This year Flagship conference of the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI), the 7th Young Tibetan Research Scholars’ Conference was held virtually and also livestreamed through the Facebook from 18 to 20 August, 2021.
On 18th August 2021, the 7th Young Tibetan Research Scholars’ Conference was inaugurated by Sikyong Penpa Tsering, President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). In his inaugural address, the honorable Sikyong applauded the increasing number of Tibetans achieving advanced degrees including Ph.D. Sikyong Penpa Tsering also emphasized the success of current Tibetan education to the visions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from the early years of Tibetans coming into exile. This was followed by a brief introduction by Mr. Dawa Tsering, Director of the Tibet Policy Institute, who spoke on the importance of Tibetan history to the Tibetan cause and stressed that the researchers should focus more on the authentic history of Tibet to make their arguments convincingly.
The conference was scheduled for three days and divided into morning and evening sessions. Around thirty-three Tibetan researchers, including Professor Emeritus, Assistant Professors, Ph.D. scholars, Ph.D. candidates and highly qualified researchers participated in this year’s virtual conference. All the sessions were moderated by the research fellows of the Tibet Policy Institute.
The first plenary session was moderated by Dr. Tenzin Lhadon, research fellow at the TPI. Professor Ngawang Phuntsog, Emeritus, USA was invited as the guest speaker of the conference. Prof. Phuntsog started his talk by recounting his personal journey of being an ill-prepared doctorate candidate to achieving a full professorship in the USA and concluded his presentation with the importance of the Tibetan scholarship and Tibetan studies.
The first panel discussion was moderated by Tempa Gyaltsen Zamlha, the Deputy Director of TPI. The first speaker, Jamyang Dhondup (a Ph.D. candidate from Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Varanasi), spoke on the two extreme wars between Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty and Chuchen areas of Tibet and he emphasized that the rivalry among the Tibetans is one of the causes for other nations to seize Tibet, citing an example of wars between Tsanpa and U-stang during Gandhen Phodrang time where Nepal and Bhutan took advantages from the rivalry to enter in Tibet.
The second speaker, Jamyang Choedak (a Ph.D candidate from Central Instiute of Higher Tibetan Studies,Varanasi), discusses the importance of old murals found on the pillars and cave in Takten Phunstok ling Monastery. In his presentation, Choedak quoted Tao Situ’s words, that, “This monastery has the most extraordinary art painting which is not seen in any other monastery in Tibet.” This was when Taktok Situ visited the monastery in 1919.
The third speaker, Tsangtruk Topla (Senior Lecturer on Tibetan History at the College for Higher Tibetan studies, Sarah), delved on the possible historical background on the evolution of Tibetan National anthem. He highlighted the birth of Tibetan national anthem and its relationship with the Asia conference of 1947, held in New Delhi.
The second panel discussion moderated by Dr. Tenzin Lhadon began with a presentation on “Woodblock Printing Houses: A Chronology of its Geographical Spread in Tibet (1400-1900).” by Tenzin Yewong Dongchung (Ph.D. candidate of Columbia University). She highlighted that the woodblock printing houses may not be big in its physical form, but it was widespread in number, particularly it was prevalent in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
Ugyan Choedup (Ph.D candidate, department of History, the Pennsylvania State University), the second presenter, spoke on the “Two ways to be Sovereign.” In his presentation, Ugyan spoke on the existence of two different paradigms among exiled Tibetans on the understanding of discourse of sovereignty, one dominant and the other marginal that differently inform our understanding of the past and consequently shapes our vision of the future.
The final speaker of the third session, Tsewang Rigzin (Ph.D. Candidate from Columbia School of Social Work, Columbia University), highlighted that “In Pursuit of Modernization: The Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama and Tibet at the Dawn of 20th century.” In his presentation, he narrated the number of initiatives taken by the thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, during the dawn of 20th century in an attempt to bring Tibet on par with the modern nations around the world.
Second Day of the Conference
The third panel discussion of the second day was moderated by Dr. Tenzin Tsultrim, research fellow at the TPI. The first presenter of the session was Dr. Dorji Tsering, an Assistant Lecturer at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies. Dr. Dorji spoke on the association between the development of Modern Tibetan literature with Marxism and revolutionary literature around the world in general and in China in particular. He also discusses Modern Tibetan literature within the framework of Abrogation and Appropriation of the colonizer’s literary practice.
The second speaker was Rigzin Lhundup, a Ph.D. Candidate and Assistant Lecturer at the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Studies, Bangalore. In his presentation, Rigzin analyzed and explained the meaning of “Thus have I heard at one time”, a Buddhist text or words from found in the Kagyur manuscripts.
Dickey Chedon (Ph.D. Candidate from Gandhigram Rural Institute, Tamil Nadu), the third presenter of the session, made a presentation on the experiences of Tibetan refugees in Bylakuppe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her presentation was based on 40 samples and data collected by using an in-depth interaction with the interviewees.
The fourth panel discussion was moderated by Ms. Phenthok, a research fellow at the TPI. The first presenter of the session, Thinley Wangchuk (a postgraduate from the Dalai Lama institute for higher education, Bangalore), spoke on the Tibetan dance and music (Garcham and Rolmo ), particularly taking the case studies from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet.
The second speaker was Rigdol, a teacher and researcher from Shugseb Monastery. He presented on Lashey or Tibetan love song, which is part of Tibetan folk song. In his presentation, Rigdol underlined that lashey is not only a song about love and affection between two individuals, it has a wider aspect than that.
The third presenter was Rangdol, a Post-graduate from Sarah College for higher Tibetan studies. He highlighted on the history of new and gradual development on Cheysar poetry (བཅད་གསར་སྙན་ངག་).
Thinley Thutop, the final speaker of the session stressed on the use and significance Drowa in Tibetan Nomads way of life. The special features of Drowa, such as its resistance to insects, moisture, sunlight, rain and that it can last for almost 20-30 yrs.
The fifth panel discussion of the second day was moderated by Tenzin Tsetan, research fellow at the TPI. The first speaker of the session, Palmo Brunner, Ph.D. Candidate from Zurich University, spoke about Tibetan Diaspora. She explored the transnational links in order to analyze diaspora representative claims-making and how to mobilize transnationally in order to bring about change in their homeland in her presentation.
The second speaker, Karma Palzom, a Ph.D. Candidate from University of Wisconsin, discusses on political transformation, Cultural and Religious programming in multiple involvement of Tibetan Diaspora in the United States.
Dr Tenzin Namdol, a Post-doctoral research Scholar from School of Public Health University of Minnesota. Dr Namdol explained on the Tibetan Buddhist cultural models of death and dying in which he specifically delved on the tukdam and need of paradigm shift, personal care and psychophysical nature in Tibetan medicine practice in doctor-patient relationship.
Third Day of the Conference
Third day of the conference started with the second plenary session Dr Tashi Tsering. The special plenary session was moderated by Dr. Tsewang Dorji, research fellow at the TPI. Dr. Tashi Tsering, Department of Education, Mount Royal University, Canada, shared a very beautiful relationship between human and nature in the farming calendar of Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh.
The sixth panel discussion was moderated by Mr. Karma Tenzin, research fellow at the TPI. The first speaker of the session, Karma Tsering, highlighted on the military might and history of ancient Tibet, particular during Imperial Period in Tibet.
Namkha Dukdhak, the second presenter discussed the history and origin of Ngawa Takden monastery in Domey region of Tibet.
The third speaker, Dorji Phunstok, a teacher and researcher at Dzongsar Monastery, made a presentation on the prophesy of Avalokiteshvara chenrezig on perceiving Tibet and India by referring the sources from Kagyur and Tankyur.
The final speaker of the session, Tsetan Tashi, a Ph.D candidate, made an indepet presentation on the development and spread of (དུས་འཁོར་སྦྱོར་དྲུག་ཉེ་བརྒྱུད) Kalachakra.
The 7th or the final session of the conference was moderated by Dr. Tsering Dolma, a research fellow at the TPI. The first speaker was Dr Dolma Tsering, a Ph.D from Jawaharlal Nehru University, made a presentation based on data published by the Chinese government in the form of Tibet Statistical Year Book. She talked about the evolving employment structure and labor transition in Tibet Autonomous Region.
The second speaker was Dr. Tenzin Ghegay, a Ph.D., and Vice Principal for specialized studies at the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education. He spoke on the history of Tibetan kangyur and Tangyur scripture in exile and its preservation.
The third speaker was Tsewang Phunstok, a Ph.D candidate from Delhi University, discussed the empirical analysis on the status of Tibetan in exile, where he concluded that the population of the Tibetan in India is decreasing.
The final speaker of the session, Lhamo Kyab spoke on the origin and history of the word Tsang in Domey region of Tibet.
The 7th Young Tibetan Research Scholars’ Conference ended with a vote of thanks by Mr. Tempa Gyaltsen Zamlha, the Deputy Director of the Tibet Policy Institute. Mr. Tempa expressed his gratitude at the successful conclusion of the conference without any technical difficulties. He also thanked all the scholars for their in-depth research and discussions, Mr. Tempa, expressed his desire to see more scholars and new research topics at the 8th Young Tibetan Research Scholars conference.