Date: Water Dragon year, 7th month, 25th day (1892)
Remarks: seal of the King of Lo
A letter from the King of Lo to the lama of Tshognam, Tshewang Bumpa. The lama appears to have claimed that he and his brother Doyön are not liable for the payment of trade tariffs when travelling through Lo on the grounds that they, and not the king, are the owners of their priestly estate. The king denies that they are the owners, citing the restoration sponsored by an earlier queen as the basis of royal ownership. He nevertheless acquiesces to the Tshognam lamas’ exemption from taxes, not on the basis of their ownership of the estate but on the grounds of their priestly status and activities.
1. lugs gnyis bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan khris rtser ngom pa’i khri lcaṃ la yum nor ’dzin dbang mo zhes mtshan nyi zla ltar krag pa’i tshogs gnams mgon pa sa sngag
2. chos gling ’di bzhin sar stabs mdzad te bla ma chos dbying rang sgrol zhes pa’i [2S] mdzin te bstan pa yar rgyas mdzad te chos gyun sogs =e= [b]yon mdzad pa bcas glo
3. rang gi gon pa dngos nas zos bral yin stabs da bar rgyud pa rim ’byon ngos gon mnyam med byas pa dang rkabs ’dir bla ma tshe dbang bum pa legs dang ’dod yon gnyis
4. nas sngar ltar gon ’dzin nyam med byas bzhin sngon dus nas bla ma rang gi gon nor mtshong ’krod mdzod song gnyis gsum nas bcu bar ji yod la khur cang khel du srol
5. med mkhyun zhu ’dug kyang de ma bden su ma nges kyang dgong gsal mgon pa glo bo rang gi gtsang mchod yin ’dus kyang blaṃ (bla ma) dpun gnyis ’di khar gus zhabs che stabs
6. blaṃ (bla ma) dpun gnyis sku tshe mdzad pa naṃ mkhyong bar khal mdzo bong bu gnyis gsum bcu bar la khur cang mi len pa khong rang yas mas kun nas sde bar chun dgos dang
7. blaṃ (bla ma) dpun bcas nas kyang sngar ltar chos mkhyun nyaṃ med dang gus zhabs su ma song pa’i rigs byas tshe de skabs zhib bya rgyu bcas mtshang mas ’di sgom tshul bzhin
8. yong pa byed | zhes sde pa’i (?) khar nas chu bgrugs zla 7 yar phyog dga’ pa’i tshes 25 bris (seal)
1. khri rtser; bkrag pa’i; dgon pa 2. gsar btab; ’dzin te; rgyun sogs 3. dgon pa dngos; skabs ’dir 4. mnyam med; dgon nor ’tshong sprod 5. rgyun (?) zhu; gong gsal; spun gnyis 6. spun gnyis; nam ’khyong 7. spun bcas; chos rgyun nyams med; tshang mas 8. mkhar nas chu drug; phyogs dga’
Following its restoration by the king of Mustang and his queen, Nordzin Wangmo, who were as splendid as the sun and moon, the temple of Sang-ngag Chöling, in Tshognam, was occupied by Lama Chöying Rangdrol. He caused the doctrine to flourish. The temple unquestionably belongs to Lo. The lineage has continued down to this day in an unbroken succession, and it is now occupied by Lama Tshewang Bumpa and Döyön. However, the lamas’ constant plea that have always traded freely with their animals, passing through Lo to Tibet without paying transit duties, is not true. But because we holds the lama and his brother in high regard, and because their temple, Sang-ngag Chöling, belongs to Lo, they may make commercial trips through Lo to and from Tibet with anywhere from three to ten pack animals (dzos or donkeys) without paying tax, for as long as they wish. If, however, the lama and his brother should do anything that is unworthy of this unbroken tradition of religious activity, or engage in activities that cause our respect to be withdrawn, an investigation will be carried out according to custom. The letter has been sent from the ruler’s palace. Seal of the King of Lo.
Note: the hand in which this document is written is not very clear, and some of the readings are conjectural.
Although the precise circumstances that provoked this letter are not known, the episode occurred during a period of discontent against the payment of tariffs (khur cang) imposed on traders travelling through Lo. In 1863 the Government of Nepal had demanded that traders pay the customs office in Dana revenues that had until then been paid to the King of Lo. However, the latter refused to accept the withdrawal of these traditional taxes, and there appears to have been a period when traders from the Shöyul were paying double revenues. In 1900 the Shöyul petitioned the government to intervene, but it was not until 1910 that an official order (rukka) was issued expressly forbidding the King of Lo to levy khur cang duties. (For a more detailed account of these events, see Demoness 64–66.)
In the present case, the lamas seem to be arguing that they should be exempted from paying trade tariffs on the grounds that they are the owners of the temple of Sang-ngag Chöling, a claim that is peremptorily dismissed by the king. The king does, however, accept their exemption on the grounds of their priestly status and religious deeds. The “unworthy” activities that might result in the forfeit of these privileges are not specified, but probably to refer to an attempt by the priests to make an illicit profit by including the animals of tax-liable traders in their own caravans.
The dates of Chöying Rangdrol, the first member of this priestly lineage to live in Tshognam, are unknown, and we know of no other references to a queen of Lo named Nordzin Wangmo.