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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Lhakpa on 5/22/2012

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Published on Mar 16, 2018

The interpreter's English translation provided during this interview is potentially incomplete and/or inaccurate. If you are not fluent in Tibetan, please refer to the interview transcript for the complete and correct English translation. Read the interview transcript in English at http://tibetoralhistory.org/Interview...

** This interview about life in Tibet was conducted by the Tibet Oral History Project. This non-profit organization aims to preserve the history and culture of the Tibetan people by interviewing elderly Tibetan refugees about life in Tibet before and after the Chinese invasion. Learn more at http://www.TibetOralHistory.org.

** Interview Summary: Lhakpa was born in the village of Kyirong Magal and recounts that his family owned 40-50 animals, worked in the fields and performed government tasks as a form of tax. He talks about keeping horses ready for the atung 'postman' who came to deliver letters from the government. He recalls taking food to the ngagpa 'shamans' and monks that lived on retreat in caverns in the mountains. The villagers requested help from ngagpa during times of drought and other difficulties. The ngagpa were known for being able to start or stop rain. Lhakpa travelled to Lhasa at age 25 to visit relatives and go on pilgrimage to monasteries. Upon returning to his village he witnessed how the Chinese initially tricked the Tibetans with dhayen 'silver coins' and helped the villagers, then later harassed and imprisoned them. Many influential Tibetans fled at this time, including Lhakpa's family, but he chose to stay in the village in order to fulfill a promise he had made to the manager of the local monastery. Lhakpa relates that he was selected to stay in Tibet until he and two others were able to safely escort the sacred Kyirong Jowo 'statue of Buddha Sakyamuni' from his village's monastery to Nepal. He gives a detailed account of the planning, the replacement of the statue with a fake one and the execution of the dangerous mission. He explains that the fear of the holy icon being smuggled to China compelled them to embark on this plan. His journey ends with the Jowo safely in Nepal. Later the Jowo was brought to India by plane and installed in Dharamsala.

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