An article shared on social media in Tibet shared some rare and unseen pictures of contemporary Tibetan writer, scholar Gendun Chophel. These rare pictures include some of the Tibetan scholar’s journey to India and Bhutan as well. These are pictures kept by his family members and friends in his remembrance.
Gendun Chophel was born on 20th April, 1903 in Rebkong Amdo to Dorjee Gyaltsen and Pema Kyi. As a child he was named as Rigzin Namgyal and he was considered as a reincarnated Lama.
Gedun Choephel lived till 1951 as he passed away on the 10th of September that year at Lhasa after two years of his release from prison. While the following is an extract of Gendun Chophel’s biography, a more detailed biography of the Tibetan scholar can be found here.
He started early monastic training at Labrang Tashikyil, later studied at Gomang college at Drepung Monastery from 1927. He studied logic and epistemology (pramana), Prajñaparamita and Madhyamika, excelling in debate. He gave up formal studies in 1934, and accompanied Rahul Sankrityayan on a search for rare manuscripts in the monastic libraries of southern Tibet, including that of the great temple of Sakya. For the next twelve years, he travelled extensively throughout the Indian subcontinent, learned Sanskrit, Pali and English, and collaborated with George Roerich in his monumental translation of Gö Lotsawa’s Blue Annals.
While in India, Gendün Chöpel wrote many original works, including a guidebook to the major pilgrimage places of India, a treatise on eroticism (‘dod pa’i bstan bcos), a history of Sri Lanka, works on the origin of Tibetan script, and an unfinished work on the early history of Tibet called the White Annals, as well as writings on geography, in which he argued against the traditional presentation of cosmology given in the abhidharma literature.
He also wrote on the subject of politics, and became involved with the Tibet Improvement Party, which was based in Kalimpong. After returning to Tibet in 1946, he was arrested on counterfeiting changes, and sentenced to three years in prison. He passed away in 1951, only two years after his release. Perhaps his most famous and controversial work, An Ornament to Nagarjuna’s Intent (klu grub dgongs rgyan), compiled from instructions he gave on Madhyamika shortly before he was imprisoned, was published after his death.” according to RigpaWiki.