Interviewee Profile

Name: Thinlay Chogyal
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 70

Date of Birth: 1943

Birthplace: Phenpo, Utsang, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1959

Profession: Monk

Monk/Nun: Previously

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 18C

Date: 2014-05-10

Language: Tibetan

Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

Categories: Culture and History

Keywords: childhood memories, escape experiences, farm life, guerrillas in Mustang, monastic life, refugee in India -- life as, taxes, Utsang


Thinlay Chogyal was born into a wealthy farming family in Phenpo near Lhasa. His family farmed a large amount of land leased from the Drepung Monastery. He describes the system of loaning grain to the poor people at the time of sowing, the rate of interest charged and the system of paying taxes to the monasteries based on land holdings.

Thinlay Chogyal shares his feelings about being made a monk around 11 or 12 years of age by his parents at the Nalanda Monastery. He was sent to live at the ladang 'high lama's residence' of Simwog Rinpoche, which was different from living in a monastery. He offers insight into the life and intense practices of Simwog Rinpoche.

After the Chinese army bombed Lhasa, a large number of people fled through his region. Simwog Rinpoche performed a divination to decide whether to flee or remain in Tibet. Thinlay Chogyal explains how the zenril divination was conducted and the results prompted Rinpoche to leave his home. A group of around 60 people fled to Nepal on a 3-month journey. Once in Nepal Thinlay Chogyal served as a clerk for the Chushi Gangdrug Defend Tibet Volunteer Force that had re-grouped in Mustang. He later travelled to Dharamsala, India to find Simwog Rinpoche and got a job in the Tibetan Administration's Education Department.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Tony Sondag (Videographer)
  • Tenzin Yangchen (of Portland, OR) (Interpreter)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Thinlay Chogyal on 5/10/2014

Length: 01:15:02

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