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Future Connector: Namgyal Lhagyari

June 24th, 2010
05:08 PM ET

Born and raised in India, Namgyal Wangchuk Trichen Lhagyari is the only direct descendent of the first Dharma king of Tibet, who was crowned in 617 AD.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/24/tibet.art.bykids.jpg
caption="Namgyal Lhagyari is your Connector of the Day."]

As part of the Tibetan royal family, the 17-year-old has spent all his life in exile.

In June 2004, Namgyal was coronated during a ceremony presided over by Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

He is celebrated for being the descendant of the great Kings of Tibet.

Namgyal has just finished his high-school education and is about to head for a university in the United States.

However, before he furthered his education, Namgyal wanted to tell the story of the Tibetan people through their eyes.

As a result he has been working alongside the BYkids non-profit organization – which aims to match the world’s youth with experienced filmmakers to cover globally relevant issues.

It has led to the production of "My Country Tibet,” a new documentary in which Namgyal, who conducted his own interviews, speaks with Tibetans about how they live their lives and balance their religion with their sense of identity.

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Jurgen R. Brul

    Hello Namgyal Lhagyari and CNN friends,

    I would like an answer from Namgyal Lhagyari on the following questions:
    – What needs to be done to Improve the Human Rights of Tibetans in the Republic of China?
    – What needs to be done to improve the Fashion Industry in Tibet?
    – How has the famous Indian writer Mallanaga Vātsyāyana, also a well know Indian author of the Kama Sutra and a Dharma believer, inspired your life?
    – Who will win the South Africa World Cup?
    – What can we expect from you in 2010?
    – How are you inspiring people all over the world to make our world a Better Healthier and Beautiful Place?

    I am awaiting Namgyal Lhagyari’s replies.

    Jurgen R. Brul
    Hometown: Paramaribo
    Country: Suriname

    June 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Reply
  2. Zack Malina

    Greetings Namgyal Lhagyari, Tashi Delek

    Is your position as royalty (king) of Tibet, as recognized by HH the Dalai Lama religious, secular or executive? Do you play a role alongside His Holiness' in decisions for gov't?

    With regard to censorship we receive regarding China's control over Tibet;, do you have message for Tibetans still in Tibet, and those in exile for promoting and maintaining hopes for the Tibetan Culture and seeking equality for human rights and freedoms?

    What is your message and hope for Tibetans in exile to spread seeds of peace, love, and compassion?

    What do you do in free time?

    Who will be the religious temporal leader of Tibet after His Holiness the Dalai Lama?

    Thank you, Tashi Delek
    Atlanta, GA

    June 24, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  3. Youbetcha

    I would like to know how a 17 year old exiled tibetan boy can retell the story of Tibet 'through their eyes.' but give it a shot, im sure it will be rivetting.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  4. James Perry Thomas

    Hello Namgyal. i am a descendent of Native Americans, who have overcome alot of the oppression they suffered some years ago, but they still seem lost, as many of their Tribal customs fade away. i would like to know how you intend to deal with Beijing and heavyhanded actions in your region. it seems to me that your people are Oppressed in alot of ways, as well. i would also like to know if the new generation of Tibetans are clinging to the Old ways or are you seeing alot them being influenced by modern technology and ways of thinking. all my best to you and your wonderful, beautiful country.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Reply
  5. W. E. Gutman

    What are your views on monarchy? Do you agree with the widely held opinion that royalty is an anachronism and an obscenity that should be dissolved? Other than tradition and decoration, what possible purpose can a king serve?

    June 24, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  6. frank

    do u love china

    are u going to be in china

    do u think Tibet is a part of China

    June 25, 2010 at 12:48 am | Reply
  7. Otto Kerner

    I don't mean to be overly critical, but has anyone done any fact-checking on this? Trichen seems to be a nice young man, but since when does Tibet have a king? The only report I can find of his "enthronement" is this one from Phayul: http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=7181&t=1 , and it certainly doesn't say anything about him being enthroned "as king". It says, "His Holiness blessed the descendant of one of the greatest Kings of Tibet with Tibetan traditional scarves." The Lhagyari family are traditionally local potentates in southern Tibet, which is why they traditionally have the title Trichen or "Great Throne (holder)" - the fact that this young man was enthroned certainly doesn't mean he was crowned king of Tibet.

    The statement that Trichen "is the only direct descendant of the first Dharma king of Tibet" doesn't make sense logically. Kings and nobles often have lots of children, and after a many generations (the first dharma king was approximately 45 generations ago) they will have an enormous number of descendants. Trichen's family is descended from the first Tibetan royal house, but that is a dynasty that hasn't produced a reigning king since 841! There was, in fact, a more recent line of Tibetan kings, the Phagmodru dynasty (1354-1616), as well as a brief dynasty of Mongol kings of Tibet which ruled at least in name until the early 18th century.

    I am a strong supporter of self-determination for Tibet, but I am dubious about the benefits of this king business. This being the case, I am curious to know Trichen's answers to the following questions:

    1) Does the Dalai Lama recognise Namgyal Wangchuk Lhagyari Trichen as the king of Tibet?

    2) How widely known is the institution of the Lhagyari king in Tibet? In other words, are most Tibetans aware that they have a royal family and a claimant to the throne?

    3) Given that a) the traditional Tibetan form of government prior to the PRC period was rule by the Dalai Lama, not rule by a hereditary king; b) the current Dalai Lama has stated very consistently that Tibet should be governed democratically, with a republican form of government; and c) on the other hand, Chinese propaganda emphasises modernisation and the overthrow of feudal institutions - how does having an exile "king of Tibet" benefit the struggle for freedom in Tibet?

    June 25, 2010 at 12:52 am | Reply
  8. barry654

    what would you say to those innocents killed in Tibetan riot by
    thugs who smashing buildings,cars etc.

    June 25, 2010 at 1:18 am | Reply
  9. Kang Wen

    How can the reinstatement of feudal and monarchical governmental systems be justified in the twenty-first century? Leaving aside the current political system in place in Tibet, how would a return to heriditary control, and presumably also to the centralisation of power in the hands of a ruling class of 'noble' families, as was previously the case, bring material benefit to the ordinary people?

    June 25, 2010 at 1:24 am | Reply
  10. Azka Shanton

    What university are you going to?

    June 25, 2010 at 2:59 am | Reply
  11. Hunter Yuan

    I'd like to know your attitude towards the relation between China and Tibet ,Peace and violence ,just see what you called hero or freedom fighter done in 2008.!!!You order so many bad things .You all will be punished one day.

    June 25, 2010 at 3:07 am | Reply
  12. john

    Why are you "heading for a university in the United States" instead of one say in New Zealand or Australia?

    June 25, 2010 at 3:19 am | Reply
  13. henry

    hope the guy is a normal person, not a brain washed one, live and work in india peacefully, bringing positive aspect to his community. pls keep in mind, no matter what in future, wether it is ruled by the so-called communist body or not, tibet has the most slightest chance to be installed what mr. namgyal lhagyari/or dalai larma maybe wishing for.

    tibet is going to be continueing the current modernization. people have a better living condition, and pls come to share the good time, and maybe some wise suggestions, but no need for any disturbance, no thanks.

    i believe one day the political system of china will be a more democratic one, and it is improving for the time being.

    June 25, 2010 at 4:11 am | Reply
  14. Nahomi Dhinakar

    I remember my Tibetian classmates in Bangalore in the mid 70s. Sometimes they would be crying in class. Homesick probably. They were only about seven to ten years old, terribly far from home and their mothers. I salute the Tibetian people for staying strong. No questions to ask, just wish them well.

    June 25, 2010 at 4:18 am | Reply
  15. shrikant gosai

    Why you people not taking up Gandhian way of Satyagrah to get your rights?

    June 25, 2010 at 4:34 am | Reply
  16. JP Buckner

    Namgyal is meant to be a spiritual leader, not a feudal monarch. It is unfortunate the questions displayed do not show any cultural appreciation or knowledge of the Tibetan history. My wish for Namgyal is that he gains strength and wisdom, as all leaders need, in difficult times.

    June 25, 2010 at 4:48 am | Reply
  17. S.Krishnan

    Greetings! How long the struggle to liberate Tibet from China would continue? People in Tibet have been brutalized by China over past 50yrs and cultural centers, libraries, pagodas and all that represents Tibetian culture and heritage has been systematically vandalized and being erased.

    With Dalai Lama in a semi retired state......who would lead the Tibetian liberation movement? Or do you agree with Tibet to remain forcibly merged with China?


    June 25, 2010 at 5:39 am | Reply
  18. E.

    A royal family representing all of a nation's people can be a strong and important national symbol, especially in the face of struggles. I think both the King and the Dalai Lama are crucial elements of the Tibetan spirit.

    I have no questions, but I want to wish you all the best and I hope that one day you will be able to see your beautiful country with your own eyes. I look forward to seeing your documentary.

    June 25, 2010 at 6:32 am | Reply
  19. Barun Adhikary

    I would like to ask Namgyal Lhagyari how does he sees the deadlock in Tibet unraveling. Whether he supports greater autonomy within China or is he for full independence.

    The other question is how does he feel staying a refugees life when he actually happens to be the king of his kingdom gobbled up by their wicked neighbor.

    Barun Adhikary
    Delhi, India

    June 25, 2010 at 6:57 am | Reply
  20. dilip

    How will you revive the struggle for freedom

    June 25, 2010 at 7:20 am | Reply
  21. Francis Cagney

    I would like to second Kang Wen's question. China's totalitarian oppression after invading Tibet is disgraceful. But by all accounts things weren't much better previously, with a rich powerful religious caste, kept in luxury by impoverished serfs.

    June 25, 2010 at 7:48 am | Reply
  22. Lauren

    I would like to ask Namgyal Lhagyari what he thinks could be done to ensure that the local Tibetan people profit from tourism in his country. As a trekker and climber who has spent time in the beautiful Tibetan mountains and villages, I would like to know how much of the money that travellers spend reaches those who deserve it most and that it does not simply become absorbed into China's economy. I would also like to know what steps Namgyal Lhagyari thinks could be taken to achieve Tibetan sovereignty .

    June 25, 2010 at 8:07 am | Reply
  23. Dana R.

    What is it like to be the spiritual leader of a deeply traditional people and culture while simultaneously being a teenager and preparing to go to college in America? What kind of conflicts arise from this intersection? How do you find the balance between your personal wishes for yourself and the wishes of your people from you, as their leader?
    Also, what is your favorite food?

    Thuchi che!

    Dana R.

    June 25, 2010 at 8:32 am | Reply
  24. Boreno

    I'm Chinese, living in China, but I grew up in the USA. I worked as a reporter for a French news paper on various topics and one so happened to be Tibet and the Dali Lama. I'm sure you know about the abduction of Tibetan children by the Chinese Government in order for them to be educated in China, learn the Chinese way of thinking, and then replaced back to Tibet so potentially one day the Dali Lama will be Chinese educated and secede Tibet to China.

    My question is, what are you going to do to stop this from happening, because the rate of abductions are increasing and sooner or later, when the Dali Lama passes the chances the next Dali Lama will be Chinese educated is very high. When that happens, all is lost for Tibet's sovereignty.

    I really hope Tibet does not fall under Chinese Rule. It is a beautiful country, and though most tourists do not see the real Tibetan people( most Tibetans on tours are actually strategically placed Chinese) if you have ever escaped your guide and met the people, you will find a lot of oppression and unbreakable hope.

    June 25, 2010 at 9:23 am | Reply
  25. Edward

    Do you ever fear that your life is in danger?

    How do average Chinese people react when they see and meet you? Do you ever try to discuss the Tibet situation with them?

    June 25, 2010 at 10:06 am | Reply
  26. rtellis83

    @Youbetcha since you are an uneducated ignoramous, I will answer your question: Tibet is not recognized and is persecuted by China, therefore to be Tibetan is to exiled. SOOOO,if you are not exiled then you are not with the Tibet people, and therefore can not tell the story of Tibet through their eyes. Now, go back to school, thanks.

    June 25, 2010 at 10:30 am | Reply
  27. peter

    Hello King Nyamgal, If you would ever wish to film the children of Cambodia, paedophile capital of the east, to tell their story, please contact me. I am married to a Cambodian woman and we have a non-profit that works in that country. Peter Spano, 98 Rockaway Rd. Falmouth, Me. 04105 USA

    June 25, 2010 at 11:17 am | Reply
  28. Rebecca

    Are you kidding?

    1) Tibet is not a country.

    2) It will be interesting to hear about Tibet through a 17-year old, in exile. Presumably he has not lived there, and his idea will be based on his biased opinions taught by generations prior.

    3) As for Dalai Lamai – he's a famemonger, courting rock stars, selling out his people, and amassing power and kudos to himself in the process.

    I am American Chinese, I have been to Tibet, not on guided tour. Stop getting all your information from sensational Western media.

    p.s. I spent time in Afghanistan myself and it was nothing like the way Western media portrayed it. Make up your own mind people.

    June 25, 2010 at 11:35 am | Reply
  29. Ken

    What year is this now, how can people be so stupid to recognize a boy to be king?

    Wake up people, and let the boy to be a boy, not power and fame hunger person's puppet.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  30. Dave

    Get a life and some new glasses. This article isn't about His Holiness.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  31. Keira

    My question is: What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the people of Tibet right now? Also, why do you think that Tibetans have kept a deep sense of religion when the world seems to be moving in a more secular direction?

    Thank you & good luck in college (or university).


    June 28, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  32. khanning

    hello Trichen,

    Thank You for making Outstanding short documentary film called My Country Tibet. I am very touched!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God bless You.
    We are convinced that Tibet was an independant country before 1959.

    Even the chinese peoples are treated like animals by their own government. The whole world has the vivid memories of Tiananman square massacre in 1989, repression on Falung Gong practitioners, and endless to add...

    The great person like His Holiness the Dalia Lama and Trichen are like a shower of Sunshine. wherever they visit, give people hope in these dark days.

    We support the tibetan people for their struggle against the chinese occupation as the citizens of the world


    June 30, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Reply

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