Two Songs About Tibetan Unity: “Mentally Return” and “The Sound of Unity”

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated two songs about Tibetan unity. “Mentally Return” was first performed in Rebkong in July 2006* for a large-scale outdoor performance by the giant of Tibetan music today, Yadong, and his three most well-known students, Kunga, Tsewang and Gangshung. “The Sound of Unity” is new from July 2010 and it is performed by the Amdo singer Sherten, also a big name in contemporary Tibetan music.

Both songs share the same topic of unity amongst Tibetans but are markedly different in style. Whilst these two songs indicate that Tibetan identity and unity amongst all Tibetans were themes in songs both before and after the turbulent year for Tibetans with the protests of 2008, “Mentally Return” is the more cautious of the two songs in terms of the way the messages of the song are conveyed and the lyrics are arguably even more powerful and poetic in their subtlety. For example, in “Mentally Return”, the word “Tibet” (in Tibetan, bod) is never mentioned and instead, Tibet is referred to as the “bountiful land on the roof of the world” or the “Land of Snows”. The metaphor of the Tibetan circle dance is used to indicate unity and Tibet is also called both the fatherland and the mother – a place of comfort with the feeling of home. Tellingly, the singers are also from various parts of this “bountiful land”, Yadong, Kunga and Tsewang are from Kham and Gangshuk is from Amdo. Their places of origin in themselves are at odds with the map – none of them are from the place marked today as “Tibet” (Xizang in Chinese, known by Tibetans as U-Tsang, central Tibet).

On the other hand, Sherten’s 2010 song “The Sound of Unity” directly addresses “Tibetans” and boldly uses politically loaded phrases and words such as “three provinces”, “nation” and “freedom” – all studiously avoided by “Mentally Return” but implied nonetheless. Whereas “Mentally Return” inferred a unity that was related to an inner geography, “The Sound of Unity” literally calls on Tibetans traditionally of all three provinces Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang to unite and to draw strength from each other.

The turbulent events of 2008 have clearly made a direct impact on the cultural production of Tibetans and in particular with Tibetan artists and singers. One example is the CD “Torture Without Trace” by another Amdo singer Tashi Dhondup” that High Peaks Pure Earth featured in March 2010 and for which he received a 15 month re-education through labour prison sentence.

There is much more that can be said about these two songs and High Peaks Pure Earth invites readers to contribute thoughts and analysis. We also apologise for the poor picture quality of Sherten’s music video. If any reader knows of a better quality video online, please let us know.

*Thank you to the reader who wrote in to tell us that the performance took place in July 2006 and not over Losar 2007 as we had first written! [Amended September 30, 2010]

Below are the music videos and the translated lyrics:

 

Mentally Return
(Translation by High Peaks Pure Earth)

Lyrics: Drug Gyal
Tune: Tashi Dorje
Singers: Yadong, Gangzhung, Kunga and Tsewang
Director: Tharchin
Dancers: Qinghai Nationalities Dance Troupe

Its snow-capped mountains are the heavenly ramparts
Its pure blue rivers are the shimmering ornaments of the sun and the moon
Its vast meadows and pastures are the beds of the stars
This holy land situated close to zenith of the sky
This bountiful land on the roof of the world
Are these are our fatherland, the Land of Snows!

Oh Great Mother, the Land of Snows
I’ve come for the cosy warmth of your loving care
And today I sing a song in your lap

Oh great Mother, the Land of Snows
This is a song of auspiciousness taught by you
This is a gift for having traversed across my fatherland!

The six migratory beings are our kind parents
Non-violence and peace are our mental wealth
Bravery, wisdom and heroism are the strength of our heart
The nationality who inhabit this Land of Snows
The first people to settle here and exercise ownership
Are us, the ruddy faced Tibetans of the Land of Snows

Oh Tibetan brothers and sisters
We’ve come missing your profound love and friendship
Today, in your presence we dance in joy!

Oh Tibetan brothers and sisters
This is the circle dance of unity taught by you
This is a gift to celebrate the reunion of brethrens

Oh Tibetan brothers and sisters
Oh Tibetan brothers and sisters
This is the circle dance of unity taught by you

This is a gift to celebrate the reunion of brethrens
This is a gift to celebrate the reunion of brethrens
This is a gift to celebrate the reunion of brethrens

The Sound of Unity by Sherten
(Translation by High Peaks Pure Earth)

Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang all belong to the same family
We have a common destiny

Let’s all blossom together like flowers
Hand in hand in harmony

Hand in hand in harmony
Let’s step forwards

If you care about the future of our nationality
All three provinces should unite

Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang all belong to the same family
We have a common destiny

Tibetans of the land of snows
Unite as one!

Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang all belong to the same family
We have a common destiny

Hand in hand in harmony
Let’s step forwards

 

“The Sound of Unity”

Lyrics: Taglha Gye
Music: Dubey
Singer: Sherten

If we care about the well-being and the future of our nationality who are in despair
People from Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang, hold hands together in harmony, unite as one!

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
If you think of the sadness on the face of your father

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
If you think of the tears from the heart of your mother

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
Tibetans of the Land of Snows unite

We are the kin of the same parentage
We are the inheritors of a nation
O ruddy faced Tibetans

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
If you think of the months and years of joys and sorrows

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
Tibetans from all parts of the high plateau unite

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
If you think of the vista of the Land of Snows

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
Kindred, old or young, unite

We are the keepers of herds in the nomadic lands of the upper reaches
We are the farmers in the valleys of the low lying lands
O ruddy faced Tibetans

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
If you think of our destiny of tears and laughter

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
Three provinces unite

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
If you think of the peace and happiness of a life of freedom

O Tibetans!
Unite, unite
Young men and women unite

We are the messengers of the new era
We are the future inheritors of the land surrounded by snowy ranges
O ruddy faced Tibetans
 

3 Comments

  • Greetings High Peaks Pure Earth

    I follow your blog with much interest and appreciate the work you do by selecting and translating important texts from Tibet and China and pointing out significant developments. Kadrin ch!

    I wrote a comment about the Two Songs About Tibetan Unity you have kindly translated for us, and added some information from my perspective. I took the liberty to publish it on my blog as it wouldnt fit here. Suffice to say that songs bringing about a sense of identity among the rugged-faced folks seem to abound. Ain't that great?

    Best wishes
    Mountain Phoenix over Tibet

  • My best wishes of freedom for the people of the mountains of snow.
    Air of purity for so than misery and neglect!
    A culture can not live if it weakens … is to re-build and never the same again.
    Liberty …!
    …marichiwei !!

    Bernardo Riquelme O.