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Sanjor v/s Sarjor
Tashi Wangchuk

I pondered several times before submitting this article to the beautiful and timely magazine of Himalayan community of New York and New Jersey. ‘Is it going to help or harm our society if I highlight this issue openly in the public forum?’ I thought. After evaluating pros and cons in my mental beam balance, finally the green signal in my brain flashes and said, ‘Tashi let us do it. Let us do it to stop the urgent red signal that will disintegrate every Tibetans eventually’.

It is high time that we Tibetans in exile should reconstruct many of our ideologies and way of thinking for the betterment of our future and our society. Be it our approach to free/autonomous Tibet, the trend of Tibetan immigration to the west counting it as a negative move or our newly arrived Tibetan brothers and sisters from Tibet labeling them as second class people in our society by calling them ‘Sanjor’. Do we really deserve to be called ‘Gandharwa’ (meaning higher and blessed beings in Sanskrit) by the scholars of Indian sub-continent in the ancient times? Of course not, at least at this point of time.

My heart cries in blood when I see some of our exile Tibetans labeling our recently arrived brothers and sisters from Tibet as ‘Sanjor’ and looking down upon them. Of course, I am not saying that everyone in our exile community carries the same notion that many half boiled Tibetans in exile do. A good majority of our populace still realizes and feels for the recently arrived Tibetans from

Tibet – our blessed brothers and sisters in true sense for they are the real Gandharwa who lived and survived on the heavenly nectar of blissful Avalokishrawa’s plateau. Unfortunately like every human societies on this planet, ours is also no exception to the evils of disintegrating people on the numerous baseless grounds which we should address the issue at broader level.

Imagine someone who has been abused and deprived of very basic human right in his own country by someone- a total stranger, consequently crossing the snowy, lofty mountains bare footed several weeks in the hope of finding warm reception from his exiled brothers and sisters who abandoned him in the year 1959 yet hurting his sentiments all over again by labeling ‘SANJOR’ with contempt. It would be an immeasurably heartbreaking experience for these helpless brothers and sisters. More importantly our mindless attitude and gesture will bear serious consequences in our attempt in freeing Tibet from the clutches of giant uncle Dragon in the long run. It is SARJOR meaning ‘recently arrived’ and not ‘SANJOR’ that many of us address callously.

Our mundane and mindless attitude towards our Sarjor brothers and sisters comply to the very propaganda of Communist Chinese in their claim in the international community that that the Tibetans in Tibet are incapable of doing any progressive activities due to which Han people from West migrate to Tibet to help the local Tibetans. No doubt, the Chinese authority would cite our exile people’s approach towards Tibetans in Tibet as a testimony for their false and baseless claim over the centuries old Tibetan plateau.

Many Sarjor return Tibet with polluted mental picture of our exile community due to the callous gesture of some factions of our society and spread word in their local community in Tibet. Nyima (name changed), one of my Sarjor friends in New York City would say,

When I was in Tibet in my region of Kham, we considered Tibetans in Exile as someone worthy of inviting to the religious altar. Whenever someone from India visits Tibet, there are so many occasions where the native people seeks blessings with their bare hands for the former is blessed by HH the Dalai Lama in flesh and blood in exile. It is after visiting India and Nepal I learned for the first time that we are not given the duly respect by our exile brothers and sisters. The very heart breaking and ground reality further fueled my eagerness in immigrating to the US in the late nineties. After coming to the US, very rarely do I indulge in Tibetan gathering in NYC either during Losar or any other functions.’

When such is the mentality of our brothers and sisters in Tibet toward us (exile Tibetans), does it really make sense to label them ‘SANJOR’ in contempt? I also agree that some of the Tibetans from Tibet should be Chinese informers and be cautioned upon by every Tibetans in and out of Tibet. But the individual case should be dealt individually and shouldn’t be made an excuse to mask a whole faction of the community. They also risked their lives for a better future and religious freedom like all of us and our parents did in the 1959.

If not from human societies, at least learn from the animal kingdom as to how they live peacefully and harmoniously with one another. H. H the Dalai Lama very often expresses his deep concerns and urgency on the very issue. I still remember in Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts giving a special cultural show to our newly arrived brothers and sisters from Tibet during the last Kalachakra at Bodhgaya. I was the program announcer then.

For the first time in my entire life, I saw their reaction to the institute’s gesture in tears that choked my throat and consequently I had difficulty announcing the later parts of the program. (Imagine the whole crowd shedding tears in front of your naked eyes). Among the audience was a poor and destitute elderly woman, clad in tattered clothes. She was from Toeh region of Tibet. After the program, she came towards my desk flanked by our institute’s director. The woman puts her hand into her Chupa cabinet, takes out a folded and rugged piece of cloth. With her hands shaking violently, unfolds the cloth and takes out an Indian Rupees fifty note to be donated to TIPA for the preservation and promotion of our unique culture in exile. She muttered with tears in her eyes, ‘We confide in you that our holy land shall be freed one day. We are counting every single day to unite with His Holiness and our exile brothers and sisters.’

Tears kept rolling down her crisscrossed chicks. How were we supposed to advice her not to shed tears for we were also in tears? At that very moment, I realized that that our freedom struggle would be baseless and unfruitful if there is no support from the general mass in Tibet.

So, let us not alienate our own brothers and sisters from Tibet by giving them names. If not help, at least do not hurt their feelings. Time has come for all Tibetans to come together and fight for our common cause. People of Tibet, do not loose your heart for we are always with you for our eternal cause. Tibet was and will be a free nation under the supreme guidance of His Holiness and his exile government in India. Long live HH the Dalai Lama, Long live our Exile Government. Bod Gyalo!!!

Tashi Wangchuk is a film student at SUNY Buffalo.