Interviewee Profile

Name: Phuntsok Topchu
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 73

Date of Birth: 1939

Birthplace: Zokong, Kham, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1988

Profession: Monk

Monk/Nun: Currently

Political Prisoner: Yes

Interview Details

Interview No.: 46D

Date: 2012-05-21

Language: Tibetan

Location: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India

Categories: Chinese Invasion and Occupation

Keywords: childhood memories, Chinese -- first appearance of, Chinese -- oppression under, Chinese rule -- life under, festivals, Kham, monasteries -- destruction of , monastic life, 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.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
  • Pema Tashi (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Phuntsok Topchu on 5/21/2012

Length: 01:09:21

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