The Third International Conference on Tibetan Language is dedicated to the memory of three Tibetan Scholars who played a fundamental role in supporting the continuity of Tibetan culture.
Tseten Zhabdrung (1910-1985), or Yangden Rikpé Döjo, was born in the Yadzikar region. At the age of six, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the first Tseten Zhabdrung. He was ordained at seven and studied both religious and secular subjects with famous scholars, including Alak Jikmé Damchö Gyatso, and he too became famous. In the 1950s, the government of the People’s Republic of China invited him to work; he took this opportunity to teach Tibetan language and literature, as well as edit and publish Tibetan books. Through these works he provided a critical contribution to the continuation of Tibetan language and literature. He was imprisoned for nine years during the Cultural Revolution. In 1978, he was released and invited to Northwest University for Nationalities where, through teaching and writing, he played an important role in reviving Tibetan language and literature after the Cultural Revolution. His collected works were published in 13 volumes, including “The Teachings of Thönmi” ( ཐོན་མིའི་ཞལ་ལུང། ) and “The Speech of Thönmi” ( ཐོན་མིའི་བཞད་སྒྲ། ).
Muge Samten (1914-1993) was born in Sokporu Village in Ngawa (Aba). He was ordained at the age of eleven. He studied the five volumes of Buddhist scripture and the common subjects, first at Muge Monastery and then at Labrang Trashi Khyil Monastery. In 1950, following the advice of Gungthang Tenpé Wangchuk, he went to Beijing to work as a proofreader for the Mi dmangs brnyan par. During the 1950s, Muge Samten worked hard to preserve Tibetan language by means of editing Tibetan newspapers, compiling Tibetan textbooks, and selecting new terminology for Chinese and Tibetan dictionaries. He was subjected to numerous struggle sessions and sentenced to hard labor during the Cultural Revolution. In 1973, he was cleared and returned to work on Tibetan language. From 1978 on, he led Tibetan grammar training workshops, a critical step in reviving Tibetan language amongst the Tibetans of Sichuan. In 1978, he criticized “Rtsa ,dzin”, a government document that spelled out the policy of reforming Tibetan language. He also made great contributions to the teaching of traditional Tibetan grammar, poetics, astrology and Sanskrit transliteration.
Dungkar Lozang Trinlé (1927-1997) was born in the Nyingtri area of Kongpo. At the age of five, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama recognized him as the reincarnation of the Seventh Dungkar and he was enthroned in Trashi Chöling. In 1947, at the age of 20, Dungkar Lozang Trinlé received the Lharampa Geshe degree. In 1951, he obtained the highest degree in tantric studies. After completing his degrees in religious studies, Dungkar Lobsang Trinlé studied secular subjects for five years. In 1960, the government invited him to Beijing to teach at Minzu University of China. During the Cultural Revolution, he was sentenced to ten years of hard labor. In 1978, he was rehabilitated and invited to return to teach at Minzu University of China. Through teaching and writing, he contributed greatly to reviving Tibetan language and literature. His works comprise seven volumes, including the Dungkar Dictionary.