Roof of the World: Tibet in Context

Conversation with: Dr. Gyal Lo, Tibetan Activist and Sociologist

by Team FNVA

Hosted by Kate Saunders, FNVA Senior Fellow

Youtube link :

For this episode of Tibet in Context, we focus on the life of the 10th Panchen Rinpoche in Tibet, who worked to protect the Tibetan language, culture and religion with the 6th Gungthang Rinpoche, whom many consider to be the right hand of the 10th Panchen Rinpoche – from the perspective of a Tibetan educationalist with personal experience of this very period and interaction with both Rinpoche’s. With Professor Gyal Lo being being close friends with the Gunthang Rinpoche.

After escaping from Tibet in 2020, Professor Gyal Lo presented His Holiness the Dalai Lama with his book about the remarkable life of Gungthang Rinpoche. In this episode, Professor Gyal Lo reflects on the entwined lives of these three great religious leaders, including:

  • How 21 years in Chinese prisons during the Cultural Revolution saved Gungthang
    Rinpoche’s life.
  • How learning Chinese and dialectical materialism in prison assisted Gungthang
    Rinpoche’s work upon release to rebuild monasteries and reinvigorate religious
    practice together with the Tenth Panchen Lama. And also how he learned music and to play instruments under such harsh circumstances which ushered in an era of Tibetan music that unites both those in occupied Tibet and the ones in the diaspora.
  • How, before his death, he risked everything to support the Dalai Lama’s
    recognition of Gendun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Rinpoche – and Jiang Zemin’s role in protecting him.
  • How Gungthang Rinpoche and the 10th Panchen Rinpoche shared their scars after
    years in prison, and refused to give up nevertheless.
  • The installation of a reincarnate 7th Gungthang Rinpoche at Labrang monastery, and the impacts of his grandfather’s self-immolation.

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