Reflections on Tibet
a film by Luc Schaedler
1:1,85 • 35mm • Colours
97 minutes • Ov/d
In India, Gendun Choephel was confronted with a foreign world. For
the first time he saw a railway and other technological achievements.
India was then undergoing radical changes and, contrary to Tibet,
the Indians took their destiny into their own hands. The fight for
independece was at its peak. Gendun Choephel’s view of his
own culture started to change; in India he experienced the most
creative phase of his life. He travelled across the country as a
Buddhist pilgrim, lived in the crowded city of Calcutta, saw the
ocean, visited brothels and libraries, wrote his first newspaper
articles and translated the Kamasutra in Tibetan, enriching it with
his own experiences. He sent many of his writings, notes and sketches
back to Tibet in order to convey his impressions of a foreign world.
Return to Tibet (1946-51)
In 1946 Gendun Choephel returned to Tibet passing through the Indian-Tibetan
border town of Kalimpong which, next to British and Chinese agents,
was a nest of radical Tibetans who fell out of grace with Lhasa’s
government. In 1939 they founded the Tibetan Revolutionary Party.
Choephel got acquainted with the party and designed their logo:
a sickle crossed by a sword. The Tibetan Revolutionary Party’s
goal was to overthrow the tyrannical regime in Lhasa. When Gendun
Choephels arrived in Lhasa the Tibetan government was already informed
about his political activities. He began to write the political
history of Tibet but this attempt was abruptly stopped by his arrest.
He was accused of insurrection and thrown in jail for three years.
In 1949 he was freed. But his heart was broken and he drowned his
desperation in alcohol. Soon afterwards the Chinese army overran
the Tibetan troops in eastern Tibet and, in 1951, shortly after
the occupation of Lhasa by the Chinese army, Gendun Choephel died.
Supposedly he commented on the political events of his era in this
way: "Now we’re fucked!."