by Bhuchung K. Tsering
His Holiness the Dalai Lama inspecting the Library’s construction plans with former director of LTWA Mr Gyatso Tsering (Left) (Photo: Tibet.net/file)
Gyatsho Tshering, former director of the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives and a respected scholar, passed away on June 25, 2009 at a hospital in Minneapolis, MN, after a brief illness. He was 73.
Born in 1936 in Sikkim to Lobsang Lama and Nyima Dolma, he finished his college education from the University of Calcutta. Following his studies, Ku-ngo Gyatsho la worked in the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India, and had served at the Indian Mission in Lhasa. He also served in the Government of Sikkim.
He joined the service of the Central Tibetan Administration in 1963 and worked in various departments until his retirement in the late 1990s. He served in the publications and translation department in 1965. In 1966 he was transferred to the Foreign Department and in 1967 to the Department of Religion and Culture. During his stint there he was a member of the entourage of H.H. the Dalai Lama during his first trip to Japan and Thailand. Subsequently he was promoted as a Secretary in the Department and later as Assistant Kalon. In 1972, he became the acting Director of the newly established the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives (LTWA) until the appointment of Prof. Thubten Jigme Norbu as the Director in June of that year. He was appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the new Director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in 1974 and served in that capacity from March 1, 1974 until his retirement. Following his retirement he joined his wife, Namgyal Dolma, in the United States and they settled in Minneapolis, MN.
He was an unassuming individual who shunned publicity, but was totally dedicated to his work. He came to serve the Tibetan community during those years when there was a dearth of educated Tibetans with adequate knowledge of the English language or exposure to the world. His most significant contribution would be the development of LTWA as the pre-eminent center for Tibetan studies internationally. He nurtured several Tibetans in the field of Tibetan studies at the LTWA. Also, it may not be incorrect to say that almost all of the Tibetologists serving in various research institutes and universities throughout the world currently have had some educational stint at the LTWA during his tenure there.
His simplicity and his readiness to be of assistance endeared him to all those he came in contact with. Personally, he has been a source of encouragement to me from the time I started working in Dharamsala in the early 1980s. I benefitted greatly from his advices.
As a subject of Sikkim and a citizen of India, Ku-ngo Gyatsho la had quite many work opportunities, often with more attractive compensation than the one he was getting at the LTWA. However, his reverence and loyalty to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his love of the Tibetan people made him reject all such job offers and to continue with his work in the Tibetan community.
He liked gardening and used to have a neat but small garden at his official residence at the LTWA.
He is survived by his wife Namgyal Dolma and daughter Yiga Lhamo.