Demystifying Tibetan vocabularies used by His Holiness


During Central Tibetan Administrations inauguration of Lobsang Sangay on Aug. 8th, 2011; there were some new Tibetan words used by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. I was able to get help from a friend who helped dispel some of my confusions.

For today’s Lhakar entry, I’d like to share what I learned from this friend.

After the Tsen Joel Bhoe Shung (Tibetan Government in Exile) changed its name to Bhoe Me Drik Tsuk (Central Tibetan Institution/Administration) we saw His Holiness referring to Lobsang Sangay as  Si Wang and no longer using the term Kalon Tripa. HH also referred to Tibetans not as Bod-pa but Gangchen Pa.

The meanings behind each word:

Kalon Tripa comes from the word “Kalon” which means “Ka yi Lon po”, the one who follows the orders from a higher authority. Since HH is no longer the political head, Lobsang Sangay is no longer a “Kalon”.

Si Wang means “Political Leader”, the one who holds the ultimate political authority. Reting Rinpoche and Taktra Rinpoche were referred to as “Si Wang” during the absence of the Dalai Lamas.

(Thanks to both Karma and Bhuchung for clarifying. HH actually used the word Si Kyong.)

Si Kyong, Si means “Politics” and Kyong means to “lead/run/administer” and together Si Kyong means “Political Leader”. The one who holds the ultimate political authority. His Holiness used this word to address Lobsang Sangay during the inauguration to acknowledge him as the “Political Leader” of the Central Tibetan Administration/ Institution.

Bod-pa was generally understood to mean those from Utsang. Tibetans from Lhasa are referred to as “Bod-pa” in places like Amdo and Tibetans in Lhasa referred those from Amdo as “Amdowa”. (Please check the comment section for more detailed and changing info on the word “Bod-pa”.

Before China’s invasion of Tibet, the Lhasa admin did not always have control over regions such as Kham. Khampas saw themselves to be distinct, this is a fact. The construction of the 3 regions as a united Tibet under Lhasa Gov. before China’s invasion is assumed, however, an Amdo/Kham historian may tell us a different story. All regions and places within them have their own pre-invasion history, however, in the contemporary context of Tibet, the unity of the 3 regions became solidified and is now true, when all three regions joined forces to fight one common enemy, China.)

Gangchen Pa means “People from the Land of Snow”. His Holiness has been using this terminology in addressing Tibetans.

This is all I have for now. I will update this info if I learn more. Please feel free to correct or share any extra information regarding the new political vocabularies being used. I hope this was helpful to you all as it has been for me. And a special thanks to that friend for helping me with this.