, the Moguls all mentioned with reverence the great Khan who forged their empire. Had he not arose, one could wonder what course history would have taken. Constantinople and the Crusader fortresses of the Levant fell to Muslim armies even after the vast destruction of Islamic states wrought by the once-refugee from the Steppe. Would the technologies that were key to the rise of European colonization still have been acquired?

Those questions can't be answered, but we think it can be said that no one person facilitated so much change directly or indirectly over the millennium. The only other person we considered was the Prophet Muhammad. Certainly if he had not been born, the world would be vastly different. But we can really only say this about the so-called "Old World." The life of the man born as Temuchin altered, in our view, the course of history around the globe.


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