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Tibet Web Digest http://tibetwebdigest.com Presenting English-language translations of writings in Tibetan and Chinese from websites in Tibet and China Tue, 13 Oct 2015 16:40:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I’m Not Happy http://tibetwebdigest.com/im-not-happy/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/im-not-happy/#comments Mon, 21 Sep 2015 19:00:15 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1359 Namchak


Namchak (literally ‘Sky Metal’) is the oldest and the most famous Tibetan rock band. They have released three albums. The band members are: Tenzin Dawa, Sonam Nyandak, Phurbu Nyudup, Tashi Phuntsok, Sonam Tenzin and Sonam Nyima. The band members write and perform their own music, and they are especially popular among the younger generation.

In general, “Namchak” is translated as “Vajra”, which is a religious device that tantric masters use when they perform rituals. There is an interesting story about “Namchak” in Tibetan oral literature. Many Tibetans (religious Tibetans) believed that there was a dragon in the sky. Every time the dragon thundered, there would be lightning. In the spot where the lightning hit, people sometimes found a metal which they called “Namchak:” metal from the sky. The shape of that metal is said to resemble a “Dorjee” which is the Tibetan name for the “Vajra.”

I’m Not Happy

Singer: Namchak band
Composer: Namchak band
Lyricist: Namchak band

I’m not happy, my friend
I’m really not happy, friend
Let’s get together in a bar
Drink a cold beer
Life, meaning, future, hope
Pour them in a beer and drink it up

Don’t say you love me, girl
I have many scars on my heart, girl
I am powerless, poor
No protectors, no power, I am just a humble office boy

I want to go far away tomorrow
Far far away
To the land in my dreams, this beautiful dreamland
I want to borrow the gray eagle’s wings and fly away to this land
I want to borrow the gray eagle’s wings and fly away to this land

From today I know everything
I can’t spend my time like this
To realize my vision, my hope
I must keep my courage always
The land in my dreams, this beautiful dreamland
I want to borrow the gray eagle’s wings and fly away to this land

I’m not the gray eagle
I’m not the small nightingale
I’m not the gray eagle
I’m not the small nightingale
I have no wings, no singing voice and no regrets
I’m not happy, friend
I’m really not happy, friend
Let’s get together in a bar
Drink a cold beer
Life, meaning, future, hope
Pour them in a beer and drink it up
Now I’m happy, my friend

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IY570o336I

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Milarepa http://tibetwebdigest.com/milarepa/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/milarepa/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 04:53:14 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1350 Melaripa

Milarepa is the 11th century Tibetan saint who is revered for having attained enlightenment in one lifetime. He left behind a rich tradition of mgur, spontaneous songs of realization that are also religious poems.

Milarepa

Singer: Jamyang Gyatso
Composer: Yonten Gyatso
Lyricist: Jigme Nubpa

You saved your father’s wealth in your mind
Kept your mother’s words in your heart
You wore your pilgrim’s progress on your body
You woke the Yarlung of Samadhi from its sleep
The yogi from Mangyul Gungthang
Whose name was Milarepa
Who left his footprint in the rock
Who touched the rock with his forehead

Milarepa, Milarepa

You gave up the mundane world, the mundane wife
You embraced the practice of dharma
Sowed the essence of samsara
Your songs roused the plateau from its sleep
The mgur singer from Mangyul Gungthang
Whose name was Milarepa
Who widened our narrow footpath
Who walked that narrow footpath
Milarepa, Milarepa
The mgur singer from Mangyul Gungthang
Whose name was Milarepa
Who opened our narrow footpath
Who walked that narrow footpath

Milarepa, Milarepa, Milarepa
Milarepa, Milarepa, Milarepa

Original link: http://music.tibet3.com/music/playlist/2015-06-23/214.html

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A Special Feeling http://tibetwebdigest.com/a-special-feeling/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/a-special-feeling/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 20:46:57 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1340 Gedun Lhundup

Rongwo Gedun Lhundup is a well known poet for his free verse. Born in Amdo, he studied Buddhism as a monk in Rongwo, Labrang and Serta Monasteries. He has published five books of poetry. They are “The Sound of the Yak and the Wild Yak”; “The Poem of the Great Deity”; “The Black Rosary”; “The Melody of Life” and “The White Volume” (གླེགས་བམ་དཀར་པོ). He blogs on Tsanpo, Gedun Chophel and Tso Ngonpo.

A Special Feeling
By Rongwo Gedun Lhundup

I am special,
I am a monk who only writes poetry.
In the heart of the mirror of my poem’s
Inside and outside walls,

I wrote about the snow mountains of the Himalayas
And I wrote even about the Lhasa almost left behind by the sun’s rays.
Up to now, when I think of it,
The beauty of life which has burnt and almost melted
Has stuck in my throat.
But I feel that the poem has released it.

(Translated by Dhondup Tashi Rekjong)

Original link:http://blog.amdotibet.cn/lmgo/index.aspx

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How contemporary Tibet might have been seen by a Tang dynasty historian http://tibetwebdigest.com/contemporary-tibetan-history-as-written-by-tang-dynasty-writers/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/contemporary-tibetan-history-as-written-by-tang-dynasty-writers/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 22:29:40 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1322 Gurgon Kyab

Gurgon Kyab was born in Chentsa in Amdo, Tibet, part of Qinghai province. He is a historian, writer and scholar. He graduated with a Master’s degree in History from Qinghai Nationalities University in Xining in 2004. He compiled a Tibetan language text book in 2008 for university students and has published two books since then – “The Literary Tradition” (རྩོམ་རིག་གཞུང་ལུགས) in 2010 and “The Loan of Gratitude” (དྲིན་གྱི་བུ་ལོན), a commentary on Gedun Choephel’s famous history “The White Annals”, in 2011. He blogs on Tsenpo and Samsara.

Gedun Choephel’s observation that more foreigners have written about our customs, lifestyle, and behavior than our own people is true. In the account of Tibet written during the Tang dynasty, it is stated that, “Warriors are well respected. Sons respect their fathers and mothers respect their sons. Men are never far from their knives, bows and arrows. Younger ones take the lead and older ones follow them on the roads. In general, the younger men get more respect than the older men. If a man dies naturally, it is considered bad, and if he dies in battle he is considered a hero. If many people from a single family get killed on the battlefield, their armor will be hung up on the door and the family will be very proud.”(1)

When you read such historical accounts, you might be surprised that such were the customs of our ancestors.

However, if those Tang Dynasty writers had not passed away and were to visit present-day Tibet, I am certain that this is what they would write:

There is a nation called Tibet in the west. They are honest and easily manipulated by others to become their servants. Among their own group, they are not very honest and do not trust each other. Their king is a monk, who has lost his country and left for exile, but his countrymen still have unbreakable faith in him. They have letters, but they don’t use them well. They have many Buddhist schools and disputes between them occur consistently. They love precious stones, gold, silver and so on. Even though they have good resources of gold in their country, they prefer buying ornaments from others by paying a high price for them. They have livestock, but they don’t sell or slaughter them. In addition, eating meat is not considered virtuous and there are few people who break the law of virtue and eat meat secretly. They have various local laws and if men break the law, they are punished by being dressed in women’s clothes and getting sent out to prostrate in their bare feet for long distances.

They don’t learn any skills or crafts in order to earn their livelihood. Instead they pick caterpillar fungus, a worm during the winter which becomes a fungus in the summer. It fetches a good price and picking caterpillar fungus for one month easily covers their expenses for a year.

Someone who leaves home from a very young age for a monastery to study Buddhism is called a monk. These monks can’t keep a family or a wife. The head of these monks is a lama who can himself keep a wife or girlfriend as he wants. People call this wife or girlfriend a “consort” or a “secret wife” with great respect. The high status of the lama is not only unchanging for his whole life, but also for his future lives. He is forever the lama of this monastery. If a monk does anything against his wishes, this monk will be expelled from the monastery and live a cursed life.

Most of the people love to speak about the law of karma. It is something that has become a habit. But in reality, no one cares about it. Older generations genuinely respect their own vows or pledges, but now people don’t take them seriously and take pledges as if they were eating tsampa. Young people take one vow after almost every word they speak. If there are some brave-hearted men among them, these malicious cowards start criticizing and accusing them until they become totally silent. The youth are brave, but the elders intimidate them and gradually tame them.

Nomads leave their grassland and farmers move to the city. After a few years, it is quite normal for them to have turned into Chinese people.

They are compassionate towards outsiders, and beggars from outside beg by reciting mani mantras at the gathering places. If the beggars can’t recite mantras, it is enough for them just to show their thumbs. They are good at memorizing things, but they also forget things easily.

These things above might be written in the annals by today’s Tang Dynasty writers. If the following generations were to read these lines a thousand years later, do you think they might say, “Were our ancestors really so strange?”

1) Gedun Chophel’s White Annals

The link to the original article in Tibetan is at http://www.tsanpo.com/forum/11611.html

(Translated by Dhondup Tashi Rekjong)

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Is Nationalism a Good Thing? http://tibetwebdigest.com/is-nationalism-a-good-thing/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/is-nationalism-a-good-thing/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 17:01:14 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1303 Shokjang

Shokjang is a leading intellectual of his generation. He was born in Labrang in Amdo. He studied Tibetan literature at the Northwest Nationalities University in Lanzhou. He has published four books: The Courage of the Path (ལམ་གྱི་སྙིང་སྟོབས།); The Pen’s Strength (སྙུ་གུའི་སྟོབས།); For Freedom I Have No Regrets (རང་དབང་གི་དོན་དུ། ང་ལ་བློ་འགྱོད་མེད་།); and The Courage of Rangdrol (རང་གྲོལ་སྙིང་སྟོབས།). He writes on Tsenpo and Samsara. In the following piece, posted on Samsara in May 2014, he makes a very strong defense for the individual’s right and freedom.

Is Nationalism a Good Thing?

By Shokjang

Over these last many years, the nationalism of the Tibetan people has greatly increased. Every Tibetan, young and old, talks about nationalism a lot. The Tibetan people’s nationalism is now at an apogee. But no one talks about the advantages and disadvantages of the concept of nationalism, which is not really normal. Up till now this is how we have talked about the concept of Tibetan nationalism—all our talk about the Tibetan empire is an example of this. Although many Tibetans don’t know that that’s what they are doing, praising and speaking of the political power and administration of the Tibetan empire is an expression of nationalism, not an expression of individualism. The flag of nationalism flies so high that it has sadly become an enemy of individualism.

In general, even with nationalism, a more liberal kind of nationalism has been introduced but since the beginning of our discourse we have unfortunately only given a very general introduction to this. This is not good. Because of this, if anyone says that an individual’s right is more important than a people’s right, other people have no hesitation in calling that person a spy or a traitor and putting various hats on this person. A hat is a hat, and we are used to wearing these hats. However, some bad people with long arms will stamp your forehead and even threaten your life. So how do we face such a sad scenario? The heart of nationalism is a people’s right to self-determination. This is a right that all people have in common. Our people too cannot avoid this path. If we say that we don’t want even this, then we will have only a slave’s life left to us. What kind of political system you choose or what nationality and territory you choose to belong to is your own choice.

No one should force or control that choice. You may say that you do not want self-determination but you must know that it’s no different from saying you want to be a slave or a serf.

In fighting for this right, if you encourage others to do bad things, then I have no support for this. For instance, in the name of Tibetan unity, if a person says something different from the cherished conventional wisdom, he gets criticism and abuse from both inside and outside. This is very sad. Every person has an individual right to freedom and you cannot use “nationalism” as an excuse to injure someone else’s freedom.

Such behavior is called extreme nationalism. Others will not accept this. Such extreme nationalism swept the world like a wave during World World II, resulting in Hitler’s massacres and Japan’s massacres. These violent actions that terrify and distress people, these are the crimes of these extreme nationalists. There is no doubt that people who follow these paths will use their abilities to abuse other people.

These extremists fly the flag of nationalism and, whether intentionally or unintentionally, destroy individual freedom. In their eyes, there is nothing more important than the nation’s survival and freedom. For national survival, they will spend people’s lives. In these recent years, about one hundred and thirty five people have self-immolated for the nation’s right of survival. These people have selflessly sacrificed their lives for their people’s freedom. This is a great sacrifice. But there are things we have to think about. Can we say that we haven’t encouraged their sacrifice? I don’t want to taste any freedom that other people have paid for with their lives and their blood. Some talkative people will say that it is hard to find freedom without losing some lives over it. This is a very extreme way of talking and we shouldn’t accept this. Where the idea of nationalism spreads, there individual right and freedom will be endangered. In recent years, when the news spread online that the Tibetan singer Yangchuk Tso and the Panchen Rinpoche’s daughter had both married Chinese spouses, many people were disappointed and there was a lot of criticism. Deciding whom one should marry is a fundamental individual right and it is a measure of tyranny to injure this right. Would these people have been able to look Panchen Rinpoche in the face and say it was wrong that he married a Chinese? If the Panchen Rinpoche and the Jamyang Shepa can marry a Chinese spouse, then an ordinary person can indeed do so. Another thing is that it has become common for Tibetans living outside to marry foreigners. What do you say to that? Surely we do not assimilate only by marrying Chinese. I am absolutely against those who carry the flag of nationalism to deny and destroy individual right.

If we cannot protect individual freedom, then I wouldn’t like it even if we could implement actual autonomy. I would make every effort to criticize and pull the mistakes up by their roots.

(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi and Dhondup Tashi Rekjong)

Original link: http://www.korawa.com/index.php?c=content&a=show&id=37

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Shut Your Dog’s Mouth http://tibetwebdigest.com/shut-your-dogs-mouth/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/shut-your-dogs-mouth/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 07:12:00 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1295 Chen

Chen Metak (གཅན་མེ་སྟག) is a very well-known Tibetan writer from Amdo. The poem “Shut Your Dog’s Mouth” is a sarcastic poem written to criticize a certain unnamed person. It was published in December 2014 on Chodmey (Butter Lamp) online journal, one of the most popular online journals. We have translated the first part of the poem.

Shut Your Dog’s Mouth

Chen Metak

A Lion Was Born to A Dog

That morning
Out of terror
My hair fell off strand by strand
I put on my head a tattered straw hat
And ran in the bazaar of this trashy universe
I said to the customers from north and south
I said to the scholar Gedun Chopel
Last night my family’s bitch gave
Birth to a black haired lion
A lion not from the snow mountains
Nor from the dark forests
A lion that barked like a dog from its birth
Saying it wanted to go among its own kind of carnivore

Now I wear the straw hat
And argue with other people
As I pick up trash
I want to build him a nice comfortable home
But there’s no hope
I have no idea to what tribe
This lion belongs

(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi & Dhondup Tashi Rekjong)

Original link: http://www.tibetcm.com/specialist/canmedak/2014-12-16/7284.html

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An Old Thangka http://tibetwebdigest.com/an-old-thangka/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/an-old-thangka/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 19:53:57 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1291 Shoklong

Thopa Rangdrol writes under the pen name Shoklung (Morning Wind). He was born in Amdo Golok in the 1980s. He has studied at Serta Monastry and Rongwo monastery in Tibet. His writings were published on several Tibetan magazines including the “Nationalities Literary Magazine”. He has published a book called “The Dream of An Education” in 2009.

An Old Thangka

By Shoklung (Morning Wind)

In this old black tent,

lives this dusty old Thangka,

bought from the Lhasa barkhor

when both the Gyelwa and Panchen(1)

still lived in Tibet.

The figure on the Thangka,

that of Chenrezig.

Even though the painting is old,

its blessings have not vanished.

It is worth a thousand statues.

In the hearts of my white-haired,

mani-saying parents,

this Thangka is their Lhasa Jowo(2),

this Thangka their Gyelwa, their Panchen.

Note:

1) His Holiness the Dalai lama and Panchen Lama

2) Jowo Shakyamuni

(Translated by Dhondup Tashi Rekjong)

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Dear Bureau Chief, don’t block our way http://tibetwebdigest.com/dear-bureau-chief-dont-block-our-way/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/dear-bureau-chief-dont-block-our-way/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 18:44:23 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1281 Tibetans have been debating about Tibetan Language preservation for a while. Fortunately, in recent years, these debates have turned into a movement or protests led by Tibetans students in Tibet, in places as Amdo Rebkong and Chabcha. A few months back, Tibetans on WeChat were criticizing two local Chinese chiefs of the education bureau in Tibet. They are Tan Ke, the Chief of Ngaba (Aba) Prefecture Education Bureau and Han Tin Bhu, the Chief of Ganlho Prefecture Education Bureau.

Tibetans online were saying that these two Chiefs insulted the Tibetan language and talked about the lack of future for people studying the Tibetan language.

For instance, Tan Ke said on 29th of October:

“These days when students are taking their final exams, if their Chinese language is good, then they have a lot of advantage and they can get into the top schools in the mainland. If they have prioritized Tibetan language, then their Chinese marks are very low and they can’t even get into an ordinary university. Therefore, it is better to teach everything in Chinese in Ngawa . If they study Tibetan, it’s less useful in future and it also doesn’t help to improve education in the nomadic areas.”

Here is a piece of what Chief Han Tin Bhu said:

“If you prioritize Chinese language in school, then your future will be bright. If you prioritize Tibetan language, your future will be limited. An educational system that prioritizes Tibetan is a dangerous educational system.”

Tibetans on WeChat were sharing the photos of these two chiefs. Tibetans were also sharing a cartoon in which these two representatives of the county education bureau and the prefecture education bureau were holding a giant scissor and a hammer and smashing and cutting up the letters of the Tibetan alphabet.
Cartoon

In addition, one Tibetan writer who calls himself Black Light wrote a letter to bureau chief Tan Ke in Chinese and Thai Dakpa has translated it into English. Here is the letter below:

Dear Bureau Chief, don’t block our way
By Woenak
Translated by Thai Dakpa

1)
Dear Bureau Chief, let me ask a question first: how do you know there won’t be a career for those who learn Tibetan? Is is that the Chinese government plans to eradicate Tibetan language in future? You are a government official, so you may know lots of things that we the general people are not aware of.

2)
Dear Bureau Chief, as Chinese language is more popular than Tibetan language, so English is more popular than Chinese. Have you abandoned Chinese and started embracing English? When does China plan to abandon the less popular Chinese language and embrace the more popular English language as the official language? If you have such a proposal, maybe we should learn English together?

3)
Dear Bureau Chief, Tibetan language has not automatically become a useless language, but it is made so with so many measures and methods. So, if you want to give more of such speeches, please specify what you mean.

4)
Dear Bureau Chief, one of the greatest communist leaders Joseph Stalin said that if you want to destroy a nationality, you first have to destroy their language. You may or may not have heard of these words,but you have to accept that this is what Joseph Stalin said. As such, your advocacy of Tibetan language being useless for career security is the first step towards this direction. Can a petty official like you take responsibility for this?

5)
Dear Bureau Chief, any language of whatever nationality is not only meant for keeping your stomach full or getting you promoted. For a nationality that is on the verge of disappearing, her language is the only place where her culture can breathe. One’s culture is one’s inner ideology and outer behavior, so what you are asking the Tibetan people is to leave the motherland of our inner ideology and outer behavior. This might be easy for you to say, but it is too hard for us to do.

6)
Dear Bureau Chief, any heritage, let it be small or big, of Tibetan language and Tibetan culture is a part of the treasure of human civilization. Our ancestors passed on this heritage for thousands of years with their blood and sweat. This is also the best gift we Tibetans present to humankind. So, please don’t block our way to preserve it.
This is dedicated to Tibetan students who are protesting against the speech given by Tan Ke, the Chief of Ngawa(Aba) Prefecture Education Bureau.

What does it mean that, although it has been a long time since the Chinese government changed all the textbooks from Tibetan into Chinese in many areas of Tibet, Tibetans and Tibetan students are still putting in so much effort towards preserving the Tibetan language and fighting for their language rights? Does the Chinese government policy answer to the hopes and desires of the Tibetans?

(Translated by Dhondup Tashi Rekjong and Tenzin Dickyi)

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Who Is The Hero Who Carries Half the Sky? http://tibetwebdigest.com/who-is-the-hero-who-carries-half-the-sky/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/who-is-the-hero-who-carries-half-the-sky/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 07:20:41 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1275 Boshuk Kyi is from Trika, south of the Kokonor in Amdo. She works at the Qinghai Research Center for Tibetan Medicine (མཚོ་སྔོན་བོད་ཀྱི་གསོ་རིག་ཞིབ་འཇུག་ཁང་།) and studies at the Qinghai Tibetan Medical School (མཚོ་སྔོན་གསོ་རིག་སློབ་གླིང་།). She has been published in numerous journals including Sunlight (ཉི་འོད་།), Dolma (སྒྲོལ་མ), Snowflower (གངས་རྒྱན་མེ་ཏོག) and the very prestigious Light Rain (སྦྲང་ཆར།).

Boshuk Kyi’s poem “Who Is The Hero Who Carries Half the Sky?” won the national Tibetan women’s writing competition in 2011. The poem is a celebration of Tibetan women. Of the women mentioned in the poem, Queen Trimalho was a powerful queen regent of the ancient Tibetan empire of the Yarlung valley, Machik Labdron was a visionary who created the practice of Chod-the only Tibetan to create such a practice instead of importing from India, and Milarepa’s mother was arguably as powerful an influence on his life as his teacher Marpa. But history underestimates their achievement. The below is an excerpt. The original in Tibetan has five more stanzas.

Who Is The Hero Who Carries Half the Sky?

By Boshuk Kyi

Think on our royal history built by empire.
Read the cursive script of our histories.
The pillar and pedestal on which rested that peace and prosperity,
Wasn’t that the discerning wisdom of Queen Trimalho?

When the pure dharma spread in the snow land of Tibet,
There were many translating this Indian dharma into Tibetan.
But inventing a new dharma and sending it to new lands,
Wasn’t that the majestic radiance of Machik Labdron?

We have legends of a thousand Buddhas who have come and gone.
Only the sage Milarepa achieved Buddhahood in one life and one body.
And the cause of his renunciation,
Wasn’t that the ego of his mother Nyangtsa?

When brave men roar and fight the bloody fight,
Map and draw two thirds of this circled world
And drink their victory drinks from the side of their mouths,
Who is the hero who carries half the sky?

Click here to read the original piece.

(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi)

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These Days http://tibetwebdigest.com/these-days/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/these-days/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 22:14:14 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1265 In 2009, the Wolf Band released their first album “Brother” (ཕུ་བོ) and in 2011, they released their second album “The Wolf Looks Back” (རི་སྤྱང་གི་ཕྱི་མིག). They have played at concerts in different parts of Tibet, and are the second rock band in Tibet after Namchak (གནམ་ལྕགས). They have said they are inspired by the unity and courage of wolves. The five members in the band are Pema Dorjee, Kathup Gyal, Tsering Shawo, Tashi Shawo and Dhondup Shawo. For this song, “These days”, the lyrics were composed by Trungsang and the melody by Kathup Gyal.

These Days

Lyrics: Trungsang

Melody: Kathup Gyal

In my dream, Tibet the land of snows
Where the white snow speaks rise high in the highlands,
The rivers run clear in the low valleys
And the white flowers bloom in the middle pastures,
And the seas and lakes sound ashore with splashing waves
And the sheep bleats echo over this happy land.
This is my fortune and your smile.

In my dreams,
A stallion’s hoof beat cleaves the earth’s chest,
And a hero’s roar pierces the cliff.
Holding my shoulders high at the feet
Of the snow mountain, I build a house that belongs just to me.
My education, my foot steps, my vision– they scatter in four directions.

When I open my eyes,
A fog of beggars cloud the monastery begging,
The plastic women, arrogant with their youth, deceive men’s hearts.
My anger and my grace diminishes,
My shoulders fall, my estate decays.
It’s ruined, rotted, twisted, finished.

When I open my eyes,
The wind has blown off the flower petals.
All my beautiful dreams lay shattered.
Broken.
I have lost my living.
Lost. It.

Youtube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJwJJWn0tTU

(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi)

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The First Howl http://tibetwebdigest.com/the-first-howl/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/the-first-howl/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 07:00:46 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1254 Wolf band

In 2009, the Wolf Band released their first album “Brother” (ཕུ་བོ) and in 2011, they released their second album “The Wolf Looks Back” (རི་སྤྱང་གི་ཕྱི་མིག). They have played at concerts in different parts of Tibet, and are the second rock band in Tibet after Namchak (གནམ་ལྕགས). They have said they are inspired by the unity and courage of wolves. The five members in the band are Pema Dorjee, Kathup Gyal, Tsering Shawo, Tashi Shawo and Dhondup Shawo. For this song, “The First Howl”, the lyrics were composed by Lhadruk Tsering and the melody by Kathup Gyal.

The First Howl

Even the moon wanes and dims
The wind blows and howls over this winter’s landscape of night
What a pity
We who are tortured by hunger and thirst
Where do we go
Where shall we go
A long time ago Mother said
Grains fell down from the sky
Maybe it was so
We who take refuge in the sky
Where do we go
Where shall we go
We who are slaves to food and clothes
Soon to dissolve like snow
The golden spire atop the Potala is about switch colors
With the sounds of the letters
And the cries of the wolves
Let us rise
Let us pounce

Youtube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rycLOXAXRDw

(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi)

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On Translating the Kangyur and Tengyur into English http://tibetwebdigest.com/on-translating-the-kangyur-and-tengyur-into-english/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/on-translating-the-kangyur-and-tengyur-into-english/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:47:43 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1250 The Kangyur and Tengyur are the vast corpus of Buddhist literature. The Kangyur are the Buddha’s teachings and the Tengyur are the commentaries written over by Indian masters. Over the course of centuries, Tibetan translators translated this entire corpus into Tibetan and now this literature, which originally came from India, survives only in the Tibetan language.

There’s a new project to translate the Tibetan Kangyur and Tengyur into English. This project was started in 2010 and the director of the project is Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. The project is called “84000: Translating the Kangyur and Tengyur.” The first big meeting to discuss this project was held in October 2013 in Bodh Gaya, India. At the meeting, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche said this regarding the goal of the project, “It’s been around 2500 years since the Buddha passed away. And yet, the number of people who are paying attention to the Buddha and his teachings are actually increasing. There’s a great diversity among these people and it is important for those who are his disciples to support and help these people. The best way that we can help them is by making the dharma accessible to them.”

Regarding this Kangyur and Tengyur translation project, there’s a lot of debate happening among ordinary Tibetans. On Facebook and on various sites, there’s a variety of opinions in Tibetan.

On Tsenpo website in Tibet, someone named Palchen Dhondup wrote an opinion piece called, “The Kangyur and Tengyur that Dzongsar Khyentse is Selling to the West.” In the piece he wrote, “I have heard that someone named Dzongsar Khyentse has put together a big organization to translate the Kangyur and Tengyur into English. I don’t have anything to say about what’s wrong with him, but for someone who is kissing the ass of Westerners, snatching the bowl away from Tibetans will allow him to make a living for himself. But he is very brave to reduce the life span of the Tibetan language. From what I know, since the study of Gedun Chophel began in the field of Tibetan Studies, there have been about a hundred non-Tibetans who studying Tibetan. Since Gedun Chophel’s “gtam rgyud gser gyi thang ma” was translated into English [as "Grains of Gold"] this year, there is no longer anyone studying Tibetan among researchers of Gedun Chophel.”

He continued, “The writings of Sun Tzu and Confucius are spreading all over the world, and the related institutes and the benefits all accrue to the Chinese people and China reaps a great many advantages from this. Because of this spread, the influence and reach of the Chinese language has also increased. Will Tibet get any such benefits from offering the Kangyur and Tengyur to the western world?

As if in answer to Palchen Dhondup’s essay, someone named Rigpe Reldri has written a piece about this project on Tsenpo site as well with the title, “Translating the Kangyur and Tengyur into the Language of the 21st Century is like the Earlier Translations Undertaken by the Dharma Kings.”

He wrote, “From century to century, the dharma kings and the translators expended all their wealth and resources to translate the Buddha’s teachings and the Buddhist commentaries into Tibetan and this Kangyur and Tengyur is our most precious wealth. His Holiness the Dalai Lama says time and again that this precious wealth of ours is something that belongs to the world, and I realize that. Even now, this precious wealth which belong to the world remains in the Tibetan language and less than 0.1 percent of the world’s population has the ability and opportunity to access it.”

The essay continued, “It seems like some narrow minded people are saying that translating the Kangyur and Tengyur into English will become a cause for decline of the Tibetan language or that we will lose the ownership over the Kangyur and Tengyur to other people and other such nonsense. Actually these comments don’t even deserve responses. But because rather than following the wisdom which distinguishes between right and wrong, our society prefers to follow gossip and prejudiced talk, I am forced to clarify. We don’t have to worry that translating the Kangyur and Tengyur and transferring this literature into English will empty the Tibetan language. The teachings and the commentaries that are in Tibetan will remain intact as they are.”

Around a hundred and forty translators are working on this project. The work is projected to take about a hundred years. Millions of dollars will be spent and are being spent. As we begin to translate the canon out of Tibetan, are we also, at the same time, translating foreign literature into Tibetan?

Original links:
1) http://www.rfa.org/tibetan/tamlenggiletsen/tamlengzhalpar/Sutra-and-commentarial-canon-translation-conference-10252013154150.html
2) http://www.tsanpo.com/debate/1534.html
3) http://www.tsanpo.com/debate/1876.html

(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi and Dhondup Tashi Rekjong)

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Tibetan Spelling Mistakes and More http://tibetwebdigest.com/tibetan-spelling-mistakes-and-more/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/tibetan-spelling-mistakes-and-more/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:04:19 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1243 Labrang

Shokjang was born in Labrang in Amdo. He studied Tibetan literature at the Northwest Nationalities University in Lanzhou. He is a leading intellectual of his generation. He has published four books: The Courage of the Path (ལམ་གྱི་སྙིང་སྟོབས།); The Pen’s Strength (སྙུ་གུའི་སྟོབས།); For Freedom I Have No Regrets (རང་དབང་གི་དོན་དུ། ང་ལ་བློ་འགྱོད་མེད་།); and The Courage of Rangdrol (རང་གྲོལ་སྙིང་སྟོབས།). He writes on Tsenpo and Samsara.

Tibetan Spelling Mistakes and More

By Shokjang

Once a father received a letter from his son which read, “It has been a year since my thigh got stuck together with my chest (ང་བརླ་བྲང་ལ་འབྱར་ནས་ལོ་གཅིག་ཡིན།).” As the father was not literate, he asked a lama to read the letter for him. After reading it, the Lama told the father, “Your son’s thigh (brla) has become stuck to his chest (brang).” [In Tibetan, (བརླ brla) means thigh and (བྲང་། brang) means chest]. The father was much saddened by the news.

What the son meant was that it had been one year since he arrived at Labrang (bla brang) (ང་བླ་བྲང་དུ་འབྱོར་ནས་ལོ་གཅིག་ཡིན།), but since he misspelled the word, it created confusion and gave the wrong message to his father. In one of the writer Yangba’s articles titled “Tibetan, A Language That Can Be So Very Misspelled,” he talks about a banner on which was written “The People-Killing Brigade” (མི་གསོད་རུ་ཁག). The title shocked him. Totalitarian governments suppress their people mercilessly but it was unbelievable that they were establishing such a brigade to kill people. Actually, the real meaning of the text was “The Fire-Killing Brigade”, not “The People-Killing Brigade”. Here again there was a spelling error because in Tibetan, the word “me” (མེ ) means fire and “mi” (མི) means human. Since the root word for both is “ma” (མ), if you change the first vowel with the third vowel, it means something totally different. But who knows? One day the “The Fire-Killing Brigade” may really be converted to “The People-Killing Brigade” and there’ll be no place for us to hide.

These past few years, the local government has made countless banners with such spelling errors. For instance, spelling mistakes like Ganlho Donkey Prefecture (ཀན་ལྷོ་བོང་རིགས།) are quite common. (Here they wrote “bong rigs བོང་རིགས།” instead of “bod rigs བོད་རིགས”. ‘Bod’ means Tibetan and ‘bong’ means donkey.) It is good to see that many writers are concerned about the issue and of course in the end it is our responsibility to take care of our own language. But whether because of bad influences from the local government or not, spelling mistakes are proliferating almost everywhere from individual publications to websites, blogs and on WeChat as well. Many Tibetans don’t even hesitate before making these spelling mistakes.

Recently, I saw a brochure while I was at home. There were both Tibetan and Chinese text on it. It said, “Nyima Restaurant for Super Beings or High Lamas.” (ཉི་མ། བླ་གྲ་ང་གསོལ་ཁང་།) I was quite confused and just looked at the Chinese letters and then understood what it meant. But if you are someone who doesn’t understand Chinese, then it will definitely confuse you because of the spelling mistake. What the brochure means is “Nyima Labrang Restaurant”. If we go back to the original meaning of the misspelled brochure, ‘la’ means high or superior, ‘ta’ means the tip of an animal’s hair, ‘nga’ means I and ‘solkhang’ means restaurant. As the phrase is spelled, it means “Nyima Restaurant for High Lamas” or “Nyima Restaurant for Super Beings” instead of “Nyima Labrang Restaurant.” Instead of the name of a common Tibetan restaurant in Amdo Labrang, because of the wrong spelling, the restaurant has become a special restaurant for lamas and super beings. How confusing is that?

Actually, Labrang in Amdo is a cultural hotspot. The Geluk monastery of Labrang Tashi kyil is established there. The restaurant I mentioned above is a popular restaurant that many locals, both monks and lay people, frequent but either no one took the trouble to mention the mistake to the owner or the owner was very stubborn about it.

Frankly speaking, it is our responsibility to study and preserve our own language before it gets ruined by our enemies. These days, there are people who talk a lot about the importance of the Tibetan language but in reality, they don’t study Tibetan well and don’t use it in a practical way. So there’s a gap between what they say and their practice in reality. I don’t think such fake things will last for long.

Any country or human being has the right to study their language and also the responsibility to avoid misusing it. Having both right and responsibility is part of your freedom and it is your fundamental responsibility to study and preserve your own language freely. If you can’t handle the basic responsibility, you can’t have the other rights.

In the recent years, we started writing about freedom and democracy and protesting for them as well, but we are not studying our own language and pointing out our own mistakes. I have worry and concern about our understanding of the situation of our own culture and society. Sometimes, I feel that Tibetans now are just like the Tibetans that came before us.

Just as it will take us time to correct and get rid of these spelling mistakes, so it will surely take us time to get a proper understanding of our culture and society and solve the Tibetan issue.

The original link: http://www.korawa.com/index.php?c=content&a=show&id=106

(Translated by Dhondup Tashi Rekjong)

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Why Are People Fighting Over The Caterpillar Fungus? http://tibetwebdigest.com/why-are-people-fighting-over-caterpillar-fungus/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/why-are-people-fighting-over-caterpillar-fungus/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 02:49:46 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1231 Caterpillar fungus

Recently there was a fight between two villages in Tibet over caterpillar fungus. As a result of this fighting, a young man of thirty was stabbed and killed. These two villages, called Kude and Dornying Nyalung, were both in Rebkong in Amdo. There were even four or five op-eds written about this brouhaha on the literary site Tsanpo. Tsanpo.com is a new Tibetan language literary site with dedicated columns for writers where they can post their own writings, so Tsanpo has become very active and popular. Tsanpo has essentially become what Sangdor used to be. (It’s been about four months since Sangdor was shut down.)

The editorial board of Tsanpo wrote: “This site is not a space just for our editors nor a space for everyone to post their every grievance and complaint. Instead we have tried to create a free and open platform for our writers in the spaces in between these two extremes. Our many years of experience in maintaining such sites has guided us in creating this platform”.

Regarding all this fighting over land and water rights in relation to the caterpillar fungus, the writer Sonam Dorje Langtsang wrote an article entitled, “Where Are the Leaders in Charge of the Welfare of Rebkong People Hiding?” He said in the piece, “The local government officials ignore that national goals of harmony, cooperation and welfare. If the meat is fat, they eat it and if the wine is sweet, they drink it. But they won’t fix the disputes and force the people to resolve the fights. For example, last week a lot of people got hurt in a four-hour fight on a mountain between the nomad and farming people of Changlung in Rebkong. A few herders and some monks from the monastery tried to mediate but none of the public welfare security people or police or local officials came to mediate or stop the conflict. It was left to the wives of the men who were hurt to take them to the hospital. The question is, where were all the policemen who usually come in droves when twenty or thirty Tibetans gather in one place?”

Another writer called Palchen Dhondup wrote a piece about the Rebkong incident called “There is Certainly a Chaotic and Disordered Tibetan Character.” In it he said, “One cause for the blood feuds and all these injuries from al this fighting over land rights is that in these two counties, the county officials don’t educate the people about the constitution and the policies. Elsewhere too, as in these two counties, the knowledge of the law is very low. In all these many years, in prefecture and county, town, township and village, they have taught people to oppose splittism, to oppose disturbance to national unity and to oppose destruction, theft and robbery, and they have introduced people to the laws and policies of the regional autonomy; but they haven’t done anything to really create safety and security among the public or anything about people’s legal rights, and they haven’t take any steps or made any decisions to solve land rights disputes between different groups or people.”

Sonam Dorje Langtsang wrote an opinion piece called, “We Are Being Deceived by the Caterpillar Pungus” in which he argued, “It is since the eighties that Tibetans have found a method of making quick money which is called the caterpillar fungus. Since people learnt how to pick this caterpillar fungus, there’s been a harmful effect on Tibetan culture, arts and handicraft and business. Even now, very few people recognize this harmful effect.” He continued, “In particular, there’s more and more people who think it’s better to stay at home and pick caterpillar fungus rather than pay a lot of money to go to school. With the increasing number of households who don’t want to send their children to school, the state of Tibetan education has really suffered. In the thirty years since the eighties, most families have come to depend only on caterpillar fungus and the other livelihoods and careers of most villagers have disappeared. Those who knew carpentry have given up carpentry to rely only on picking caterpillar fungus. Those who knew smithing have given up smith-work to rely only on picking caterpillar fungus. Those who knew farming have given up farming. In the same way, the demon of caterpillar fungus has possessed tailors and mechanics and every other kind of worker doing an honest day’s work.

Since Tibetans learned how to harvest the caterpillar fungus, not only have the fights over land have become more violent but there are more conflicts between different villages and more family feuds and the situation is becoming very urgent. If we keep on depending only on the caterpillar fungus, we are putting our culture and economy aside and buying our own ruin and defeat.”

Thus, many aspects of society are changing in relation to the caterpillar fungus and there are various causes and reasons for these changes. There are also different opinions and thoughts regarding these changes. For example, when I was in Tibet in 1999, one caterpillar fungus fetched between 1 and 2 Yuan. Last year, one caterpillar fungus fetched between 25 and 30 Yuan. Of course there would be a corresponding change on Tibetan society, wouldn’t there?

(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi)

The original links:
1) http://www.tsanpo.com/debate/2228.html
2) http://www.tsanpo.com/forum/2237.html
3) http://www.tsanpo.com/forum/2261.html-
4) http://www.tsanpo.com/about/edit-explain

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Listen. Where Is That Bark Coming From? http://tibetwebdigest.com/listen-where-is-that-bark-coming-from/ http://tibetwebdigest.com/listen-where-is-that-bark-coming-from/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 20:44:06 +0000 Dhondup Tashi Rekjong http://tibetwebdigest.com/?p=1225 Sangdor is a well-known Tibetan writer who has published five books.
In particular, his book “Tulphod”, with its new metered verses,
created a literary stir among Tibetan writers. He is the former editor
of Sangdor website which was shut down recently. This piece was
published on Rangdrol blog in 2012.

Listen. Where Is That Bark Coming From?
By Sangdor

That day, my friends and I were on the street when we suddenly heard a dog bark coming from out of nowhere. When we looked, there was no sign of a dog anywhere around us. Not far from us, there were some young Chinese in sports gear walking alongside us. In a little while, again we heard this disembodied bark. Where was it coming from? We thought about it but it just didn’t make any sense. Was it perhaps a dog as small as a fist hiding in somebody’s bag? We searched each other right away but didn’t turn up a single dog’s hair let alone a dog.

Our stories tell of a Jha Gobo called Gokhig which eats marble. It’s said to be as small and low as a shoe with a clairvoyant power for recognizing poison. When a Changkya Lama served as spiritual adviser to the Chinese emperor, he saw that the emperor kept a small Gokhig in a teacup. But this street wasn’t the imperial palace where you needed to suspiciously keep a small Gokhig in a teacup. Anyway, who knew whether the Gokhig even barked like regular dogs? As we thought and wondered about the source of these barks, the Chinese guys in the sports gear elbowed each other and giggled. Once again, there came a heart piercing bark and then a ‘haha’. Ah. This godforsaken dog- it wasn’t a dog at all but a man! We were all astounded.

Later as they barked, in voices high and low with different rhythm, their tails rose up, their tongues rolled down and we just stood there openmouthed. Since that day, sometimes even when I am in bed at night, this image comes to my mind and I just start laughing. Please don’t ask me where or how or why. If these youths were able to get a dog’s mask and a dog’s claws on their bodies, what will happen? I am not intentionally making a joke here. If they make a change in how they eat or make a switch between a house and a kennel, it’ll be hard to say what a spectacle it will be.

If this were a story of men imitating other animals like dogs, in Namkhai Norbu’s Journey Among the Tibetan Nomads, he talks of a bird called atakayu, with a grey color, a black beak and dark grey feet. This bird lives in holes in the pastures and when it come out, it rides on the pikas’ backs. Namkhai Norbu writes that when it comes time for the pikas to move, the nomads have seen these birds carrying the pikas across mountains and rivers that the pikas could not cross on their own. Isn’t this an example of animals imitating humans?

In that case, it is not too much to say that in in the past birds spoke like men. Am I also allowed to say that there will come a time when men will bark like dogs?

(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi)

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