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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Kalsang Dakpa on 5/16/2012

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Published on Mar 2, 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: Kalsang Dakpa was born in Namay village, which he describes as the birthplace of Chogyal Norsang, a religious king of Tibet. Kalsang Dakpa's father was a boot maker and a tailor. He describes the different types of boots and dresses that his father stitched. He became a monk at the age of 3, but continued to live at home for a few more years. Once he moved to the monastery he was assigned duties as a conch blower and kitchen worker. Kalsang Dakpa talks about the various stages in a monk's life, such as taking the rabjung and gelong vows. He explains the daily meals, division of labor and studies at the monastery. He was not good at memorizing religious texts and was relegated to making tea offerings. Once he turned 20 he became a kitchen overseer. Kalsang Dakpa ran away from the monastery to join his brother on a pilgrimage. He talks about his journey to Bodh Gaya in India and Lhasa soon after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Kalsang Dakpa recounts that the Chinese initially ordered monks in his monastery to subject their deceased leaders to thamzing 'struggle sessions.' Then they were told to falsely accuse and beat living people and Kalsang Dakpa did not like to be forced to do such acts. He was also discouraged because the Chinese had banned religious practice in the monastery. He and five other monks decided to escape to India in 1959.

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