Archive | December 2008

What Ails All India Radio’s Tibetan Service?


If there is one example of shortsightedness of Indian policy makers when it comes to Tibet, then it definitely is the Tibetan service of All India Radio. I wrote the following article nearly two years back, and a recent check revealed that things have remained the same even now. For the life of me I cannot understand why the target area is just the Tibet Autonomous Region. There are even more Tibetans living outside of the TAR in Kham and Amdo areas, not to speak about the Tibetan-speaking population along the southern belt of the Himalayas in Bhutan and Nepal.

However, here are some other interesting facts about the Tibetan service as published by All India Radio’s External Services Division.

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Tibetans and Vegetarianism

In terms of social changes in the Tibetan community, dietary preference is something that is slowly making its mark. Many people feel Tibetans being Buddhist and mostly non-vegetarian is something contradictory. Tibetans have a historical-geographical justification for prefering meat. Anyway, among the attempts made was the transformation of the cafeteria for officials of the Tibetan Government in Dharamsala into Vegetarian for one year in 2007. I wrote about it then and here it is.

Veggie Days at the Tibetan Staff Mess
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review, May 2007

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Of Tibetan Monastery and the West

Here is something that I wrote in 1999 concerning developments in Tibet in the past and the ongoing development among Tibetans in the West. The points raised in these items are relevant even today, I would think.

How could they do this to the Monastery?

Bhuchung K. Tsering

Tibetan Review, November 1999

The elderly Tibetan was telling me about an incident that took place in his town, not far away from Lhasa. “I heard that one day the soldiers came and surrounded the monastery. I was a little boy then. I heard that the soldiers asked to be let in so that they could meet the head lama. But the monks who were confronting them would not allow them in. Hectic argument began and the situation was becoming tense. By then the head lama, whose residence was above the monastery and so was observing the development,opened his windows and asked the monks to let the soldiers come and meet him. The monks relented.”

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Tibet and SAARC


The challenge to Tibet is not solely in the political field. Even in terms of geography, it is broadly included in Central Asia historically whereas present political reality makes it a part of East Asia. In terms of both geography and culture, South Asia can also lay a claim on Tibet. Here is an article that I wrote for the Nepal-based international magazine Himal South Asia.

Tibet and SAARC

By Bhuchung K Tsering
Himal South Asia, April 2007

When reports about the possible entry of China into SAARC first appeared a few years back, quite a few eyebrows went up. When China was subsequently given observer status to the organisation in 2005, some wondered whether SAARC would now be used as a forum for a proxy India-China battle for regional dominance. As a Tibetan living in Southasia, China’s connection with SAARC has long held a particular interest for this writer. And indeed, if there is any direct relevance to China’s involvement in SAARC, it is due to Tibet. In terms of physical geography alone, the main connection between today’s People’s Republic of China and Southasia is through Tibet.

But what has SAARC got to do with Tibet? Read More…

Gedun Choephel and the Snow Lion


Tibetan scholar Gedun Choephel was an iconoclast pure and simple. Here is a column I wrote about him which sort of corroborates this.

Gedun Choephel and the Snow Lion
Bhuchung K. Tsering

Tibetan Review, March 2007

Any Tibetan who considers himself or herself as being educated, modern-minded, or just “different” will lose no time in swearing by the name of Gedun Choephel. After all, he embodied the dissatisfaction of all Tibetans at the status quo of our system and championed the call for a virtual social revolution in Tibet.

Gedun Choephel’s writings included Gyalrab Debther Karpo (The White Annals), Ludup Gonggyen (Ornament of Nagarjuna’s Thoughts), guide to major pilgrimage sites in India, and Dhoepay Tenchoe (The Art of Love).  I was however intrigued by one of his shorter writings called Riwo Himalay Tenchoe (Treatise On the Himalayan Mountains).

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China, Europe and the Dalai Lama

China, Europe and the Dalai Lama

The recent Chinese over reaction to French President Nicholas Sarkozy meeting the Dalai Lama in Poland is but part of the broader challenge that the international community face in terms of its relationship with China. How can governments adhere to basic human values while adjusting to political necessities?

In the light of the recent high profile visit of His Holiness to Belgium, the Czech Republic and Poland, I am reproducing here an editorial I wrote for the Tibetan Bulletin, the official journal of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in 1994 on a similar theme. This makes me feel that although things change, they are constant.

Bhuchung K. Tsering

Sending the right message
Tibetan  Bulletin
July-August 1994

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The omnipresent Dalai Lama

The omnipresent Dalai Lama
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Last Page column
Tibetan Bulletin, July-August 1994

This item comes without being discourteous to His Holiness the
Dalai Lama.

What would you say, if I told you His Holiness recently displayed his omnipresence by manisfesting himself physically in two different places at the same time? Followers of Tibetan Buddhism would, without hesitation, say that this is possible given our belief in the divine power of His Holiness. In
fact, we generally believe that beings like His Holiness, who have reached a certain spiritual level, can manifest themselves in as many places as they so desire. Doubtful Thomases may, however, say, “But this can’t be possible.”

Yet, such an event really took place, and an Indian ambassador and a governor of an American state can testify to this fact. After reading this story, even a confirmed athiest or a diehard rationalist will have to accept the
fact that the incident indeed happened. The historic date for this phenomenon was April 14, 1994. In the afternoon of that day, while His Holiness was meeting with an Indian ambassador in one part of the world, he was also having tea around the same time with a governor of an American state in another part of the world.

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Appreciating the Wish Fulfilling Jewel

Appreciating the Wish Fulfilling Jewel
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review
November 2007

In October 2007, the United States bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Washington, D.C.  This fourteenth incarnation of one of the world’s foremost statesmen has had far greater exposure to the international community than all of his predecessors combined. In the process he has been rightly admired and recognized by governments, institutions and organizations, not to speak of oceans of individuals, for his contribution to the development of world civilization. So, can we try to quantify the significance of this latest approbation in the form of the Congressional Gold Medal?

While participating in the Voice of America’s Tibetan TV program in late September, during which they covered the preparations for the Congressional Gold Medal event, I was posed a question by one of the callers from India. He talked about the very many awards to His Holiness over the years and asked what these have really delivered? This question is something to think over.

When we try to analyse the impact of international recognition of His Holiness, we should bear in mind the fact that they can be both direct and indirect. Or to put it in Tibetan cultural context, the impact can be Ngoe (direct), Shug (indirect), and Gyud (through another channel).  It will not do for us to try to bracket the impact solely to the superficial level and find them wanting.

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Tibetan Culture in the 21st Century

Tibetan Culture in the 21st Century
By Bhuchung K Tsering

When tracing our cultural heritage, we Tibetans talk about three main sources of influence: for our spiritual tradition we looked towards our neighbor to the south, India; for our culinary tradition towards our neighbor to the east, China; and, for our style of dress we looked towards our neighbor to the northeast, Mongolia. We amalgamated these borrowings with our existing traditions to come out with a distinctly Tibetan culture. His Holiness the Dalai Lama points to the khata, the Tibetan greeting scarf, as a concrete example of this fusion of influences. The khata’s origin can be traced to India, but it has been mostly manufactured in China, and it is used only in the Tibetan cultural areas.

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Buddhism for the Modern Tibetan

Buddhism for the Modern Tibetan
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan World magazine, June 2007

Let me indulge in some rambling thoughts about religion.  One of the
challenges before young Tibetans of today is how to approach their
religious heritage. This is because of the change in the environment
in which many Tibetans are living today. There may be some Tibetans
who are able to adopt an appropriate approach and thereby get the
benefit of spiritualism. Others may have not really tried finding an
approach and also may not care much for they may not see the relevance
of religion in their day-to-day lives. There may be others who may not
even have made an attempt at understanding but use the superficial
knowledge they have about religion and pass negative judgments against
it.

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