DHARAMSHALA, India, 2 October 2020
The title question could be answered with the following points:
1. Deep concern for the education of Tibetan children
Twenty-three years ago, I came from Tibet to India with firm determination to receive audience and teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I also aimed, by availing the precious educational opportunity, to become either a teacher or a medical practitioner, which are the two professions that serve best for the benefit of others.
During the initial audience with His Holiness at his residence, there were about 300 Tibetans of different ages. In his presence, there were many well-kempt Tibetans including monks, officials, and bodyguards.
Among them, I saw a man — just past his prime, a bit short in stature, with short hair and having a black mole on the inner corner of his left eye. He was watching and smiling at us frequently. Seeing his unpretentious smile and the beaming facial expression, I missed my parents and spontaneously exclaimed in silence, “How fortunate you are to be like this!” Later on, I learned that person was Mr Ngodup Dongchung, then a secretary for the Security Department of CTA.
When about 40 of us were leaving for Suja school, Ngodup Dongchung was on his way from His Holiness’ residence to his office. He paused and briefly looked at us with a radiating smile and said, “This time all these children look well-suited to go to school.” Looking specifically at a young man a bit older and taller than the rest, he said, “since you are a little older and bigger, you must put special efforts in studies.” Strangely, not long afterwards, this young man left school.
From these anecdotes, we can see Ngodup Dongchung holds special concern and affectionate attention for the new arrivals from Tibet, and that he takes great responsibility for the education of the youth.
2. An epitome of unblemished character and virtuous nature
Seven years later, when I was pursuing medical studies in Mentseekhang, I happened to see him frequently, either in the presence of His Holiness or after the departure of his entourage. He wore the same classic style, demeanor, and expression. I often used to see the staff and students residing in Gangkyi greeting him with supreme respect. Similarly, I had seen him bowing his head and giving handshakes to everyone he met. He was full of friendly fervor without any discrimination or inkling of pretention. It turned out this humbling gesture became the cause of escalating my respect for the officials of CTA.
Likewise, many people with deep concern for and interest in Tibetan society, including writers from inside and outside Tibet, high-ranking personnel, civil servants, and co-workers have similar observations about him. Furthermore, later when he resigned from the post of Kalon on the grounds of moral ethics, the great scholar His Eminence Professor Samdhong Rinpoche complimented him, the staff at Department of Security organised a commemorative ceremony to express their gratitude to him, and the Domey gold medal was awarded to him. These clearly confirm that he is the best example of moral ethics — genuine and unadulterated in its form — which is derived from the Tibetan religion, culture, environment, and customs.
3. Knowledge and experience
Kasur Ngodup graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is well-versed in the three languages of Tibetan, English, and Hindi. Since 1977, he has served in various capacities, and climbed each ladder from an ordinary staff to one of the most important positions in the Ministry of Security Department. He has served for a period of 44 years, shouldering numerous responsibilities, such as providing coordination and high level of protection and personal security for His Holiness, bridging the relations between outside and inside Tibet, resolving the plight of the Tibetans, looking after the well-being of Tibetan political prisoners, clearing bureaucratic Visa complications for Tibetans traveling abroad. He has fulfilled all these roles without any conflicts and shortcomings.
In short, during a time when His Holiness had the busiest schedules, he accepted the responsibility of the protection and security of His Holiness, discharging this duty without a grain of oversight or incompetency. During his long service he has acquired deep experience and unadulterated dedication from working alongside countless numbers of people including Kungo Depon Taklha Phuntsok Tashi, Secretary Jampa Kalden, Wangdor la, Ngari Rinpoche, Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, and many high-ranking Indian dignitaries. As a person, it is observed that he is someone who has extensive knowledge in all matters, skillful in planning, meticulous and thorough, possessing qualities of a professional researcher, maintains cordial relationships with members of staff, and has the ability to foster and sustain friendly relationships with many races and countries.
4. Deep respect and high approval from both inside and outside Tibet
At a critical period when contacts between inside and outside Tibet were ostensibly broken, he risked his own life and went to Tibet to personally investigate the wellbeing and real conditions of Tibetans. He covertly builds connections with the political organizations to transmit the wishes and aspirations of His Holiness, his good health, and information about his policies and approaches.
However, it has come to my full understanding only now that he is a living example of a brave soul who will even sacrifice his precious life for the welfare of the Tibetan people. Particularly, the general Tibetan public in Tibet, the Tibetan political prisoners, his colleagues, educated people, and many thoughtful Tibetans trust him, take pride in him, and have been praising him for a long time for his approaches and strategies. His knowledge and wisdom, the uprightness of his inner nature, his decency, and his capabilities receive high respect from Tibetans from all walks of life.
Presently, there are many Tibetans — young and old, male and female — who are unpretentiously hoping and supporting him for the post of Sikyong. As the number of such supporters is increasing, it is quite needless to say that this is a testament to the amount of respect and confidence that they have in him.
5. Understanding the aspirations of His Holiness, and having the ability to execute his guidelines
In any case, HH the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is the lifeline of today’s Tibet and Tibetans. There is no greater thing that we can do than carrying out his wishes and advices. The former Security Kalon has been in the presence of and in proximity to His Holiness for years, and has personally seen or interacted with countless number of people who came to meet with His Holiness. As a consequence of this, he is broad-minded, thinks solely for the public welfare and considers the public and the government as the foremost priorities.
In this way, he has been serving the Tibetan people for 44 long years without ever even remotely going against the kind words and teachings of His Holiness, all of which ascertains his firm vow that so long as the Tibetan issue remains unresolved, he will continue working for the Tibetan people with a rock-like determination and affirmation.
6. Student of a kind teacher and son of good parents
Professor Samdhong Rinpoche — the heart son of the Supreme Protector Chakna Pedmo (Holder of the Lotus Flower) or Avalokiteshvara, a man of supreme learning and the owner of ten-fold knowledge and Science — is like the great minister Gar-tongtsen during the time of Songtsen Gampo, and like the famous regent Sangyae Gyatso of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama’s period. Kasur Dongchug Ngodup is like a disciple of such an exalted personage as Rinpoche himself. Besides, he was also privileged to have served as the Secretary and Minister during Rinpoche’s tenure as Kalon Tripa. Since Kasur Ngodup Dongchung can be called one of the finest disciples of such a kind and accomplished scholar as Rinpoche, he has qualities that are different from others.
Free from pride and partiality as he is, there is no doubt at all that he can be a leader who can strengthen the functioning the Tibetan Administration and forge the unity of the Tibetan people like it has never been before. The fact that he has been living only in India for these 44 years and continuing to serve the Tibetan administration wholeheartedly is indicative of his family’s high level of support for him, and surely an aspect of their dedication and sacrifice for our cause. On that account, it is reasonable to say that he is a son of good parents.
- The ability to implement the wishes and aspirations of His Holiness.
- High moral character and stable nature from a very young age.
- Having a wealth of experiences as a civil servant.
- Carrying out His Holiness’ wishes without slightest fault of partiality or favoritism.
- Skillful in decision-making following careful scrutiny and thorough examination of all matters.
- Pure intention and well-immersed in Tibet’s religion and culture.
- Highest level of hope and trust from Tibetans from inside and outside of Tibet.
- Ability to sacrifice and contribute for Tibet’s cause.
- Abundance of knowledge, good character, and experience.
- Resilience against any form of challenges.
Kasur Ngodup Dongchung is someone who is endowed with all these ten good qualities of a virtuous person. For the sake of the Tibetan people and Tibetan nation, it is hoped that he ascends to the post of the next Sikyong. For fulfilling that end, I would like to extend my full and unwavering support.
About the author
Doctor Phuntsok Tendar Barpu is a Tibetan medicine practitioner based in Dharamshala, India.