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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim Thepo on 02/21/2012

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Published on Jan 19, 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: Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim Thepo was born in a village called Phenpa located near to Lhasa. His family farmed barley, peas, mustard and wheat and never sold the produce because villagers did not use money. He reminisces about how wonderful Tibet was because of the freedom to travel and natural beauty. He joined the monastery at age 15 and remembers his feeling of happiness when he donned a monk’s robe for the first time. Monastic life was not easy; there were many chores for novice monks and a lot of scriptures to be memorized. Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim was elected as the private steward of Thepo Rinpoche, whose teacher was Lathi Rinpoche.

Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim had little exposure to the Chinese occupation until a message was sent to his monastery explaining that it was to be bombed by the Chinese and His Holiness the Dalai Lama had fled from Lhasa. Although many monks from the monastery ran into the hills and later returned, Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim continued on the escape to India with Thepo Rinpoche and Lathi Rinpoche. They witnessed many others being captured by the Chinese. After reaching India they were sent to Buxar for a few years, where many died from tuberculosis and suicide.

Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim later became the private secretary for Lathi Rinpoche and stayed with him at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, India. He is now in charge of nearly 20 young monks at Gaden Monastery in Mundgod, India. He describes the daily routine there and also the differences between monasteries in exile and those in Tibet.

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