Name: Jamphel Dorjee
Interview Age: 80
Date of Birth: 1932
Birthplace: Derge, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1957
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 51D
Location: Tashi Jong, Tashi Jong, Himachal Pradesh, India
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: childhood memories, Chinese rule -- life under, Dalai Lama, education, escape experiences, Kham, pilgrimage
Jamphel Dorjee hails from Derge in Kham Province. He belonged to a middle-class farming family and spent most of his childhood studying Tibetan under his father, who taught a group of 6-7 boys in his home. Jamphel Dorjee explains the education of lay children at that time and expresses regret at not taking more interest in his studies. After his father's death when he was 13 years old, Jamphel Dorjee spent time working on the farm.
At the age of 20 he was selected to be an attendant to Jamyang Chokyi Lodro, a highly revered reincarnated lama. Jamphel Dorjee accompanied this lama in 1955 on an arduous pilgrimage journey to Lhasa. Upon reaching Lhasa, a special audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama was granted and His Holiness provided a letter of support for Jamyang Chokyi Lodro. They then visited various pilgrim centers in the Utsang region that included Yiru Bakor, Tandu, Sakya, Yarlung Sheda and Tseringjong. The group was welcomed and supported by aristocrats throughout the journey making this part much easier than the initial travels to Lhasa.
At a large gathering where Jamyang Chokyi Lodro was giving teachings, the Chinese forced the lama to proclaim how great China was in helping Tibet. That event led to their decision to escape to Sikkim in India. Jamphel Dorjee returned to Lhasa to meet his mother and relatives just as the Chinese were occupying the city in 1959 so he led his family to safety in India.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Pema Tashi (Videographer)