Name: Jampa Gyaltsen, Geshe
Interview Age: 88
Date of Birth: 1925
Birthplace: Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India
Year Left Tibet: 1962
Political Prisoner: Yes
Interview No.: 17B
Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India
Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment
Keywords: childhood memories, forced labor, imprisonment, monastic life, thamzing/struggle sessions
Geshe Jampa Gyaltsen was born in Ladakh in India to parents who were farmers. He recalls being the youngest of 10 siblings and herding goats at the age of 7. At age 12 he became a monk and then at the age of 17 he traveled to Tibet. He joined Drepung Monastery to study philosophical debating and lived there for 20 years.
In 1959 Jampa Gyaltsen was captured by the Chinese and imprisoned for two years for attending a meeting in protest against the Chinese occupation. He was subjected to hard labor for six months and admits that his hardship made him contemplate suicide. He describes the earlier attack on Drepung Monastery and how the Chinese captured the abbots and business managers of the monastery. He witnessed the thamzing 'struggle session' that the monastery's business manager was subjected to. Along with other foreigners, Jampa Gyaltsen was jailed in Drapchi prison for eight months. Food was limited and religion was banned.
Jampa Gyaltsen was released from prison after intervention from Indian authorities. He moved to the relocated Drepung Monastery in Mundgod, south India. He recounts taking his geshe 'Buddhist philosophy' degree and then moving to Gyumed Monastery in Hunsur for further studies. He describes his providential escape from three nearly fatal accidents.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Pema Tashi (Videographer)