Jamyang Norbu

Jamyang Norbu

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Jamyang Norbu is a Tibetan political activist and writer, currently living in the United States, having previously lived for over 40 years as a Tibetan exile in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...



Norbu attented St. Joseph's School in Darjeeling, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. As a teenager, he dropped out of school and ran away from home to join the Tibetan guerrila group Chushi Gangdruk
Chushi Gangdruk
Chushi Gangdruk was an organization of Tibetan guerrilla fighters who attempted to overthrow the rule of the People's...

, which operated from Mustang
Mustang (kingdom)
Mustang is the former Kingdom of Lo and now part of Nepal, in the north-central part of that country, bordering the People's Republic of China on the Tibetan plateau between the Nepalese provinces of Dolpo and Manang...

 in Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

. He was the creator of Tibetans-in-exile taxation system, or the Green Book
Green Book (Tibetan document)
Green Book is a document issued since 1971 by the Central Tibetan Administration to Tibetans living outside Tibet, and described by the issuing organization as "the most official document issued by the Tibetan Government in Exile." They are owned by more than 90 per cent of the Tibetan refugees...

, which has helped fund the exile government since 1972. Later he founded and directed the Amnye Machen Institute, Tibetan Centre for Advanced Studies, in Dharamsala
Dharamshala or Dharamsala is a city in northern India. It was formerly known as Bhagsu; it is the winter seat of government of the state of Himachal Pradesh and the district headquarters of the Kangra district....



Jamyang Norbu has been called a "radical
Political radicalism
The term political radicalism denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing value systems in fundamental ways...

", and by the People's Daily
People's Daily
The People's Daily is a daily newspaper in the People's Republic of China. The paper is an organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China , published worldwide with a circulation of 3 to 4 million. In addition to its main Chinese-language edition, it has editions in English,...

a "radical Tibetan separatist". His advocacy for complete Tibetan independence and criticism of the nonviolent "Middle Way" autonomy plan of the Central Tibetan Administration
Central Tibetan Administration
The Central Tibetan Administration , is an organisation based in India with the stated goals of "rehabilitating Tibetan refugees and restoring freedom and happiness in Tibet". It was established by the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959 shortly after his exile from Tibet...

 has led him to push for more "confrontational" methods.

Jamyang Norbu is also critical of the role of religion in the Tibetan exile community, and of its Western benefactors whom, he argues, see Tibetans one-dimensionally. He calls the "New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 perception of Tibet... that this even materialist west will be saved by the spiritualism of the Tibetan Buddhists" "total nonsense." He said of a scene from the American film
Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

 Seven Years in Tibet
Seven Years in Tibet
Seven Years in Tibet is an autobiographical travel book written by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer based on his real life experiences in Tibet between 1944 and 1951 during the Second World War and the interim period before the Communist Chinese People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in...

where Tibetan monks rescue earthworms from a construction site, that Tibetan viewers would find it ridiculous. In a 2005 article for the New Humanist
New Humanist
New Humanist is a monthly magazine published by the Rationalist Association in the UK. It has been in print for 125 years; starting out life as Watts's Literary Guide, founded by C. A. Watts in November 1885....

, he recalled an outbreak of rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic , most commonly by a bite from an infected animal. For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms...

 in 1983 Dharamsala: when he advocated that a Tibetan woman get a rabies shot instead of seeing a shaman, he was shunned in the community as a "nonbeliever." He lamented, "We are frankly, a people still in thrall to ignorance and superstition, which far from declining with the years seems to be gaining new life and impetus with foreign sponsorship and encouragement."


Norbu has written several books and theater pieces in English and in Tibetan. Illusion and Reality, a collection of his political essays, was published in 1989. In 2000 he received the Hutch Crossword Book Award for The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes
The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes
The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes is a non-canonical Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel by Jamyang Norbu, originally published in India in 1999....

. The book was published in the U.S. in 2001, first under the title Sherlock Holmes - The Missing Years, and fills in the gap in 1891 when Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger...

 temporarily killed off Holmes. In the book, Holmes joins Huree Chunder Mookerjee, another fictional spy who last worked for the English in Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

's Kim
Kim (novel)
Kim is a picaresque novel by Rudyard Kipling. It was first published serially in McClure's Magazine from December 1900 to October 1901 as well as in Cassell's Magazine from January to November 1901, and first published in book form by Macmillan & Co. Ltd in October 1901...


Books In English by Jamyang Norbu

  • Buying the Dragon's Teeth, High Asia Press, 2004, ISBN 0-9755371-0-5
  • Warriors of Tibet: The Story of Aten and the Khampas' Fight for the Freedom of Their Country (originally titled Horseman in the Snow), Wisdom, 1987, Wisdom Pub. , ISBN 0-861-71050-9.
  • The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, Bloomsbury USA, 2003, ISBN 1-582-34328-4.
  • Illusion and reality, Tibetan Youth Congress
    Tibetan Youth Congress
    The Tibetan Youth Congress is an international non-governmental organization that advocates the independence of Tibet from China. With around 30,000 members in the Tibetan diaspora, it is the largest of the pro-independence organizations of Tibetan exiles...

    , 1989.