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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Obituary: Gyatsho Tshering, Eminent Scholar of Tibetan Studies

June 29, 2009

by Bhuchung K. Tsering

Ku-ngo Gyatsho Tshering, former director of the Library of Tibetan Works &
Archives and a respected scholar, passed away on June 25, 2009 at a hospital
in Minneapolis, MN, after a brief illness. He was 73.

Born in 1936 in Sikkim to Lobsang Lama and Nyima Dolma, he finished his
college education from the University of Calcutta. Following his studies,
Ku-ngo Gyatsho la worked in the Ministry of External Affairs and the
Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India, and had served at the
Indian Mission in Lhasa. He also served in the Government of Sikkim.

He joined the service of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in 1963 and worked
in various departments until his retirement in the late 1990s. He served in
the publications and translation department in 1965. In 1966 he was
transferred to the Foreign Department and in 1967 to the Department of
Religion and Culture. During his stint there he was a member of the
entourage of H.H. the Dalai Lama during his first trip to Japan and
Thailand. Subsequently he was promoted as a Secretary in the Department and
later as Assistant Kalon. In 1972, he became the acting Director of the
newly established the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives (LTWA) until the
appointment of Prof. Thubten Jigme Norbu as the Director in June of that
year. He was appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the new Director of
the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in 1974 and served in that
capacity from March 1, 1974 until his retirement. Following his retirement
he joined his wife, Namgyal Dolma, in the United States and they settled in
Minneapolis, MN.

He was an unassuming individual who shunned publicity, but was totally
dedicated to his work. He came to serve the Tibetan community during those
years when there was a dearth of educated Tibetans with adequate knowledge
of the English language or exposure to the world. His most significant
contribution would be the development of LTWA as the pre-eminent center for
Tibetan studies internationally. He nurtured several Tibetans in the field
of Tibetan studies at the LTWA. Also, it may not be incorrect to say that
almost all of the Tibetologists serving in various research institutes and
universities throughout the world currently have had some educational stint
at the LTWA during his tenure there.

His simplicity and his readiness to be of assistance endeared him to all
those he came in contact with. Personally, he has been a source of
encouragement to me from the time I started working in Dharamsala in the
early 1980s. I benefitted greatly from his advices.

As a subject of Sikkim and a citizen of India, Ku-ngo Gyatsho la had quite
many work opportunities, often with more attractive compensation than the
one he was getting at the LTWA. However, his reverence and loyalty to His
Holiness the Dalai Lama and his love of the Tibetan people made him reject
all such job offers and to continue with his work in the Tibetan community.

He liked gardening and used to have a neat but small garden at his official
residence at the LTWA.

He is survived by his wife Namgyal Dolma and daughter Yiga Lhamo.
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