Trisur Juchen Thupten Namgyal was born in Meshong, Dege district of Kham province in the year 1929. From an early age, he took a keen interest in the studies of Tibetan language and Tibetan Buddhism.
At the age of 17, he went to Lhasa and Sakya to study Tibetan Buddhism. He returned to Dege at the age of 19.
In 1955, when the Chinese forces first started using military force in the name of liberation in Kham areas, he realized the evil intentions of the Chinese communist regime. The people of Kham, at that time, were getting ready for a revolution against the Chinese communist forces. He joined the resistant fighters and went twice to Lhasa as a representative of the Chu Shi Gang Druk to inform the Tibetan authorities of Chinese brutalities in Kham and to ask for military help.His second trip to Lhasa in the year 1956 coincided with first conference of the Preparatory Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region. At the conference, he accused the Chinese of inhumane brutalities in Kham and asked them to stop the military aggression.
When he reached Chamdo on his way back from Lhasa, the Tibetan revolution has gained so much momentum and there were protests everywhere. Seeing that it is highly risky to move forward to Kham, he returned to Lhasa.
In 1959, during the Tibetan people’s uprising, he led a 200-strong voluntary soldiers from Kham to guard the Norbulingka Palace of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
After coming into exile, he settled in Missamari and Kalimpong. From 1960 – 72, he went to live at a Tibetan settlement in Mysore where he served as group leader, member of assembly and member of Co-operative Society for nine years.
From 25 December 1972 – 4 May 1976, he was elected as a member of the 5th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. He was the Speaker of the Parliament from 8 August 1974 – 4 May 1976.
On 11 May 1976 at the age of 47, he was appointed as the Kalon of Information Department of the Central Tibetan Administration. He served as the Kalon Tripa in the 6th and 7th Kashag. During his 15 years tenure of Kalon, he served as the Kalon of Education from (August 24, 1980 – January 1985) and (September 1987 – November 1988).
He was in the first fact-finding delegation which visited Tibet in 1979.
In 1982 and 1984, he led the three-member exploratory mission sent by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Beijing to kick-start discussion on key issues of Tibet. The other members of the delegation included Kalon Phuntsok Tashi Takla and Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, the then Chairman of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies.
During the first and second people’s Kalon Tripa election in 2000 and 2005, he ran as the final candidate for the post of Kalon Tripa competing with Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, who became Kalon Tripa on both the successive terms.
He served as the member of Tibetan Homes Foundation’s Governing Body till his last breath.
He died at the age of 82 due to illness at a hospital in Delhi on 31 August 2011. He is survived by his five daughters and grandchildren
Kalon Trisur Juchen Thupten Namgyal’s talk on the establishment of Tibetan Settlements in exile at Amravati on 2006, published by DIIR, CTA