A Song from Prison

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated the lyrics to a song that were originally written in Tibetan in May 2008 by a monk from Lhasa’s Drepung Monastery during his incarceration in Gormu (Golmud) in Qinghai Province.
Following the protests in Lhasa that started on 10th March 2008 and the subsequent unrest all over Tibet, Radio Free Asia reported that 675 Tibetan monks from Lhasa’s three main monasteries were put on a train from Lhasa on April 25th 2008 and transported to a military detention centre in Gormu. The Times put the figure of detained monks at over 1000. The monks were mainly from the three seats of learning in Lhasa that the poem refers to – Sera, Ganden and Drepung monasteries.
The verses are written to the tune of popular a Amdo folk song called ‘Shertan’ and are full of sadness and grief. The lyrics use the common metaphors of referring to the Dalai Lama as the triple gem and the sun.
Listen to the song ‘Shertan’ here.
A Chinese translation along with photos of the deserted monasteries are here on Woeser’s blog.
The verse in the original Tibetan was posted on the major Tibetan-language diaspora website Khabdha and can be found here.

The verse in the original Tibetan as posted by Khabdha.org

The three seats of Sera, Drepung and Ganden,
Are struck by the vapour of the poisonous snake,
Because of this sea of adverse circumstance,
There’s no right to diligently study the scriptural texts.
O Triple Gem! Kindly guide and protect us!
O Triple Gem! Come forth with speed.
Since the chance for the Mandala of the trichilliocosmic Sun,
Shining through the windows of the prison cell,
Is well-nigh impossible,
The weary gloom of anguish has set in.
O Sun! Come forth with speed!
O Sun! We cannot wait much longer!
My karmic destiny shaped in past lives,
Has rendered this youth a victim of circumstance.
In the Three Seats of learning of the U-Tsang region,
There’s no freedom of movement.
O Karmic Destiny!
Grant us good fortune!
Highlighting the well known state of affairs,
We await freedom of movement!


  1. Say, did the song mention the 5 shopgirls that were torched alive by the rioters? Just curious.

  2. High Peaks Pure Earth

    Yes, interestingly almost all Tibetan posts regarding those who died during last year’s protests refer to “all those lost their lives” and do not single out one ethnic group.

  3. Pingback: High Peaks Pure Earth – “Prostrating Before the Most Revered Monks Who Have Faced Great Difficulties” By Woeser

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