DHARAMSHALA: Dundul Namgyal Tsarong, a former government official of Tibet, who is prominently remembered for carrying the legacy of his father’s distinguished service to Tibet before the Chinese invasion, passed away at the age of 91.
He breathed his last at a hospital in Dehradun in northern India on 18 June 2011.
Dundul Namgyal Tsarong was born to Dasang Damdul Tsarong and Pema Dolkar in Lhasa in 1920.
On the advice of the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama, his father who was head of both military and civil service in the Tibetan government in 1920s, sent him to study at St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling, from 1935 to 1940.
After returning to Tibet, at the request of his father, he offered his service to power printing machines at the Drapchi mint. He took the help of Mr Reginold N Fox, who was working at the Indian Mission in Lhasa, to power printing machines using a ten horse-power diesel engine and successfully printed Tibetan currency notes on time.
Later, he contributed his expertise to work on the first-ever hydroelectric power station in Lhasa, proposed by his father to fulfill the future needs of the mint. He employed the valuable service of Mr Peter Aufschnaiter, an Austrian survey engineer, who escaped to Tibet from a prison camp in India, along with his companion, Mr Heinrich Harrer, the author of Seven Years in Tibet.
He also served under instructions in Wireless Telegraphy at the British Mission in Lhasa since 13 February, 1944.
He was later promoted to the rank of Rimshi (4th Rank) and appointed as an assistant to the Drapchi office.
He also served as Yaso commander, a Mongol title for commander of the Tibetan cavalry.
Following the invasion of Tibet in 1959, he escaped to Kalimpong in the northeastern Indian state of West Bengal.
He served as an English translator to Tsepon Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa, the former finance minister of Tibet, as there was dearth of English-speaking Tibetans in exile.
He was actively involved in helping the newly arrived Tibetan refugees through the Central Relief Committee for Tibetan Refugees in New Delhi, which was established by the Indian government.
He penned his father’s biography titled “In The Service of His Country: The Biography of Dasang Damdul Tsarong, Commander General of Tibet”. Dasang Damdul Tsarong, noted as a child for his unusual intelligence and capability, entered the personal service of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama at at the age of twelve. After distinguishing himself in military service he was promoted to a high rank in the Tibetan government and later became commander-in-chief of the Tibetan army.
Dundul Namgyal Tsarong is survived by his wife, Yangchen Dolkar Tsarong and his five children, Namgyal Lhamo Taklha, Norzin Shakabpa, Tsewang Jigme Tsarong, His Eminence Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche, and Tseten Paljor Tsarong.