Tarab Tulku XI / A Tibetan Lama Tells His Life Story
by Dino Raymond Hansen
The origin of this narration goes back to the early 1970s when I was working as an assistant in the Oriental Department at the Royal Library in Copenhagen. A Tibetan named Ngawang Losang worked in the same department. At lunchtime we would go down to a small coffee shop near the entrance of the library and Losang would recall days of his childhood and youth in Tibet. Gradually, I came to know that he was not only Ngawang Losang living in Hørsholm north of Copenhagen but also the 11th reincarnation of Tarab, a high ranking lama from a monastery in Gongbo, 850 km southeast of Lhasa. Losang was Tarab Tulku XI, a so-called Living Buddha, but he did not directly tell me so until years later.
In November 1979 I started to prepare for a documentary film about Ngawang Losang and Tibet with the working title 'Tibet Revisited'. My proposal was accepted by the Danish Government Film Office and a long-term research and preparation took place during the years 1980-82. The plan was to start shooting in Tibet on 1 May 1983. Part of this research was to sit down with Losang and more systematically record his life story on tape. After each session I would make a transcription of the recording in Danish, have it translated into English and get it approved by Losang.
Losang's life-story was an essential part of the synopsis of the film to be sent to the Danish Government Film Office, DR TV (Danmarks Radio TV) and Danish Film Institute for funding and to the Chinese Ministry of Culture in Beijing and the Tibetan Government in exile in Dharamasala for the requisite permissions. By November 1982 the production budget was co-funded by the Danish institutions and permissions to film were obtained from the Chinese and Tibetan authorities.
In November 1982 Losang and I went to see Dalai Lama who was giving a lecture at the University of Hamburg. Dalai Lama wished us good luck with the film project. Later the same month I went on a research trip to Tibet for several weeks to visit Losang's old mother Kalsang and her family, his classmate Lamrimpa at Drepung Monastery and other persons and locations of importance for the film, but the Chinese producer would not allow my to visit Tarab Monastery in Gongbo.
Well, the film 'Tibet Revisited' with Tarab Tulku XI was never realized. A few days preceding 1 May 1983 the Danish Government Film Office received a telex from its counterpart in Beijing asking the film team to postpone the departure. The postponement turned out to be eternal. But nevertheless a unique text was left behind and that is this story of Losang's, the story that lives in words though not in filmic images.
Tarab Tulku XI (1935-2004) / A Tibetan Lama Tells His Life Story
1. Family Background 7
2. Found as an Incarnation Lama 9
3. Childhood in the Monastery 13
4. Studying in Lhasa 15
5. The Study of Buddhism 19
6. Criticism of the Studies 23
7. The Journey Back to Gongbo 26
8. The Chinese Arrive 29
9. The Studies in Lhasa are Resumed 31
10. A Classmate 35
11. The Times are Changing 38
12. The Escape to India 49
13. In the Refugee Camp 54
14. With the Tibetan Government in Exile 56
15. First Journey to Denmark 59
16. Back to India 63
17. Second Journey to Denmark 65
18. Reflections on Buddhism 66
19. Tibet Revisited 71
Copyright © 1983-2014 Dino Raymond Hansen & Wake Film ApS
Translated from Danish by Uffe Bergh
Published by Wake Film ApS, Copenhagen, Denmark