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A short biography of Silon Lukhangpa.

Although I wish to compose a detailed life account of my noble father Lukhangpa (Klu khang pa), who was a former Prime Minister of Tibet, in commemoration of his kindness, I lack the confidence to do so. The first reason is that when I was a child, I could not observe his way of thinking and manner of working, nor could I achieve much in my education. The second reason is that my father was very reserved person--he would never talk about official matters with any members of his family. At home, he used to spend morning and evening time mostly drafting official letters, so I did not get time to ask him about his life and past. However since he was one of the recent officials of the Tibetan government who served with great dedication and sincerity, I believe that his biography will prove beneficial to the younger generations. Based mainly on His Holiness the Dalai Lama's autobiography My Land and My People and the information sent to me by my uncle Shakabpa (Wangchuk Deden) (1), with whom my father worked for many years, I have compiled this compact life account of Lukhangpa; I have not made any fabrications or extravagant exaggerations about him.

First of all, regarding his genealogy, one of his ancestors was an official of the Ganden Phodrang Government during the period of the Seventh Dalai Lama (Kalsang Gyatso). He had been appointed as a nangso (nang so), or the internal intelligence, and posted in Phanyul ('phan yul), the seat of Kadampa tradition of Buddhism. He was granted an estate, and supported by a document bearing the official seals of the Dalai Lama and the Kashag, as source of income in lieu of salary. He became one of the 25 families in Phanyul who had received the title of Nangso. Since then his successive generations served in the Tibetan government continuously, without any gap.

Lukhangpa (my father) served as a caretaker of the Lui Phodrang (klu'i pho brang), the Naga's Palace, which was located behind the Potala Palace, where the successive Dalai Lamas used to visit in summer to perform prayers for rain (char 'bebs) and to have a rest. He therefore became known as Lukhangpa, meaning "caretaker of the Naga's Palace". In the government's record, the family's estate name was Dekharwa (Bde mkhar ba).

When the Thirteenth Dalai Lama visited the Place in the summer, he used to converse with Lukhangpa affably and would personally instruct him regarding the renovation and maintenance of the Palace.

Lukhangpa's father Tsewang Gyurme (tshe dbang 'gyur med) spent his whole life in the service of the government in various capacities. I was told that when the Manchu forces led military expedition into Tibet (in the Water-Rat year, 1912) Tsewang Gyurme was serving as the district officer of Tsegang in Kongpo. The Chinese army leaders asked him to arrange accommodation to them, but he protested strongly. The Chinese therefore forcefully imprisoned and they tortured him severely.

Silon Dekharwa Tsewang Rapten (bde mkhar ba tshe dbang rab brtan) [Lukhangpa] was born in the Fire-Monkey year, 1896. During his childhood, he attended the Ganden Shar School in Lhasa. He was extremely tough by nature and was the most mischievous among many other students in his school. He used to mediate whenever there was quarrel among his schoolmates. In the field of study, he was a very industrious and keen learner.

At the age of thirteen, Lukhangpa had to shoulder the responsibility of his family, as his father was no more. He joined the Accounts Office of the Tibetan government as a trainee accountant.

At the age of seventeen, he was appointed as a lowest ranking clerk at the Shokor office (2), where he worked for two years. After that, he was raised to the post of the sixth ranking accountant in the account office "Phuntsok Kopa (excellent design)" at the main Shokor office. The functions of the account office in those times included maintaining proper records of annual revenues collected from various districts, taxes from government and monastic estates, such as Tengyeling Labrang, managing the storehouses and storage of grains and preparing and sending the army's salary. Besides that, he would teach linguistics and accounts as well as rules and regulations of the government to new recruits to the Shokor office.

In the Water-Ox year, 1913, he was appointed to the Kashag secretariat as the assistant to Kalon Lama Jampa Tendar (bka 'blon bla ma byamspa bstan dar), the Governor-General of Kham. He accompanied Jampa Tendar wherever he went. Initially, they stayed at Lho Dzong until they pushed out all the Chinese troops from Riwoche, Pasho and Khyungpo Karnagsersum, and subsequently retook the whole region of Chamdo from Chinese control. Thereafter, the headquarters of the Governor-General was shifted to Chamdo. He sincerely helped the Governor-General in his works there such as issuing decrees, dispatching additional troops, staff and weapons to all the Tibetan army camps there. It was said that whenever people under his jurisdiction submitted him petitions about their problems, he tried to solve their problems immediately; he did not cause even the slightest trouble to them for his personal gain. When the Governor-General's term expired, he returned to Lhasa. At that time, unlike others, he did not made efforts to collect material goods, but brought back with him two sacks of texts and books.

Back in Lhasa, he continued to serve in the Kashag secretariat. While performing his official duties, he, out of great concern and without favoritism, tried his best to help the poor and hapless people get responses from the authorities to their petitions and requests in the earliest possible time.

In the Water-Pig year, 1923, when Shape Tsarong (Dasang Dradul), went to visit the Tibetan Mint Norbu Tsokyil in Yatung at the instruction of the government and to visit holy places in India and Nepal, Lukhangpa was sent with him as his assistant. When Lukhangpa received secret petitions and requests from villagers along the journey, he submitted them immediately to Tsarong.

When Kalon Lama Jampa Tendar once again was sent to Eastern Tibet to become its Governor-General, Lukhangpa was again made his secretary. He accompanied Jampa Tendar to eastern Tibet. After Jampa Tendar passed away there, he continued the activities of the Governor-General, and then returned to Lhasa. He was appointed as the person in charge of the government's treasury in Lhasa with the same rank. Besides his regular official duties, he served as the construction supervisor of the renovation of the eastern complex of the Potala Palace, the staff quarters of the Chensil Place at Norbulingka and temples at Potala and Sho.

In the Water-Monkey year, 1932, when Khendrung Ngoshiwa (Thupten Kunkhen), the head of the Drapchi Electrical Machine Office, was suddenly sent to northern Tibet to become its Governor-General, Lukhangpa took the responsibility of printing colored currency notes for about a year until Khendrung arrived back. During that time, besides maintaining the record of notes printed, he kept proper records of the quantity of paints and other materials, even waste papers. It was said that the Thirteenth Dalai Lama was impressed with his work.

Later when the golden sepulture of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama called Gelek Dojo (dge legs 'dod 'jo), or "wish granting" was constructed, under the guidance of Shape Trimon (Norbu Wangyal) and his assistant Khendrung Rampa Thupten Kunkhen, Lukhangpa took the entire responsibility of managing the accounts of gold, silver and bronze, the grain-salary of the workers and other accounts. He served in this capacity for some time with great dedication and efficiency.

In the Wood-Dog year, 1934, with the Governor-General of Hor States, Rimshi Kashopa (Chogyal Nyima), the investigation committee comprising Khendrung (Dombopa) Khenrab Wangchuk, Dapon Nangkarpa (Wangchuk Tharchin) of the Bodyguard Regiment, Lhasa steward Lukhangwa and Tsedrung Tenpa Jamyang investigated the case of Lungsharwa Dorje Tsegyal, who had founded a party called Kyichok Kunthun (skyidphyogs kun mthun) "unity on the side of happiness", collecting many government officials and ordinary people on the pretext of doing it for the common good. The case was decided successfully. In that year, a post of secretary became vacant in the Kashag secretariat, and Lhasa Steward Lukhangwa was appointed as a senior secretary to the Kashag.

In the Fire-Ox year (1937), when returning from China, the (ninth) Panchen Rinpoche Chokyi Nyima proposed to take Chinese troops along with him as his escort. The full Tibetan National Assembly met and discussed the matter, during which all the members expressed their own views. Lukhangpa voiced that apart from arranging him the traditional official reception accorded customarily to the Dalai Lamas and the Panchen Lamas, no Chinese troops should be allowed to accompany him on the pretext of being his bodyguards. The other members supported his view. At the same time they took an oath and drafted a resolution that would bring compromise between the Tibetan government and the Panchen Lama. There are many such accounts.

In the Earth-Tiger year, 1938, he was appointed Tsipon, or Finance Minister, but he assumed the office with the title of "acting tsipon" until he received the investiture audience (gsar 'jal) (3) from the Fourteenth Dalai Lama on January 14, 1940, Iron-Dragon year, when the Dalai Lama was installed on the Lion Throne in the Potala Palace. After that, he assumed the actual title of Tsipon.

At a meeting to discuss the rewards to be made to the Regent Reting Rinpoche (Jampal Yeshi Tenpai Gyaltsen), Khendrung Dompoba (Khenrab Wangchuk), Taiji Kyhungrampa (Dhondup Gyalpo), Tsipon Lukhangpa and others at the meeting expressed their views honestly in opposition to other members who said things unbeneficial to the government. (4) As a result, Khendrung Dombopa was demoted to the post of khenche. Taiji Khyungrampa, in connection with a case, was banished to Ruthog in upper Tibet and his family's estate was confiscated. As no excuse was found to punish Tsipon Lukhangpa, he did not receive any punishment. At that time, the following street song became popular in Lhasa:
   The horn of garuda (khyung) is required;
   The bile of beer (dom) is also required;
   If the gem of naga (klu) is obtained,
   The Regent will recover from his illness.

   The horn of khyung has been plucked off;
   The bile of dom has been taken out;
   If you disturb the naga,
   You might get a severe skin disease. (5)


Since the Water-Sheep year, 1943, he served as the accountant during the Autumn Dharma Session of Ganden, Geshe convocation (Tongnon ceremony) and Great Prayer Festival, or the Monlam Chenmo. Since he had to work in the Potala Palace daily during the chilly winter, the low temperature of the room and the effect of the cold floor made him ill, even unable to go to the toilet, for many days.

In the Iron-Tiger year, 1949, when the Chinese Communist forces were invading Tibet from its borders, the drungtsi (6) council convened several meetings to discuss how to tackle the enemy. The council submitted a proposal to the Full National Assembly to deploy the Drongdak Regiment (6) at the border. At that time, he made great efforts to put their proposal on the agenda of the Assembly. In the seventh month of the same year, the Chinese troops penetrated into Tibet and captured Chamdo, the seat of the Governor-General of Kham. The Dalai Lama had to take responsibility for the government urgently, and as appealed by the people of Tibet, the Dalai Lama decided to proceed to Yatung where he would stay for the time being for the safety of his life. He appointed Khenche Lobsang Tashi and Tsipon Lukhangpa as the acting prime ministers to run the government in Lhasa, with great hope in them. Considering his knowledge and experience Lukhangpa was indeed capable of shouldering the responsibility, but being from a poor family background, he was not able to afford rich official costumes and servants. Since it was a time of urgency, he obeyed the instruction. In the eleventh month, with a simple ceremony, he assumed the office of acting prime minister.

Regarding this,My LandandMy People (pp85-16) says:
   At that time, the Kashag convened a national assembly in order to
   know the public's opinion on the dangerous situation. According to
   the suggestion of the assembly, since it was sure that the Chinese
   would attack Lhasa anytime, [it was decided] I must leave for
   Yatung in order to escape from the danger. I did not like the
   suggestion, as I had no mind to go, but [wanted] to remain there
   helping the people, as much as I could. However, the Kashag pressed
   me to go; finally, I listened to their wishes. Many opinions came.
   For example, in my view, I was young and healthy, and wanted to
   share the suffering of the people. Tibetan people regard the life
   of the Dalai Lama as very precious, and they cared about my life,
   more than I did. Therefore, I prepared to go. Before I left, I
   appointed two prime ministers--one was a monk Lobsang Tashi and
   another was the Lukhang, an experienced man who had served the
   government for many years. I gave them full authority and
   instructed them to jointly take the responsibility and to contact
   me only where there are certain urgent matters.


While the Dalai Lama and his entourage were in Yatung, a wild rumor spread that there would be violence in Lhasa, which greatly panicked the people. The two acting ministers calmed down the boiling situation. Regarding this story, the second volume of Shakabpa's Tibet: A Political History of Tibet says:
   With the Dalai Lama away in Yatung and the situation in Kham
   deteriorating day by day, everyone was tremendously frightened that
   some evil people might spread rumors around Lhasa and so cause
   theft, destruction and looting. However, under the leadership of
   the two acting-Prime Ministers, Khenche Lobsang Tashi and Tsipon
   Dekhar, the stewards and police of Lhasa and Shol were directed
   that they must concern themselves with maintaining peace and
   tranquility. A committee of monk and lay government officials
   toured the area at night. It was forbidden to stockpile scarce
   commodities, such as firewood. The Chief Disciplinarian of Drepung,
   who traditionally imposes order during the Greater Prayer Festival,
   was given strict orders not to permit any hoarding of food. These
   measures assured that the peace, resources and especially the
   regional customs and traditions of the area were maintained. All
   people, monks or lay people, of whatever station, felt that Khenche
   Lobsang Tashi and Tsipon Dekharwa, the acting Prime Ministers,
   should be praised for setting the people's minds at rest.


When Shakabpa was leaving Dharamsla for Kalimpong, I requested him to ask Kungo Ngoshi Thupten Samchok, who served as the steward of the two acting-prime ministers, about his experience, and send the information to me. However, at that time Kungo Thupten Samchok had gone to Bhutan, and Shakabpa could not meet him, but he sent me an account about the two acting-prime-ministers narrated to him by Kungo Samchok previously, as below:
   During their two and half years' tenure as acting-prime ministers,
   they met at the Sho home daily, except during the New Year,
   Saturday vacation and ceremonies. They never took sick leave or
   stayed leisurely at home. Whatever the big or small matters, they
   would consult each other and discuss everything thoroughly. Though
   they were very busy with preparing reports to be sent to the Dalai
   Lama who was in Yatung, and dealing with the complicated situation
   caused by the Chinese continuous penetration into Tibet through
   Chamdo, they would attend to all the letters and messages and
   examined them one by one in detail, and would give replies promptly
   for easy action. As for their regular official duties, they would
   perform their duties with due seriousness as if the Dalai Lama were
   present. They would supervise and monitor the offices and staff,
   and investigated and appropriately punished outlaws, though these
   were small in numbers. When Tse Yigtsang office issued an edict on
   environment protection, he checked the draft minutely for spelling
   mistakes, and made corrections with rgya ldis ink. When the Tsede
   staff asked him whether he should rewrite it, he said that the
   edict should be stamped and issued, without rewriting it, because
   when many patriotic and knowledgeable people saw it, they would be
   pleased, thinking that there were people [in the government] who
   were concerned about the political affairs. He used to give such
   meaningful advice.

   When the Chinese army officer Chang Ching-wu arrived in Lhasa for
   the first time, I, the steward, (Ngoshi Thupten Samchok) was sent
   to receive him at Kyitsel Luding. Lukhangpa received Chang at the
   gate of Nangsi Sho home, but he did not show any sign of
   inferiority. They sat on chairs in the sun, and they were served
   with tea and biscuits. After they made their introduction to each
   other, Chang said, "It has been already prepared that a peace
   agreement will be implemented after liberating Tibet, and I hope
   the two acting-prime ministers are happy with this." The two said
   nothing; they just nodded. When Chang said it again, Lukhangpa
   said, "We can talk on this gradually." Chang got angry and his ears
   became red, according to hearsay that time.

   Later, the Chinese officials came to Nangsi Sho home for
   discussion. In the sun, during tea time, in the presence of the
   cabinet members, Chang asked the acting Prime Minister Lobsang
   Tashi, "How much tea do you drink?" He replied, "I drink about ten
   cups of tea in a day." Then Chang asked the same question to the
   acting Prime Minister Lukhangpa, who replied, "I drink more if it
   is tasty; I don't drink it at all if it is not tasty." All those
   who were present there felt that he hinted that he would listen to
   a talk if it were pleasant, and would not listen if it were not
   pleasant. He was thus such a person who would make quick witty
   replies on the spot. Moreover, during meetings between the Chinese
   and Tibetan officials, despite that the Chinese pressured him by
   means of force or peace, he remained concerned mainly about the
   welfare of the Buddhist religion in general, and the government of
   Ganden Phodrang and the people of Tibet in particular, and would
   argue with the Chinese, criticizing their actions, pointing out
   what they had done not mentioned in the agreement or in violation
   of the agreement. The Chinese officials therefore pressured the
   Dalai Lama to remove the two acting-prime ministers from their
   office. The Dalai Lama with great sadness had to ask the two prime
   ministers to resign.

   To speak on minor matters, when the Dalai Lama and his entourage
   arrived in Lhasa from Yatung, the people of Tibet arranged a grand
   welcome reception and a throne for the Dalai Lama. The head of the
   Dopal created a throne, having a pattern of a wheel with a thousand
   spokes. Lukhangpa counted the spokes and found that there were more
   than one thousand spokes. He became very happy with the
   auspiciousness. There are other similar examples. When he sent
   petitions to Yatung, discussing with the China and Tibetan meeting,
   edict, and instruction, the two acting prime ministers would
   discuss thoroughly and then drafted their letters and petitions.
   After making drafts, he would recheck them again and again, until
   they became perfect, without mistakes. Then he would put the
   official stamp, sender's stamp, cover stamp and cover seal, and
   would check if everything was alright.


In 1951, the Chinese forces entered Lhasa and Chinese army officer Chang Ching-wu demanded a large quantity of food grains during a meeting between the Tibetan and Chinese officials. Lukhangpa made bold replies to him, as we find in the My land and My People:
   While conditions were going from bad to worse for the people of
   Lhasa, many Chinese officials were constantly arriving in the city,
   and a long series of meeting was convened by General Chang
   Ching-wu. Members of my Cabinet were requested to attend them, and
   it fell mostly to Lukhangpa, as my lay Prime Minster, to find a
   balance between the essential needs of the people and the requests
   of the invaders. He had the courage to tell the Chinese plainly
   that Tibetans were a humble religious community, whose production
   had always been just sufficient for their own needs. There was a
   very small surplus--perhaps enough to support the Chinese armies
   for another month or two, but no more--and a surplus could not be
   created suddenly. He pointed that there was no possible reason for
   keeping such enormous forces in Lhasa. If they were needed to
   defend the country, they should be sent to the frontiers, and only
   officials with a reasonable escort should remain in the city.

   The Chinese initially responded nicely. General Chang Ching-wu said
   that our government had signed the agreement that Chinese forces
   should be stationed in Tibet, and we were therefore obliged to
   provide them with accommodation and supplies. He said that they had
   only come to help Tibet to develop her resources and to protect her
   against imperialist domination, and that they would go back to
   China as soon as Tibet was able to administer her own affairs and
   protect her own frontiers. "When you can stand on your own feet, we
   will not stay here even if you ask us to" he said. Lukhangpa said,
   "The only people who threatened our frontiers are the Chinese
   themselves, and we have been independently running our own affairs
   for many centuries." At another meeting, he said to Chang, "In
   spite of the Chinese claim that they had come to help Tibet, you
   have done nothing for the benefit of Tibet. On the contrary, the
   very presence of Chinese in Tibet is a problem to us. Whatever the
   Chinese do, they are increasing the anger and resentment of the
   people. One action, though not serious on the surface but important
   to us, is the burning of the bones of dead animals by the Chinese
   in the holy city of Lhasa. This was very offensive to the religious
   feeling of Tibetans, and has caused a great deal of resentment
   among the people."

   But rather than discuss the cause of the people's obvious
   hostility, Chang demanded our government to stop them. He further
   said that people were going about in the street singing songs in
   disparagement of the Chinese, and asked our government to order the
   people to cooperate with the Chinese, and gave Lukangpa a notice
   drafted by the Chinese to announce to the people. When he read it,
   he found it was a ban on the singing of street songs. He rewrote it
   in a somewhat more dignified form. However, that would not have
   appeased the Chinese.


The news that the Tibetan army would be incorporated into the Chinese army spread wildly among the people, increasing their hostile attitude towards the Chinese policies. The My Land and My People says:
   The final confrontation between Lukhangpa and Chinese arose from an
   issue that had nothing to do with Tibet's issue. Chang Ching-wu
   convened a special large meeting and called my two prime ministers
   and the ministers, as well as Chinese civil and military officials.
   At the meeting, Chang said, "The time has come for the Tibetan army
   to be absorbed into the People's Liberation Army. For that, many
   young Tibetan soldiers should be chosen for the training at the
   Chinese army headquarters in Lhasa and they will return to their
   regiment and train their soldiers.

   At this Lukhangwa spoke more strongly than he had before. He said
   that the suggestion was neither necessary nor acceptable. It was
   absurd to refer to the terms of the Seven-point Agreement. Our
   people did not accept the agreement and the Chinese themselves had
   repeatedly broken the terms of it. Their army was still in
   occupation in eastern Tibet, and the area had not been returned to
   the government of Tibet, as it should have been. The attack on
   Tibet was totally unjustifiable as the Chinese forces had entered
   Tibetan areas while the peaceful negotiations were actually going
   on. As for absorbing the Tibetan troops into the PLA, the agreement
   said that the Chinese government would not compel Tibetans to
   accept reforms. The Tibetan people do not like these reforms.

   The Chinese officials said that it was not an important matter, and
   that they didn't find any reason why the Tibetan government should
   object to it. Then he said that the Tibetan flag should be pulled
   down from all Tibetan barracks, and the Chinese flag should be
   hoisted there instead. Lhukangpa said that if Chinese flags were
   hoisted on the barracks, the Tibetan soldiers would pull them down,
   and that would be an embarrassment to the Chinese. In the course of
   argument about the flags, Lukhangpa outright said that it was
   absurd for the Chinese, after violating the integrity of Tibet, to
   ask Tibetans to have friendly relations with them. "If you hit a
   man on his head and break his skull, and his blood is still there,
   you can hardly expect him to be friendly." The Chinese became very
   angry. They closed the meeting and decided to hold another meeting
   three days later.

   When the representative met again, another Chinese army officer Fan
   Ming asked Lukhangwa, "Didn't you make mistakes in your statement
   last time?" expecting him to apologize to them. Lukhangpa, instead
   of changing his stand, said, "It is my duty to explain these things
   frankly. The rumor has panicked the people and if the Chinese
   proposals about the Tibetan army were accepted, not only the
   troops, but even the public will react violently.

   At this reply, Fan Ming lost his temper, and accused Lukhangpa of
   having clandestine relations with foreign imperialist powers, and
   shouted that he would request the Dalai Lama to dismiss him from
   his office. Lukhangpa said, "If the Dalai Lama found I was wrong, I
   will even give up not only my job, but even my life. There is no
   need for the Chinese to order us and I will never obey the Chinese
   orders. Chang Ching-wu intervened and said, "What Fan Ming said
   just now was slightly wrong. You should not take this seriously."
   The meeting ended without any agreement.

   Though Chang made the soothing intervention, I receive a written
   report soon after this meeting, in which the Chinese insisted that
   Lukhangpa did not want to improve relations between Tibetans and
   Chinese, and suggested that he should be removed from the office.
   They made the same demand to the cabinet. The Kashag suggested to
   me that it would be better if the two acting prime ministers were
   asked to resign. Since the issue had reached its peak, I was faced
   with a very difficult decision. I greatly admired Lukhangpa's
   courage in standing up to the Chinese, but now I had to decide
   whether to let him continue, or to let him resign from the office
   as demanded by the Chinese. There were two considerations:
   Lukhangpa' personal safety and the future of the country as whole.
   On the first, Lukhangpa himself had already put his life in danger
   and it was clear that even if I let him continue with his duty, the
   Chinese would remove him through various means.


Lukhangpa used to say, "The enemy of a ruler is his retinue who flatters him." Similarly, in practical terms, regardless of the Chinese threat, he openly made verbal challenge to the Chinese officials many times. He often said that being a civil servant he had no hesitation to sacrifice his life for the sake of the country. When Chinese army officers, including Chang Ching-wu and Chang Kuoha approached him at his residence and discussed with him political issues, he would stand firm on the main points and made efforts not to get caught in their trap. He never took even a single item of money from the Chinese.

In the Water-Dragon year, 1952, the Dalai Lama, left with no other options, asked the two acting-prime ministers to resign from their posts. Regarding this, My land and My People (p.104, na3) says,
   As per the recommendation of the Cabinet, I sadly, asked the two
   acting-prime minster to resign. They came to me, and I gave them
   scarves, photos and material gifts. I was sure that they knew my
   position. I did not appoint their successors, as it was useless if
   they became the scapegoats of the Chinese. I thought that it was
   better if I take over the responsibilities, because it would be
   nicer to the eyes of the people. After that, Lukhangpa went to
   India and became my Prime Minister. At present, he has retired from
   his post on account of his advanced age. He is sill serving as an
   adviser to me.


In the Shakapba's Tibet: A Political History of Tibet, vol2, p.543, it is said:
   On Thursday, the 17th day of the second month of the Earth-Pig year
   (1959), 933 Rabjung cycle, the exile Tibetan government was
   inaugurated at the Yulgyal Lhunpo Tse Place, and mounted couriers
   were sent to different districts of Tibet to proclaim the edict.
   The ex-acting prime ministers Lobsang Tashi and Dekharwa were
   appointed Prime Ministers and a separate edict was sent to them.


Lukhangpa was a noble man, who would speak out for the government at the risk of his life. For instance, recently Lhalu Tsewang Dorje said in his article "PLA troops permanently camped in Lhasa", which appeared in the first issue of the Selected Research Materials on Tibetan Culture and History (bod kyi rig gnas rgyu cha bdam sgrigs) published by Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR):
   When the Chinese and Tibetan officials met to discuss the Chinese
   demand for more grains for the PLA troops, Lukhangpa said, "We
   Tibetan people have not enough grains for ourselves, we cannot
   afford to supply more such grains to the Chinese." He remarked, "It
   is more painful to remain hungry than to lose a war." Later, at a
   meeting between the Chinese officials such as Tan Guansan and Chang
   Kuoha and Tibetan officials such including cabinet members and
   prime ministers, Chang said, "There are many colonels and captains
   without works. It will be good to arrange a training and source of
   livelihood for them." Lukhangpa replied, "It is not possible for
   them to go for a training, because, there is a Tibetan saying, 'If
   your head is hurt by a gold image, it is no blessing; if you are
   humiliated by your relatives, you should not feel happy.' In
   Chamdo, our heads have been wounded and the blood has not dried
   yet, so how can they go for training? Rather than this, first you
   should return Chamdo to us."


As seen here, he was such a person who would speak straight to the Chinese face to face. After his resignation, he stayed at his residence. Whenever he heard different news about Tibet's political affairs, he would become unhappy and worried. Below is an account of Lukhangpa as narrated by Shakabpa from his memory:
   In 1956, on the occasion of the 2500th parinirvana of Lord Buddha,
   after obtaining permission from the Dalai Lama, Lukhangpa, along
   with his wife and children, went to India on pilgrimage. When he
   arrived in Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, he sought an
   audience with the Dalai Lama at the royal palace of Sikkim. He told
   the Dalai Lama that since there was great tension between the
   Chinese and Tibetans in Kham and U-Tsang, it would better for the
   Dalai Lama to remain in India for the time being. When the Dalai
   Lama and his entourage left Gangtok for Lhasa, he went on a
   pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Vulture Peak Hill, Nalanda,
   Kushanangar (rtsa mchog grong), Lumbini, among others, and then
   stayed at Kalimpong for a while. The Dalai Lama's elder brother
   Gyalo Thondup, Khenchung Lobsang Gyaltsen and I, Shakabpa, three
   tsedrung officials who arrived from Lhasa on official mission
   (Jampa Wangdu, Jampa Tsondu and Thupten Nyinje) and representatives
   from the three provinces of Tibet had started a Tibetan freedom
   movement, and our activities included making petitions to the
   member countries of the UN about China's repressive actions in
   Tibet in violation of the "Seventeen-Point Agreement" and their
   forceful reforms being carried out in Dome region. We requested
   Lukhangpa to become our leader, but he refused to hold the title of
   leader and told us that we could approach him for advice on
   important matters. We arranged a room for him. When the Dalai
   Lama's birthday celebration was initiated for the first time, he
   attended the ceremony as the chief guest. (The Fourteenth Dalai
   Lama's birthday was first celebrated in 1957 in Kalimpong).

   In the Fire-Bird year, 1957, he suffered from a severe kidney
   disease (mkhal grang). He was brought to Calcutta and was admitted
   into Hariton Nursing Home, where he was treated by a famous German
   doctor named Dr. Handal. After two months he regained his health.
   During his stay in Calcutta, he met with BC Rowell, the governor of
   West Bengal, and requested his support for Tibet. After that, he
   returned to Kalimpong and resided there.

   In the Earth-Dog year, 1958, as the Chinese escalated their
   forceful reforms and repressive actions in Tibet [further] with
   each passing day, people from Doto became unable to live in their
   places. Many men from Doto, carrying weapons, ran away onto the
   mountains and forests and exercised guerrilla warfare against the
   Chinese. Many old people and children arrived in U-Tsang. From
   Doto, Dome and U-Tsang, many volunteer freedom fighters emerged and
   organized resistance war against the Chinese to safeguard the
   Dharma and polity of Tibet. The Tibetan Welfare Association in
   India also, just like "rains increases water", supported them at
   their best level. The Association also sent petitions to the
   governments of all the countries of the world requesting them to
   support the truthful Tibetan cause, and called the attention of all
   the new members and organizations to the ongoing Chinese military
   oppression in Tibet in violation of the 17-Point Agreement.

   In the Earth-Pig year, 1959, immediately after hearing the news of
   turmoil in Lhasa through the Political Officer of Sikkim, Khendrung
   and Tsepon initiated a telegram campaign. Led by Acting-Prime
   Minster Lukhangpa, all the Tibetans, lay and ordained, residing in
   Sikkim, sent hundreds of telegrams to Prime Minister Nehru,
   requesting his urgent support to Tibet. Led by Lukhangpa and
   Yuthogpa, some 300 Tibetans, including all the government officials
   and representatives arrived from Tibet, Tibetan organizations and
   Tibetan residents of Kalimpong and Darjeeling, went to Delhi and
   approached the Indian Vice-President Dr. Radhakrishanan, Prime
   Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Interior Minister Pandit Pant, the
   Congress Party's President Mrs. Indra Gandhi, and Foreign Secretary
   Dutt, among others, to pressure the Chinese to stop causing danger
   to the life of the Dalai Lama and stop military oppression in
   Lhasa, and to help Tibetans maintain Tibet's independence. Ladakh's
   prince Bhakula Rinpoche helped them in their campaign.

   Lukhangpa was in advanced age and his health was not good. In spite
   of that, he painstakingly attended all the meetings of newly
   appointed members of the Association and large public gatherings,
   and gave detail explanations on the situation that could incite the
   public's courage. At that time, the front pages of many newspapers
   in Delhi carried news about the Chinese attacks on Norbulingka,
   Potala and Lhasa city and the Dalai Lama was missing. One day, a
   newspaper carried news that the Dalai Lama fell down from a horse
   and was injured when he was making an escape journey. This
   terrified all the Tibetans in India; some died, others collapsed
   into unconsciousness or became mentally unstable.

   Several of our representatives went to the Marina Hotel in New
   Delhi on April 3, to meet with Prime Minister Lhukhangpa to discuss
   about the best solution. At 10 in the morning while the meeting was
   underway, I received a call from Mr. Masani, the leader of the
   Swatantra Party informing me "Prime Minister Nehru has just
   announced at the Lok Sabha, that he has received a request for
   asylum from the Dalai Lama on March 29. As permission has been
   granted, the Dalai Lama has already reached the Indian border at
   Chudangmo on the March 31. The Indian government has decided to
   receive him and his entourage as guests and all the necessary
   arrangements would be made by the government." I immediately went
   to Lukhangpa to give him the news; at that time, he was reading a
   prayer book. As soon as he heard the news, he held the book in his
   hands, stood up and shouted, " Tashi Delek!" At the same time he
   walked around several times. We immediately passed along the news
   to all the members of our organization who were in Delhi. He
   suggested that we should return to Kalimpong and Darjeeling by
   train that very night to arrange the welcome reception for the
   Dalai Lama. On the day of our arrival in Kalimpong, we planned to
   receive the Dalai Lama at Gangjal, and went to obtain permission
   from the Governor of Sikkim to go to the border. Gyalo Thondup got
   permission to go to Bomdila and ActingPrime Minster Lukhangpa and
   Deputy Cabinet Minister Yuthog to Tezpur, and they went
   accordingly.

   When the Dalai Lama arrived safely in Mussoorie (in Dehradun), all
   the government officials residing in Kalimpong, led by Sitsab
   Lukhangpa and Katsab Yuthok, were summoned to Mussoorie. At that
   time we briefed the Dalai Lama about the activities carried out so
   far by Chen-khen-tsi-sum (gcen-mkhan-rtsis-gsum: Gyalo Thondup,
   Khenchung Lobsang Gyaltsen and Tsipon Shakabpa), three tsedrung
   officials who arrived in India from Tibet on official purposes, and
   the representatives of the three provinces of Tibet who also
   arrived in India. We further told him that we would like to disband
   our organization and that we would work under the leadership of the
   Dalai Lama. We also told this to the ministers. At that time,
   temporary duties were assigned to all of us. Lukhangpa was
   appointed acting-prime minister, but he refused on the ground of
   his advanced age but sought the privilege to attend any official
   ceremonies and important meetings of the government; the request
   was granted.

   His family moved from Kalimpong to Dharamsala. In the close of
   1960, he spent a few months in Simla to perform prayers. He was
   later called to Dharamsala by the Dalai Lama, where he resided at
   Gangchen Kyishong.

   From October 1965, Lukhangpa's health broke down. In early
   November, along with his wife and daughters, he arrived in Delhi
   and stayed at Ladakh Dharamsala (Buddhavihar). For the benefit of
   his health and hygiene, a room was arranged at Tibetan Bureau
   Office (in Delhi). His illness deteriorated and he was taken to
   Holy Family Hospital and admitted into a special ward. After that,
   his health slightly improved. His wife and we all the staff members
   visited him often, while his daughter Jampa stayed with him to care
   him. Through the Private Office, reports were sent to the Dalai
   Lama, who sent Kundeling (dza sag od zer rgyal mtshan), the
   minister for the Department of Religion, to meet him. The Dalai
   Lama sent to him blessing pills and a message that all the medical
   expenses would be paid by the Tibetan Bureau Office. After a month
   of treatment in the hospital, his health improved slightly. He
   insisted on leaving the hospital, saying that he would not stay too
   long in the hospital at the cost of the government. In January
   1966, he was brought to the Bureau Office and doctors were called
   in for regular check ups.

   On February 21, 1966, the Fire-Tiger year, the first day of the
   Tibetan New Year, in our best clothes, we (all the staffs of
   Tibetan Bureau Office and the Tibet House in Delhi) went to offer
   him the greetings and scarves. On 23 February, the third day of the
   Tibetan New Year, he offered us tea and snacks. Next day, at 4
   o'clock in the next morning, just like a lamp whose oil has
   finished, he breathed his last. We telephoned the Private Office in
   Dharamsala to request the Dalai Lama's prayers and dedication
   offerings to the dying soul. Telegrams were sent to Yongzin Trichen
   Ling Rinpoche (Thupten Lungtok Namgyal Trinle) in Bodh Gaya and
   Kyabje Yongzin Trijang Rinpoche (Lobsang Yeshi Tenzin Gyatso) at
   Sarnath for dedication prayers for the departing soul. Nechung
   Rinpoche was invited to conduct the ritual of oral pho ba
   transference. Nechung Rinpoche, Tarab Rinpoche, Jongtse Rinpoche
   and Karam Kyorpon stayed there and performed daily rituals. His
   daughter Seymo Lhundup (lhun grub dbang mo) Wangmo was informed by
   telephone, and she arrived at the Bureau Office shortly. As per the
   astrological calculation result, the body was brought by means of
   palanquin and cremated at 6 o'clock that evening. All the staffs of
   the Tibetan Bureau Office and Tibet House, and local Tibetans of
   Delhi attended the cremation to pay homage and prayers. His wife
   (Thupten Wangmo, thub bstan dbang mo) did all the remaining
   arrangements.

   Prime Minister Lukhangpa was a great veteran who served under two
   successive Dalai Lamas with great dedication. In his youth, he
   studied traditional Tibetan fields of study under Khunu Lama Tenzin
   Gyaltsen, Jampel Lhundup Rinpoche of Dakpo Bangrim Monastery and
   Chamdo Dzato Tsenyi Rinpoche, among other teachers. He would
   utilize his spare time in reciting prayers, performing meditation,
   writing official letters and reading, especially the epic of Gesar,
   which is his favorite. Whatever he did, big or small, he would
   think and act for the benefit of the government and people of
   Tibet.

   He had great deference to the Tibetan culture and customs. For
   example, except his official costumes, he always wore snam bu or
   'bu ras clothes (8). He would always wear woolen trousers and cotton
   or 'bu ras tops and traditional Tibetan shoes. His house was not
   luxurious--the furniture, facilities and kitchen stuffs in his
   house were simple. He did not have much liking of western clothes.
   He devoted his whole life in the service for his country and
   people, and his contributions should never be forgotten.


Trans. Yeshi Dhondup

Translator's notes

(1.) Zhwa sgab pa dbang phyug bde ldan (1907-1989) was the finance minister from 1939 to 1951. In 1948, the Cabinet (Kashag) sent a Tibetan delegation driven by Tsipon W. D. Shakabpa, minister of the finances of Tibet, in particular in the United States for commercial negotiations. In addition, Tsipon Shakapa received a visa on his passport in 1947 for commercial exchanges, and he went in China, India, England, USA, Italy, Switzerland and France. According to the Tibetan Government in Exile, this passport illustrates that Tibet was an independent country.

When the PLA entered Tibet in 1951, Shakabpa moved to India where, until 1966, he was the principal representative of the 14th Dalai Llama in New Delhi.

(2.) In the traditional Tibetan government, the monk official segment is called tsekor (rtse skor) and the lay official segment is called shokor (shod skor).

(3.) A ceremony for officials when they first enter government service or when they get appointed to top positions that involve an audience with the Dalai Lama (or Regent).

(4.) The meeting was about offering rewards to the Reting Rinpoche for successfully discovering the true reincarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. Some members at the meeting proposed to give excessive rewards to the Regent, which was unacceptable to Lukhangpa and other members.

(5.) khyung gi rwa co dgos kyis//

dom gyi mkhris pa dgos kyis//

klu yi nor bu byung na//

rgyal po'i snyung gzhi dwangs pa//

khyung gi rwa co bcags song//

dom gyis mkhris pa'ng bton song//

klu la phog thug btang na//

nad ngan shu thor don yong//

This is a satirical song. Khyung refers to Khyungrampa, dom refers to Dompoba and klu refers to Lukhangpa.

(6.) drungtsi (drung rtis) is a acronym for drungyig chenmo (drung yig chen mo) and tsepon (rtsis dpon). The drungtsi committee consists of eight members--four heads of the drungyig chenmo office and four heads of the Finance Office

(7.) Drongdak Regiment (grong drag dmag sgar), or the "Regiment of Well-off Families" was established by Kunphen-la, a favoured attendant of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, by collecting sons from amongst noble families.

(8.) snam bu is a fabric made of wool and 'bu ras is a silk cloth
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Article Details
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Author:Namgyal, Dekhar Trinle
Publication:The Tibet Journal
Article Type:Biography
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jun 22, 2009
Words:7374
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