Date: “the excellent tenth day in the upper half of the month” (ca. 1900)
Lines: 22
Script: ’khyug


  1. khyen stan yang ma | ster yul [r]nams la yigs cung phul pa’i snying po la |
  2. sngon bdag (bla ma) ’od gsal (rdo rje) nas yig ge ’phul pa’i snying po la sngon (yi ge) gang yod
  3. ’phul pa yin | phul nas khyed rnams gyi bzhus phran bdag ’od gsal (rdo rje) nas bzhus
  4. pa ’di las lhags ma bzhan med zer bzhus pa yin sna skal sa skal skad
  5. cha mang gi ’dug ’bo ’rgyal sleb yong zer pa’i bka’ shog sleb ’byung
  6. sngon nga yi mkhas pa rnams gyi dbu mdzad yul mi spyi la bzhus spa
  7. na skal sa skal zer pa ’di las lhags pa’i (yig ge) bzhan med | rab ’byung
  8. na skad cha ’di bzhin mdzod ma ’byung na (yig ge) ’di las lhags pa med
  9. zer nas bdag sna mthon pa yod | ’di las khyeng rnams gyi ’gro sa yod
  10. tshes i sar bcugs pa dang ’gro sa med tshe bzhag pa snang | khyed bskyi bka’
  11. mthun mdzad pa bzhus bdag gi (yig ge) la rtsi mi dgos | spyi thun gang
  12. thun khyed rnam mdzed pa bzhus | bdag ming rtag khung sham gsal nas ’di las
  13. lhags pa bzhan med | bcas yar tshes bzang bor tshes bcu la tshogs rnam nas
  14. ’phul pa (dge dge) | (bkra shis) | ye shes ang mo tshugs stang ma
  15. sna skyu ’khor gyi brgyud pa kun ’ga’ dbang phyugs brgyud pa rab chad phar
  16. sa tshur za ’khang pa rang sa (yes shes) dbang mo tshogs rnam (bla ma) tshe dbang ’rgyal ’khyim ’du
  17. sleb pa bde gnyi gyi bu krug grogs mo (mkha’ ’gros) | (bla ma) tshe dbang ’rgyal | tshug
  18. pa’i sa ru dad rgan tshugs (yes shes) dbang mo steng ma kun dga’ dbang phyug khyim
  19. nas slebs ba yin | yes shes dbang mo spun | brag {1S} dkar sleb pa chos ’gros ma yin
  20. bcas ’di lhags pa bzhan med | (yes shes) dbang mo a ma chi skyabs ’bu grigs
  21. phyi skyab ’bu brig khyogs kha (brgyal mtshan) don ’grub bde gnyis gyi bu krug ye shes dbang
  22. mo chos ’gro ma yin | (bkra shis)

Part of an exchange of correspondence between Lama ’Od gsal rdo rje of Tshognam and the community of Te. Regarding what they asked him in their letter, he says, he knows nothing more than what he said earlier in his own to them. He has received their letter to the effect that a mixture of falsehood and truth (l.4 sna skal sa skal < Nep. nakal sakal) had been said in the past and that the Tepas have had difficulties in consequence of this. The best course of action for them is to follow the advice given in his earlier letter: he can add nothing more than what was said in there, and is willing to swear an oath on it. They may, he goes on, find fuller infor- mation from some other source, in which case they should prepare a public notice (i sar < Nep. istihār?); otherwise they should let the matter rest. They do not even need to take any notice of his earlier letter—the important thing is that they should agree among themselves.

Then, after ending the first part of the letter by setting down the date, he adds the follow- ing information, possibly a summary of the content of his earlier letter: Ye shes dbang mo was from the sNa skyu ’khor clan of the sTang ma sector of Tshug, the neighbouring settlement. Kun dga’ dbang ’phyug, her father (?) had no male heirs and the lineage came to an end. She married Tshe dbang dbang rgyal, the first ancestor of the Tshognam priestly lineage to come to Te. They had a child named Grogs mo (’Brog mo?) mkha’ ’gro. He then repeats this information and adds some supplementary details: Lama Tshe dbang dbang rgyal settled on the territory of Tshug (i.e., in the temple of Lower Tshognam), and Ye shes dbang mo came from the house of sTang ma Kun dga’ dbang ’phyug. Her sister, who married into the Brag dkar sector of Tshug, was called Chos sgrol ma. There is nothing more than this [to say]. Ye shes dbang mo’s mother was ’Chi skyabs bu ’khrid. The latter’s husband was rGyal mtshan don grub. Ye shes dbang mo was their daughter.

Unfortunately this document offers few clues about the circumstances in which it was written. The most likely context would be a dispute over the inheritance of property in Tshognam. In any event, the account given by ’Od gsal rdo rje concerning his ancestry is wildly at odds with the picture that emerges from the abundant archives of Tshognam itself, presented in Tibetan Sources vol. 2. According to these documents, Ye shes dbang mo actually had two sons, Rig ldan and Rang sgrol, both of whom became lamas, and a daughter, Phur pa dbang mo. The three of originally lived in Lower Tshognam, which is situated on the territory of Tshug. ’Od gsal rdo rje was the illegitimate son of Phur pa dbang mo by a nomad from northern Lo. Following the death of his mother he was evicted from the property she had been allotted for her lifetime, and moved to Upper Tshognam, on the territory of Te. The Tshognam archives leave us in no doubt about the acrimonious relationship between ’Od gsal rdo rje and his uncles. While the author of the present letter does cite his advanced age apparently as an excuse for his failure to remember certain details (l. 9, bdag sna [na] mthon pa yod), this antagonism is surely a more likely reason for his omission to name Rig ldan and Rang grol. His ingenuousness is nevertheless surprising, since it would hardly have been difficult for his Tepa correspondents to establish the truth of the matter.