Name: Ngawang Chunyi
Interview Age: 69
Date of Birth: 1946
Birthplace: Ruthok, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 28N
Location: Kathmandu, Bagmati, Nepal
Categories: Buddhist Traditions
Keywords: Buddhist beliefs, childhood memories, customs/traditions, escape experiences, refugee in Nepal -- life as, Utsang, wealthy/upper class
Ngawang Chunyi was born in Ngapring Ruthok in Utsang Province. She was the only child of her parents. They were accomplished practitioners of tsalung 'channels and energy [yogic methods].' Tsalung is part of the Nyingma tradition and the families root guru was Tulshi Rinpoche. Ngawang Chunyi received many wang 'empowerments' and lung 'spiritual oral transmissions' but she never received a proper education.
Ngawang Chunyi's great grandfather was the King of Ruthok, who surrendered his kingdom to the Tibetan Government and was then given a vacant plot of land nearby in Choeling. Her grandfather was a very wealthy and revered person, who remained in a special state of meditation after his death. Ngawang Chunyi's family lived in the Palace of Ruthok, an elaborate five-story building. Her grandfather gave them some land and her parents established a monastery for ngagpa, 'practitioners of tantra' and a small number of nuns.
When the Chinese occupied her hometown Ngawang Chunyi's parents feared they would be arrested so they decided to escape. Her arduous journey to Nepal included being stranded for 12 days on a snowy mountain pass without food. Once settled in Nepal, she learned how to inscribe wooden templates of scriptures and studied traditional Buddhist painting.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Henry Tenenbaum (Videographer)
- Palden Tsering (Interpreter)