Interviewee Profile

Name: Tsondue Kunga
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 78

Date of Birth: 1935

Birthplace: Digunang - near Lhasa, Utsang, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1959

Profession: Monk

Monk/Nun: Previously

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 9C

Date: 2013-07-05

Language: Tibetan

Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

Categories: Resistance and Revolution

Keywords: Buddhist beliefs, childhood memories, Chinese army -- invasion by , Chushi Gangdrug guerrillas, escape experiences, herding, March 10th Uprising, monastic life, refugee in India -- life as, taxes, Utsang


Tsondue Kunga fondly remembers his birthplace Digunang, near Lhasa as a beautiful village with a river, flowers, fruits and forests all around. He recalls that his family cultivated grains, mustard and peas and raised animals as well. They leased their land by paying with yaks.

Tsondue Kunga was inducted as a monk at age 9 at the Ngagpa Datsang of Sera Monastery at the request of his mother. He shares his experience of 15 years in the monastery, such as memorizing the scriptures and the specialization in tantric practice at the monastery. He then recounts the sudden change in his life when he and other monks went to the Potala Palace to fetch guns to counter the Chinese army. He witnessed the shelling of the Norbulingka Palace and the attacks on Sera Monastery, where many lives were lost trying to resist the Chinese bombardment.

Tsondue Kunga gives a detailed account of how and why the monks decided to flee Sera Monastery and join the Chushi Gangdrug Defend Tibet Volunteer Force. They had numerous encounters with the Chinese army and then an arduous escape journey through difficult terrain and he suffered from hunger and the grief abandoning many animals. Tsondue Kunga gave up the monkhood in exile and moved to the United States in 1969 to become a logger in Maine. He had a joyous reunion with his mother when he visited his village again after 22 years in exile.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Jeddadiah Emanuel (Videographer)
  • Kalden Norbu (Interpreter)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Tsondue Kunga on 7/5/2013

Length: 02:51:09

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