Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.

After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.

I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme.

26 December 2016

Remember Damchoe Sangpo February 17 2012

For Damchoe Sangpo, 38 yrs old monastic official of Bongthak Monastery, who self immolated
in Themchen country, Eastern Amdo (Tsonub Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture at present), Tibet on February 17 2012.
He was a member of Bongthak Monastery's Democratic Management Committee, the government established body that runs the monastery.

The report says he died after setting himself ablaze after monks were banned from marking a  Monlam prayer ceremony, while other sources reported that he had objected to a rigorous "patriotic education" campaign at his monastery.

He studied at Drepung Monastery in South India in the 1990s.  He served as a religious teacher after his return to Bongthak Monastery.

The photo of him came out to the exile side along with the sad news was taken in front of Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India, where Buddha is said to have been enlightened under the holy Bodhi tree.

I wonder what was his life like after his return from the 'democratic' country,  where teachings of his belief and practice were vibrantly alive,  he could receive much blessing, and he could  breath air of freedom.