By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, March 26: Prominent Tibetologist and author David Llewellyn Snellgrove has passed away on March 25 at his home in England. He was 95 years old. He had authored well known publications such as ‘Buddhism in Tibet
’ and ‘Nine Ways of Bon
Born in Portsmouth in England in 1920, he studied at Southampton. Later he was called for military service as a member of the 'Royal Engineers' and stationed in Barrackpore near Calcutta during British rule.
Snellgrove's first significant connection with Tibet came when he was recuperating from malaria in a military hospital in Lebong, Darjeeling where he read a few books on Tibet including dictionary by Charles Bell and began learning Tibetan language. During his many visits to Darjeeling, he employed a young Tibetan named Lhachen with whom he practiced his Tibetan language.
David with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in an undated photo
His involvement with the Tibetans in India and the Tibetan cause in the 1960’s saw him take five Tibetans -Sangye Tenzin Jongdong, Tenzin Namdak, Samten Karmay, Sonam Pandem Trangjun, and Tashi Lhakpa - to London for the development of Tibetan studies at various universities in London, Paris, and Rome. Two of those Bonpo monks, Sangye Tenzin and Tenzin Namdak, later returned to India and with the help of two refugee organizations, established a Bonpo settlement at Dolanji near Solan in Himachal Pradesh. In 1966, from the proceeds of the book ‘Cultural History of Tibet’ co-authored by Hugh Richardson, Tibet House (also known as Institute of Tibetan Studies) in Hertfordshire, UK was constructed.
Dharamsahala based Tibetan writer Bhuchung D. Sonam said, "He was a pioneering scholar on Tibet, who authored many books and wrote countless essays on all aspects of Tibetan culture and religion. It's an immense loss for Tibet and Tibetan studies."
David’s knowledge of Sanskrit, Pali and Tibetan languages and many years of research in the Himalayan culture saw him author many books including ‘Four Lamas of Dolpo’, ‘Buddhist Monasticism
' and ‘Himalayan Pilgrimage’
among others. He was Professor of Tibetan studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London until his retirement in 1982.