Want to read the first ever Tibetan newspaper?
The first ever comparatively widely circulated Tibetan newspaper Yulchog Sosoi Sargyur Melong (a mouthful that is given a shorter name in English as Tibet Mirror) can now be read online, thanks to an initiative by Columbia University.
This newspaper was founded by Babu Tharchin, whose biography Called from Obscurity: The Life and Times of a True Son of Tibet -Gergan Dorje Tharchin by H. Louis Fader (published by Tibet Mirror Press, Kalimpong, 2002) I had the privilege to review for the Tibet Journal of the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives. Tharchin la was an ethnic Tibetan Christian from an area bordering Tibet in Himachal Pradesh state of India. He went to Kalimpong on a missionary trip and ended up becoming one of the pathfinders in the Tibetan society.
It is said that the elites in Lhasa enjoyed reading his newspaper as it was the only channel for them to get some world news. In an interview with Tibetan Review of December 1975, Tharchin says, “In the first issue of October 1925, I printed 50 copies and sent most of them to my friends in Lhasa, including one to His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama….He sent me a letter with some gifts congratulating
me and encouraging me to carry on publishing the newspaper.”
The press at which this newspaper was published still exists in Kalimpong. I had the chance to stand in front of it many years back and could not imagine that a history-making newspaper was published from such a simple place.