Gyatsho Tshering (1936 - 2009)

Gyatsho Tshering (1936 – 2009)

Gyatsho Tshering la was born in 1936 in Sikkim to a mediocre family. He graduated from Calcutta university, India and joined the government of India as a class ‘A’ civil servant where he served in the ministries of Foreign affairs and home. During his tenure in the former ministry he was briefly posted to the indian mission in Lhasa and served there until the PRC invaded Tibet in 1959.

Coming into exile when a new administration was set up by His Holiness, there was a dearth of modern educated, qualified and competent officers. This lacuna in the administrative setup prompted the late elder sister of His Holiness, Lhacham Tsering Dolma la, to turn on to Gyatsho la and urged him to serve in the newly instituted

In 1963, sacrificing the covetous post of the indian Civil service, he joined the Tibetan exile administration. Ever since he joined the exile fold, he had served in various important capacities including secretary of the Department of religious and Cultural affairs, official translator to his holiness and editor of the official bulletin.

In the late 1960s, Gyatsho la was entrusted with the onerous job of setting up a library by His Holiness. Despite limited resources, he made his way through this arduous job.After a couple of years, the fruits of his hard work paid off and in 1970 a distinctive library building with typical traditional elements emerged.

The following year the door was flung open to the public. Gyatsho la officiated as its acting Director in the early years, while holding the post of secretary of the Department of religious and Cultural affairs.

In 1974,his holiness appointed him as the Director.Since then he served for the institute that he virtually fathered, nurtured and developed into an internationally acclaimed centre until his extended retirement exhausted in 1998.

According to Mr. Ngawang Yeshi, Secretary of Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA), “Gyatsho la’s stint at the library brought several feats. to cite the least, the ltWa invented the first-ever Tibetan type-writer in the late 1970s. In the mid-’90s Tibetan fonts were integrated into computers for the first time and made available for use. Recognition from himachal pradesh university, government of Himachal pradesh, was earned. The parliament of the exile government accorded the institute the full status of national library, museum and archives. Despite a number of significant accomplishments, he would keep his profile low and would balk at any publicity. he would say “it is better to have a small stove with intense fire than a large stove without heat.” He indeed transpired a dream of his holiness into reality. today, the LTWA proudly stands as one of the premier tibetan cultural and academic institutes in the world committed to preserve and promote one of the most ancient cultural heritages.

Having sacrificed his prime life of three decades and a half for the services of his holiness and the Tibetan cause,  Gyatsho la breathed his last on 25 June 2009 in the usa leaving behind a legacy of selflessness and utter conviction. He was not only an erudite scholar, translator, editor and conscientious administrator but also dedicated, industrious, and indefatigable yet a person of absolute simplicity and humility. a gentleman of such calibre is indeed very rare to find these days.”

Source: Obituary Gyatsho Tshering by Ngawang Yeshi

Related materials:

1) Obituary: Gyatsho Tshering, Eminent Scholar of Tibetan Studies by Bhuchung K. Tsering

2) Biography: Gyatsho Tshering in


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