Name: Ngawang Tsultrim Thepo, Geshe
Interview Age: 72
Date of Birth: 1940
Birthplace: Phenpo, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1960
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 1C
Location: Oakland, California, United States
Categories: Buddhist Traditions
Keywords: childhood memories, escape experiences, monastic life, refugee in India -- life as, Utsang
Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim Thepo was born in a village called Phenpa located near to Lhasa. His family farmed barley, peas, mustard and wheat and never sold the produce because villagers did not use money. He reminisces about how wonderful Tibet was because of the freedom to travel and natural beauty. He joined the monastery at age 15 and remembers his feeling of happiness when he donned a monk's robe for the first time. Monastic life was not easy; there were many chores for novice monks and a lot of scriptures to be memorized. Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim was elected as the private steward of Thepo Rinpoche, whose teacher was Lathi Rinpoche.
Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim had little exposure to the Chinese occupation until a message was sent to his monastery explaining that it was to be bombed by the Chinese and His Holiness the Dalai Lama had fled from Lhasa. Although many monks from the monastery ran into the hills and later returned, Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim continued on the escape to India with Thepo Rinpoche and Lathi Rinpoche. They witnessed many others being captured by the Chinese. After reaching India they were sent to Buxar for a few years, where many died from tuberculosis and suicide.
Geshe Ngawang Tsultrim later became the private secretary for Lathi Rinpoche and stayed with him at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, India. He is now in charge of nearly 20 young monks at Gaden Monastery in Mundgod, India. He describes the daily routine there and also the differences between monasteries in exile and those in Tibet.
- Martin Newman (Interviewer)
- Tashi Wangchuk (Videographer)
- Tashi Wangchuk (Interpreter)