Name: Phuntsok Topchu
Interview Age: 73
Date of Birth: 1939
Birthplace: Zokong, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1988
Political Prisoner: Yes
Interview No.: 46D
Location: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India
Categories: Chinese Invasion and Occupation
Keywords: childhood memories, monasteries -- destruction of , festivals, Chinese -- first appearance of, Kham, Chinese rule -- life under, monastic life, Chinese -- oppression under, pilgrimage, taxes
Phuntsok Topchu's family of nine members engaged in farming and herding animals in Zokong. He became a monk at the age of 14 years and recalls that many boys from his village joined the local monastery. Phuntsok Topchu tells us about how the monks in his region lived both at the monastery and at home. He describes the vows a monk must undertake and the different prayers sessions at the monastery. The monks went 7-8 times in a year to the monastery to take part in prayer assemblies, while spending the other days helping the family with farming and herding.
After the Chinese invaded and the monastery was destroyed, Phuntsok Topchu stayed in his village. He recounts the Ngogor Chenpo 'Great Revolt' against the three ngadak 'leaders' started by the Chinese. He talks about how the ruling class of monasteries, leaders and wealthy people were targeted and accused of false charges. He further recounts how his family's animals were confiscated by the Chinese and life was made unbearable when they imposed heavy taxation. He explains the various kinds of taxes that the people were forced to pay and how the rates increased rapidly over the years.
Phuntsok Topchu embarked on a pilgrimage to Lhasa. He completed 26 circumambulations of the sacred Mount Kailash and then escaped to India in 1987 through Nepal.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Pema Tashi (Videographer)