The Water Horse and Other Years (A History of 17th and 18th Century Tibet)

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Item Code: IHJ085
Author: K+Dhondup
Publisher: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala
Edition: 2003
ISBN: 8185102341
Pages: 106
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 160 gm
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Book Description
Back of the Book

The water Horse and Other years in a history of Tibet During the 17th and 18th century’s roughly covering the period form the first to the Seventh Dalai Lamas. It attempts to capture the sound and fury of the sectarian and regional conflicts and turmoil that dominated the larger part of some of the most violent and power hungry chapters in Tibetan history when diverse personalities such as Qosot Gushir Khan, Desi Sonam Chophel, Karma tenkyong Wangpo Desi Sangay Gyatso, Qosot Lhanzang Khan, Kanchenay Sonam Gyalpo, Miwang Pholalany Sonam topgyal, Gyurmed Namgyal and many others roamed across the Tibetan landscape in search of personal sectarian or regional victory and domination and between the lines of these violent and fright inning chapters run the lives the Dalai Lamas and the Panchen Lamas, constantly providing spiritual solace and strength to the suffering Tibetan masses crushed under ceaseless power struggles between the Tibetan regents Mongol chiefs and Manchu emperors above all the water horse and other years traces the political rise of Ganden phodrang as personified in the person and institution of the Dalai Lamas who have kept Tibet throughout the centuries.


Author’s Introduction

There was time when the Tibetan past was dead for me. It could neither inspire not provoke me. Then my main interest was the Tibetan future and the way it was being shaped by the material and spiritual conditions of political exile. As a young refugee I tired to write a few line on the future of Tibet. But I was being romantic. My approach was unrealistic. Not having understood the beauty and ugliness the war and peace of the Tibetan past I was unable to read the calm and confusion of the Tibetan present nor see with any certitude the strength and weakness of the Tibetan future for a society uprooted its culture and history facing the certain threat of revision and examination at the hands of the superior occupying forces the past with its history and heritage is of utmost importance and it has to be preserved in all its beauty and ugliness. Lately shadows and voices of the Tibetan past invade my mind time and again partly because of exile and the mutilating introspection which it enforces and partly because I am in search of my roots brutally uprooted and scattered since my childhood. Now their is an urge to recreate the Tibetan past and bring to life the political institutions so that I can hear in my mind the echoes of the war songs of the Tibetan ancestors and share their joy of triumph and sorrow of defeat.

The water horse and other years is the result of such a personal search. It is not a book for the specialists. Through research and the numerous footnotes and bibliography which a specialized work entails are entirely missing. The materials brought together in this book are available in varied sources. I read the sources and brought together the five articles which constitute this book. These five articles are independent of each other. But reads as a whole they provide the necessary historical sequence. I wrote the articles independent of each other as I was not sure that I will be able to complete all the five articles and bring them under one cover. So Tsanyang Gyatso. The Unique Dalai Lama was Written first to serve as an historical introduction to my booklet songs of the sixth Dalai Lama Published by the library of Tibetan Works & Archives in 1981. The same article appears here in slightly edited form. But once I came across the fascinating and often violent characters that roamed across the pages of the 17th – 18th century Tibet immersed in incessant sectarian and regional fighting. I saw in this period a sad reflection of the eternal Tibetan situation and hoped to find a clue to the historical make up of the Tibetan political institutions and national psychology that has continued more unchanged. The Dzunger invasion of 1717 and their devastation of Lhasa appalled me. The emergence of Miwang pholany sonam Topgyal attracted my admiration but personally the saddest lines were the ones that I wrote on Tsanyang Gyasto and Gyurned Namgyal. Tsanyang Gyasto was a Dalai Lama who personally rebelled against the strict monastic training and in the process become a pawn to be tossed to and fro in the cruel sea of power policies infested by the Tibetan Mongols and the Manchus. Gyurmed Namgyal the son the illustrious Miwang pholanay was a lonely nationalist. It was his fate to dream of a Tibet free of the Manchus at a time when every lord and lama was fawing for Machu support. Unfortunately for Tibetan history his inexperience and impetuosity led to history brutal death leaning his dreams shattered.

The first article the Dawn of the Dalai Lama was written last. It attempts to cover briefly the central events form the first to fifth Dalai Lama but the individual Dalai Lama are not discussed at any great length since the mephsis is on the sectarian power struggles whose adroit and skilled manipulation by Desi Sonam Chophel finally unity and the spiritual strength which it always needed in the form of Ganden Phodrang and the Dalai Lama.

Sources for this book are many but the most authoritative and profuse have been the works of L. Petech, Shakabpa, Dungkar Losang Trinley, Desideri, Sumpa Khenpo and History of the dalai lamas etc. the director of the library of Tibetan works & Archives Mr. Gyatsho Tshering deserve my heartfelt thanks for reading and commenting on the manuscript thoroughly besides persisting in his effort to enable the work t see the light of day. My friend Tashi Tsering research scholar at the library has helped me in locating sources and has added useful corrections besides giving numerous suggestions. The information office and the Kashag are due my thanks for clearing the work for publication besides pointing out two factual errors. And finally I thank my friend Sonam Chophel for typing and preparing a neat co[y form my messy manuscript.

The water horse and other years is intended for the young Tibetans. It is a personal attempt to reach my generation lost in teaching writing knitting studying dancing enjoying TV, Video football cricket or basketball that when it comes to the question of Tibetan Survival as a cultural and political community it is our past its history and culture based on Buddhism and bon that will see us through another catastrophe all in one peace.




1 The Dawn of the Dalai Lama 1
2 Tsanyang Gyasto: The Unique Dalai Lama 31
3 1717 : The Year of the Locust 51
4 Miwang Pholanay : The Phoenix 69
5 Gung Gyurmed Namgyal : The Nationalist 95

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