An inside account of the Chinese invasion of Tibet told through the voices of three persecuted monks
• Shares the true story of three monks’ heroic escape from occupied Tibet and the subsequent rebirth of the Bön religion in exile
• Introduces Bön, Tibet’s oldest religion, and a traditional way of life extinguished by foreign occupation
• Reveals details of the 1950 Chinese invasion of Tibet and the exodus of thousands of Tibetans to neighboring countries
Providing an inside view into the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the tenets of Bön, one of the world’s oldest but least known religions, this book chronicles the true story of three Bön monks who heroically escaped occupied Tibet and went on to rebuild their culture through incredible resilience, determination, and passion.
After taking his vows to become a Bön monk and completing a pilgrimage around 22,000-foot Mt. Kailash, the holiest mountain in Tibet, Tenzin Namdak envisions a life of quiet contemplation at Menri, Bön’s mother monastery. Instead, he finds himself fleeing for his life across the highest and most difficult terrain on the planet. After being joined by a CIA-backed warlord, Tenzin’s escape party is ambushed and he is severely wounded. Narrowly escaping execution by Chinese soldiers, the dying Tenzin is taken to a concentration camp, where he is afforded special consideration because of his status as a monk. He overcomes his nearly fatal wound and makes an arduous escape from Tibet over the daunting Himalayas.
The other monks, life-long friends Samten Karmay and Sangye Tenzin, witness Tibet’s capital explode in a violent insurrection against Chinese rule. Escaping to Nepal, they worry about the survival of the Bön religion and begin collecting scattered works of Bön scripture. A chance meeting with British scholar David Snellgrove brings the three monks together again and dramatically changes their lives. Snellgrove invites Sangye, Samten, and Tenzin to spend three years in London on a Rockefeller Foundation grant. There, they hone their English and forge influential relationships, enabling Tenzin to answer the pleas for help from the Bön community by founding a settlement in exile in India. Sangye is chosen as the 33rd Menri Trizen, Bön’s highest office, and together the three monks help rebuild the nearly extinct Bön religion.
Aside from the escape of the Dalai Lama, no other Tibetan escape has been so consequential for so many.
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