The destiny of a culture lies in the heart of a boy.
In 1937, in a remote area of Tibet close to the Chinese border, a a two year old child is identified as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the compassionate Buddha. Two years later, the child is brought to Lhasa where he is schooled as a monk and as head of state amidst the color and pageantry of Tibetan culture. The film follows him into adulthood: when he is 14, the Chinese invade Tibet and he is forced into a shaky coalition government; he travels to China to meet with a cynical Mao; and, finally, in 1959, ill and under siege, he flees to India. Throughout, he has visions of his people's slaughter under Chinese rule.