Tibet Mirror

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Tibet Mirror
TypeMonthly newspaper
Owner(s) Gergan Dorje Tharchin
Founded1925;98 years ago (1925)
Political alignment Anti-communist
Headquarters Kalimpong, India

The Tibet Mirror (Tibetan : ཡུལ་ཕྱོགས་སོ་སོའི་གསར་འགྱུར་མེ་ལོང, Wylie : yul phyogs so so'i gsar 'gyur gyi me long, ZYPY : Yulchog Soseu Sargyour Mélong) was a Tibetan-language newspaper published in Kalimpong, India, from 1925 to 1963 [1] [2] and circulated primarily in Tibet but eventually with subscribers worldwide. Its originator was Gergan Tharchin who was at the same time its journalist, editor, and manager.



Creation (1925)

In 1925, The Tibet Mirror (Melong) was founded at Kalimpong in West Bengal. After The Ladakh Journal (Ladakh Kyi Akbar), it is the second Tibetan language newspaper to have been started. Its founder was one Gergan Dorje Tharchin, a Tibetan of Christian denomination who was a pastor at Kalimpong, at the time a border town that acted as a centre for the wool trade between Tibet and India. He was born in 1890 in the village of Poo (Wylie: spu) in Himachal Pradesh, he had been educated by Moravian missionaries. [3] [4] Nevertheless, there was no article attempting to proselytise in the newspaper. [3]

Periodicity and circulation

Published on a monthly basis, the journal first came out in October 1925 under the title Yulchog Sosoi Sargyur Melong (Mirror of News from All Sides of the World) ). [5] All 50 copies that were printed were sent to Gergan Tharchin's friends in Lhasa, including one for the 13th Dalai Lama who sent a letter encouraging him to continue with the publication and became an ardent reader. (The 14th Dalai Lama was to inherit the subscription.) [6]

Gergan Tharchin

Tharchin was at the same time journalist, chief editor and publisher. He would select the news from the newspapers of which he was a subscriber, and translate them into Tibetan for the journal. [7] He had assigned to himself the goals of awakening Tibetans to the modern world and opening up Tibet to the outside world. [8] The journal reported on what went on in the world (the Chinese Revolution, the Second World War, the independence of India, etc.) but also and above all in India, Tibet and Kalimpong itself [9]


Despite its minuscule circulation, the journal exerted a huge influence on a small circle of Tibetan aristocrats, as well as on a smaller circle of reformists. [10] As the journal was an advocate of Tibet's independence, Tharchin's place became a meeting place for Tibetan nationalists and reformists anxious to modernise their country facing China's imminent return. [11]

Tharchin was in close touch with the British intelligence agents operating out of Kalimpong, a town that was a nest of political intrigue involving spies from India and China, refugees from Tibet, China, India and Burma, plus Buddhist scholars, monks, and lamas. He was acquainted with Hisao Kimura, a Japanese secret agent who had visited Mongolia on an undercover mission for the Japanese government, then travelled across Tibet to gather intelligence for the United Kingdom [12]

In the 1950s, the Chinese Communists attempted to woo Tharchin through a Tibetan aristocrat who requested him not to publish anymore "anti-Chinese" article, and to concentrate instead on the "progress" made by China in Tibet, against the promise of a Chinese order of 500 copies of the newspaper, and the assurance not to go bankrupt. Tharchin refused. [3]

Demise (1963)

The Tibet Mirror ceased publication in 1963 [1] [2] after the exiled Tibetans brought out their first newspaper – Tibetan Freedom – started by Gyalo Thondup [3] from Darjeeling [13] Besides, Tharchin was too old to continue publication. He died in 1976 [14]

In 2005, the small house where The Tibet Mirror was based is still standing on the Giri road, with a sign board reading "The Tibet Mirror Press, Kalimpong, Estd. 1925" in English, Tibetan and Hindi [15]

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  1. 1 2 "Yul phyogs so soʾi gsar ʾgyur me loṅ". www.columbia.edu. Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  2. 1 2 "Tibet Mirror | Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library". beinecke.library.yale.edu. Archived from the original on 10 April 2015. Retrieved 29 August 2017. Tibet Mirror A digital archive of the Tibetan-language newspaper, published from 1925 to 1963.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Thubten Samphel, Virtual Tibet: The Media, in Exile as challenge: the Tibetan diaspora (Dagmar Bernstorff, Hubertus von Welck eds), Orient Blackswan, 2003, 488 pages, especially pages 172-175 - ISBN   81-250-2555-3, ISBN   978-81-250-2555-9.
  4. Lobsang Wangyal, The Tibet Mirror: The first Tibetan newspaper, now only a memory, Lobsang Wangyal's personal site, 12 May 2005.
  5. Lobsang Wangyal, op. cit.: Yulchog Sosoi Sargyur Melong (Mirror of News from All Sides of the World) was the original Tibetan name of the Tibet Mirror. The first issue of the newspaper came out in October 1925. The issues came out at irregular intervals.
  6. Lobsang Wangyal, op. cit.: Of the fifty initial copies, most were sent to his friends in Lhasa, including one to the 13th Dalai Lama. The 13th Dalai Lama became an ardent reader of the paper and encouraged Tharchin to continue with the publication (...). The current 14th Dalai Lama inherited the subscription of the late 13th.
  7. Lobsang Wangyal, op. cit.: "It was my grandfather who did all the work of the newspaper. He selected the news from the newspapers he subscribed to and translated them for the paper."
  8. Lobsang Wangyal, op. cit.: Tharchin (...) made much effort to report on affairs of the world, to educate Tibetans and to encourage the opening up of Tibet to the changing modern world.
  9. Thubten Samphel, op. cit., p. 173: The Mirror published articles on world events and especially reported what was taking place in India, Tibet and in the region of Kalimpong.
  10. Thubten Samphel, op. cit., p. 173: Despite its minuscule circulation, the impact of Tibbet Mirror, though confined to a small circle of Tibetan aristocrats and an even smaller circle of Tibetan reformists (...) was enormous.
  11. Thubten Samphel, op. cit., pages 173 and 175: Tibetan nationalists, scholars and dissidents held regular conclaves at Babu Tharchin's place to discuss how Tibet could best avoid the gathering political storm, Tharchin Babu and the office of Tibet Mirror became the meeting point of intellectuals and reformists who wanted to modernize Tibet so that it would effectively counter the challenges posed by a resurgent China.
  12. Barun Roy, op. cit. : In the late 1940s, Kalimpong (...) could be rightly described as a nest of political intrigue, involving British, Indian and Chinese spies, refugees from Tibet, China, India and Burma, with a sprinkling of Buddhist scholars, monks and lamas.
  13. Thubten Samphel, op. cit., p. 175: Tibet Mirror ceased publication in 1962 when the Tibetan refugees brought out their own newspaper called Tibetan Freedom from neighbouring Darjeeling.
  14. Lobsang Wangyal, op. cit.: the paper came to an end in 1962, and Tharchin died in 1976. "My grandfather was getting too old to continue the paper" .
  15. Lobsang Wangyal, op. cit.: "The Tibet Mirror Press; Established 1925", reads the sign board on the crumbling tinned house (...) on Giri road.

Further reading