An inter­view with

Per Kværne

Pos­i­tion & Affil­i­ation: Pro­fess­or Emer­it­us of His­tory of Reli­gions, Uni­ver­sity of Oslo

Part 1 (Tran­script)

Date: May 11, 2017 in Oxford, United Kingdom
Inter­viewed by: Anna Sehnalova and Rachael Griffiths
Tran­script by: Rachael Griffiths

Part 2 (Video) [Com­ing soon]

Date: May 16, 2017 in Oxford, United Kingdom
Inter­viewed by: Anna Sehnalova and Rachael Griffiths

Cite this archive

Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. (2021, Decem­ber 2). An inter­view with Per Kværne. Retrieved 31 Janu­ary 2023, from
“An inter­view with Per Kværne.” Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies, 2 Dec. 2021,
Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. 2021. An inter­view with Per Kværne. [online], Avail­able at: [Accessed 31 Janu­ary 2023]
Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. “An inter­view with Per Kværne.” 2021, Decem­ber 2.

Dis­claim­er: The views and opin­ions expressed in this inter­view are those of the inter­viewee and do not neces­sar­ily rep­res­ent the offi­cial pos­i­tion of the Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies project.

List of Acronyms: PK= Per Kværne, IN= Inter­view­er

Family and background

IN:      We would like to start from your child­hood and from your early memor­ies. How was it grow­ing up as a child of a dip­lo­mat trav­el­ling around, grow­ing up in dif­fer­ent envir­on­ments, lan­guages, envir­on­ments, cul­tures, if it might have influ­enced your career in your way, or your think­ing? If you had any sib­lings? And how was your fam­ily life?

PK:     Well, this is a good Tibetan tra­di­tion, isn’t it? You go back to the cre­ation of the world and map out the four con­tin­ents and zoom in on the aus­pi­cious one, the one in the south and so on.

Very briefly told, my fath­er worked in the Nor­we­gi­an For­eign Ser­vice from just after the Second World War. I was actu­ally born dur­ing the war. I exper­i­enced five weeks of the war before the Ger­mans capit­u­lated in Nor­way on the 8th of May 1945, which was the very last place in Europe where they capit­u­lated. Of course, the war went on but that was with Japan.

I under­stood later that it was a rather tense peri­od because the Ger­mans had four hun­dred thou­sand sol­diers in Nor­way, out of a then pop­u­la­tion of slightly below four mil­lion. It was a huge occu­pa­tion force and that was not because of incess­ant par­tis­an activ­ity and so on, but it was because at one point Hitler had the idea that the Allied inva­sion might come, or part of it would come, in Nor­way. So, the Ger­mans built huge for­ti­fic­a­tions along the coast, and that’s how this became, I don’t know if it’s a well-known expres­sion, Fes­tung Nor­we­gen, the Nor­we­gi­an bul­wark against inva­sion from the Allies. But as it happened, they sur­rendered without a shot being fired, and what is more, they sur­rendered to the Nor­we­gi­an par­tis­an army and not to the Brit­ish, who were already in Oslo a couple of days before this actu­ally happened.

So that was also quite import­ant – that there was no trans­ition peri­od as such. But in the north, the Soviet army had driv­en out the Ger­mans already in the late autumn of 1944. So, that part of Nor­way was under Soviet occu­pa­tion, or not exactly occu­pa­tion, but the Soviet army was there for a short peri­od. Then it retired without any fuss or prob­lem. So that’s also part of our his­tory. We have always had good rela­tions with Rus­sia and later with the Soviet Uni­on and again with Rus­sia now.

Any­way, my fath­er was in the For­eign Ser­vice, so he was sent off to Wash­ing­ton, DC, to the Nor­we­gi­an embassy there in 1948. He went by aero­plane and – this is sort of get­ting a bit off the point but it’s quite inter­est­ing to think that he went by aero­plane because he was a dip­lo­mat and that meant fly­ing from Oslo to Prestwick in Scot­land, refuel­ling, fly­ing to Keflavik, Ice­land, refuel­ling, fly­ing to New­found­land, refuel­ling, and from there I think they flew either to New York or Wash­ing­ton, maybe New York, I’m not sure. Any­way, it took more than 24 hours. It was quite an expedition.

PK:     We came over by boat, the rest of the fam­ily – my sis­ter, myself, and my moth­er, and a Nor­we­gi­an house­maid. We came on the Swedish Amer­ic­an line because the Nor­we­gi­an one was­n’t oper­at­ing yet after the war, because the ships had been requisi­tioned for war ser­vice and they were in a pretty awful con­di­tion. So, I spent three years in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and in my last year I went to school there.

Then a very brief peri­od in Nor­way fol­lowed, just my sis­ter, moth­er and I, and then back to Canada, as my fath­er had been trans­ferred to Montreal. We spent almost two years in Montreal, and I atten­ded an Eng­l­ish-medi­um school there.

IN:      An inter­na­tion­al school?

PK:     No. In Montreal, at that time at least, there were neigh­bour­hoods that were Eng­l­ish- speak­ing, and then the rest was French. But this was an Eng­l­ish-medi­um school, it was just a loc­al school, not an inter­na­tion­al school.

Then we spent almost three years in Nor­way. Then again, my fath­er was pos­ted as the Nor­we­gi­an con­sul in Glas­gow. That was 1955, and from 1955 to 1959, we lived there. That was a very import­ant and form­at­ive peri­od in my life. I had the advant­age, of course, that hav­ing lived in Amer­ica and in Canada, I spoke Eng­lish quite well without really think­ing about wheth­er I was speak­ing Eng­lish or not. So my sis­ter and I, two years young­er than me, we were both, I would say, bilin­gual. We always spoke Nor­we­gi­an at home, but Eng­lish oth­er­wise, with friends, at school, and so on.  My young­est sis­ter was only two years old in 1955, so she did not go to school before our last year in Glasgow.

When we came to Scot­land, I went to a private school, Jordan Hill Col­lege School, which has­n’t changed very much since then. I was back and had a look some years ago – the school uni­form, everything, is exactly the same, although I ima­gine that the teach­ers no longer use the belt for keep­ing order amongst the row­di­er ele­ments in the class. The pupils there knew the belt. All the teach­ers car­ried it. There was a spe­cial pock­et in their gown, which was just for fit­ting in this belt, which was pro­duced some­where in the Hebrides as a sort of cot­tage industry.

IN:      From skin, leather?

PK:     A leath­er belt, yes. Slightly forked at the end, so it would really smack you.

IN:      Did you exper­i­ence this?

PK:     Yes, I did, yes. Dip­lo­mat­ic immunity did­n’t oper­ate. I thought it might, to my disappointment.

The very first thing the school did – they did­n’t really real­ise that my sis­ter and I spoke Eng­lish. They knew we spoke some, but not much, maybe. So, they appoin­ted a spe­cial teach­er to coach us for the first few weeks, so we could sort of catch up. I remem­ber it very well. She came to our house, and we sat down, and she star­ted talk­ing to me and I just respon­ded, it was very easy. Although I’d nev­er heard the actu­al Scot­tish, let’s call it accent, because it’s Eng­lish with the Scot­tish accent. It’s not real Scots, of course, but it was abso­lutely fine. After about three minutes or so, this young lady said, Och, you’ve got such a lovely Amer­ic­an accent, so I under­stood that I bet­ter put that away and try to talk like the oth­er lads. And so I did. I went to school, a private school, and it was all very middle class, I would say. But it was a very, very import­ant and nice exper­i­ence to go to school there.

After that, we moved back to Nor­way and I entered, well, we call it ‘Gym­nas’ in Nor­way, sec­ond­ary school, it’s like the Lycée in France. I did that in Nor­way and I had the great advant­age that at that time you had sev­er­al options, you could do nat­ur­al sci­ence, or you could do mod­ern lan­guages, or you could do Lat­in with mod­ern lan­guages. So, I took Lat­in with mod­ern lan­guages because obvi­ously Eng­lish was not a prob­lem. I had had two years of French in Scot­land. So, when I star­ted with French in Nor­way, it was also very easy. And I had had two years of Lat­in. So when we star­ted Lat­in, I also had an advant­age. So I did quite well at school, but it was­n’t because I was fright­fully clev­er. But I had this advant­age of a head start.

The only thing I did­n’t know when we came, was Ger­man and Ger­man was com­puls­ory. Before the War, Eng­lish was not the first for­eign lan­guage in Nor­way, it was Ger­man, and my moth­er was very flu­ent in Ger­man. So dur­ing the last year in Scot­land, when we knew we were going to move back, she taught me Ger­man. I got the gram­mar and the text­book sent over from Nor­way. And she actu­ally did that, I must say. She also tried to teach me to play the piano but that was just a dis­aster, it did­n’t work, I did­n’t cooper­ate. But I did cooper­ate in the case of Ger­man because I knew I needed to know it, there was no way I could get around it.

When I star­ted school, the oth­ers had had one year of Ger­man, but I had really been read­ing with my moth­er for a year, and I actu­ally was ahead of them in Ger­man as well. So that worked very well. I must say, I admire her for that because it’s not, I mean, a moth­er teach­ing a 13-year-old son reg­u­lar les­sons and giv­ing him extra home­work and so on – it’s not a mat­ter of course that it’s going to function.

So, I sup­pose the upshot of all this is that I grew up in an envir­on­ment where know­ing lan­guages and using them, espe­cially Eng­lish, of course, was just a nat­ur­al every­day thing. For example, when I was eight years old, we moved back for a while to Nor­way before Scot­land, I star­ted at that time, eight years old, my fourth school in the third coun­try. So, I was quite used to mov­ing around and start­ing in new places and so on. I did­n’t exper­i­ence that as a prob­lem. We had a very stable home life, everything was in Nor­we­gi­an and very pre­dict­able and so on, so it was okay.

Early interest in Tibet

So, how did I become inter­ested in Tibet? That happened dur­ing this peri­od. It actu­ally happened in Scot­land. We had a school lib­rary, and I got the idea, I don’t know exactly why, but prob­ably, I real­ised later, I’ve always been inter­ested in minor­it­ies or felt some sort of attrac­tion towards people who are not the major­ity. So, I got the idea that I would see if they had a book on the Balt­ic coun­tries, I thought that could be inter­est­ing. I remem­ber, in fact, from Amer­ica, at that time in Wash­ing­ton, DC, that the Soviet occu­pa­tion of the Balt­ic coun­tries was not recog­nised by Amer­ica. So they kept up their embassies in Wash­ing­ton, DC, sort of exiled gov­ern­ment embassies. I was aware of that.

I thought maybe the lib­rary had some­thing on Balt­ic coun­tries. Well, it did­n’t, but they had Hein­rich Har­rer­’s Sev­en Years in Tibet. So I thought, okay, I’ll read that. And I did. And I thought, it was quite inter­est­ing, it did­n’t make a huge impres­sion, but it’s quite excit­ing and well writ­ten, I must say. So in 1959, which was the last year of our stay in Scot­land, I had read it. We were spend­ing the East­er hol­i­days in Lon­don, just as tour­ists com­ing down to see Lon­don, the whole fam­ily. And while we were there there was the upris­ing in Lhasa, March 10th, and it was all in the news­pa­pers. So I read about it. I thought this is really ter­rible, intol­er­able. I was really upset. I was 3 years old, almost 14, when this happened in Lhasa.

Then for the next two weeks, there was the situ­ation of the Dalai Lama escap­ing to India. But at the time nobody – although now we know the CIA knew – but at the time, appar­ently nobody knew where he was and what was going on. There were rumours he was head­ing for India, but noth­ing was really con­firmed. And I was fol­low­ing this day by day and get­ting more and more absorbed by it, by this whole drama. And then he finally reached India and we returned to Glas­gow. But this did cap­ture my ima­gin­a­tion some­how. More than that, I had a feel­ing of real out­rage at what was going on. I think that one reas­on I felt that so strongly was that, and you can prob­ably ima­gine this from your home, when I grew up, my par­ents and their friends and so on, one of the main top­ics of con­ver­sa­tion until the 1960s, I would say, was the war. Everything that happened dur­ing the war and who did what, small things and big things, but the war was a topic.

It was quite easy, hav­ing this back­ground in your head of a big power occupy­ing your coun­try and exploit­ing and oppress­ing and so on, to draw a par­al­lel, very easy. And that’s really, I think, what happened. So when I went to school in Nor­way, we had to, in our last year at school, write a kind of dis­ser­ta­tion. It could be between 50 to 80 pages. It was not a very small thing; it was some­thing we had to research and show your sources and you had to type it nicely out and so on. And I wrote on the recent his­tory of Tibet up to 1959.

IN:      Which sources did you use?

PK:     Well, I got hold of sev­er­al books, actu­ally. The first book I bought was by an Indi­an journ­al­ist, Frank Mor­aes. He was a well-known journ­al­ist, ori­gin­ally from Goa. He wrote this book about the upris­ing in Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s flight, I think one of the very first ones to be writ­ten. I bought it when I found it in a book­store in Oslo. I think at the time I must have been 16 or 17 maybe.

Then I got hold of the two reports writ­ten by the Inter­na­tion­al Com­mis­sion of Jur­ists, which were pub­lished, one in 1959 and a more extens­ive one in 1960. They were based on his­tor­ic­al accounts of Tibet, espe­cially the second one, and on pub­lished excerpts from treat­ies like the Shimla treaty and all sorts of doc­u­ments of that kind to show the pos­i­tion of Tibet in inter­na­tion­al law. Then the second volume in 1960 was based on inter­views made by recently arrived Tibetans and the focus there was on human rights viol­a­tions. It’s quite an import­ant source for what went on in East Tibet espe­cially, because a lot of people from East Tibet escaped to India and Nepal via Lhasa, and they were inter­viewed. This was pub­lished with really hor­rendous reports, in great detail, of arrests and tor­tures. It made a very deep impres­sion on me, I must say.

One thing I did do before writ­ing this final sort of mini-dis­­ser­­ta­­tion was I thought that I have to do some­thing, I have to raise pub­lic aware­ness, so I wrote to all the sec­ond­ary schools in and near Oslo. They all used to have debat­ing soci­et­ies. So, I typed out a let­ter on my father­’s type­writer and sent off let­ters to all the schools in Oslo and in the sur­round­ing area.

IN:      How many schools were there?

PK:     Quite a few, I can­’t remem­ber exactly, maybe 30 or some­thing like that.

So, I sent off this let­ter and I said, as you may be aware the situ­ation in Tibet is a mat­ter of great con­cern from the point of view of all the human rights viol­a­tions and the occu­pa­tion of a coun­try — et cet­era, quite short, and — I’d be more than happy to come to your debat­ing soci­ety and talk about this if you’re inter­ested.

I got quite a lot of responses, I don’t know, at least 15, maybe 20, over the next year, more or less, but I did­n’t say I was a school pupil myself, I just signed with my name. So they thought, as I was told when I turned up, that they expec­ted an adult to turn up. But I did give this talk and it was quite well pre­pared. Nobody knew any­thing at all about this, of course, totally blank. So, there was nobody to con­tra­dict me either.

IN:      Was it a top­ic that was dis­cussed in Nor­we­gi­an society?

PK:     No, no. It was not a well-known issue at all. I mean, there would be a few people, some people would be aware of it, but it was­n’t widely known at all. There were no Tibetans in Nor­way at that time, not a single one. Also, just before I left, I fin­ished school in 1963, and just before that I just happened again to be in the book­store in Oslo, it’s quite amaz­ing now, I found Hein­rich Jäsch­ke’s Tibetan Gram­mar. Then I was able to order the dic­tion­ary. So, I got Jäsch­ke’s Gram­mar and Dic­tion­ary, and star­ted learn­ing Tibetan from that.

IN:      You were still at high school?

PK:     I was still at high school. I just did it in my spare time. So, I star­ted with Jäsch­ke’s Gram­mar, which is based on the mod­el of Lat­in. And so it was quite straight­for­ward. I learnt the script and to read the short excerpts, which he has at the back of the book, the sad story of the Brahmin.

Working with Tibetan students in Copenhagen

IN:      Was it the first Ori­ent­al lan­guage that you studied?

PK:     Yes. What happened then was that some­body poin­ted out to me because they knew I had this interest, someone in the fam­ily or a fam­ily friend, that in a recent magazine there’d been an art­icle about a kind of private school or ini­ti­at­ive in Den­mark with an Eng­lish teach­er, a Dan­ish couple, who had taken 20 Tibetan boys from India to Den­mark. So, I read that, and I thought, this is very inter­est­ing. I was able to get in touch with this Dan­ish couple, John and Britta Fen­neberg; they were young­ish middle-aged and pretty tough, and I said, I’m inter­ested in Tibetans and Tibetan, could I come down for the sum­mer and work there?

IN:      That was all by letter?

PK:     Yes, abso­lutely. So, they replied, Yes, by all means, please come. So, I went down to Copen­ha­gen and by that time they had just received 40 girls, an addi­tion­al 40 boys, a Tibetan nun, and a Tibetan mar­ried couple. So, there were two or three adults who had also come from India to provide some kind of adult presence.

Now, the idea was that they were going to get some kind of basic edu­ca­tion at that time. This was in 1963 and the school sys­tem for Tibetans in India was not well developed yet. It was begin­ning, some begin­nings had been made, but it was not like it later became. At the time it seemed like a good idea, you see. There were already Tibetans in Switzer­land. They came very early, in the very early 1960s, the first ones. It was the Swiss Red Cross that organ­ised that.

IN:      These were chil­dren without parents?

PK:     They could be with or without par­ents. At that time, because the big set­tle­ments had­n’t been organ­ised yet, Tibetans ten­ded to be employed, at least in north India, in road­build­ing. In fact, the big set­tle­ments, like Bylak­uppe were just get­ting star­ted, I think, around that time, but many of the oth­er big­ger set­tle­ments had­n’t been organ­ised yet. So, either Tibetans were just liv­ing in reg­u­lar refugee camps or they were employed as road work­ers in Himach­al Pra­desh and Ladakh and so on. They worked on the roads like Bihar­is do now.

There were some monks com­ing to the West at that time already, as the Rock­e­feller Found­a­tion ini­ti­at­ive enabled many uni­ver­sit­ies in the West to invite Tibetan monks to help loc­al schol­ars. Giuseppe Tucci recruited a few and Dav­id Snellgrove, of course, in London.

There was also a monk in Copen­ha­gen who came out and vis­ited the Tibetan school togeth­er with a Dan­ish schol­ar, Eric Haarh. I met both of them because all these Tibetans were in a big coun­try house out­side Copen­ha­gen, which ori­gin­ally had belonged to a very rich fam­ily. It was what you would call late Vic­tori­an style with quite an extens­ive park, a very beau­ti­ful place, but that had seen bet­ter days. Then some­thing happened, I don’t know what, and then it was sold off and turned into a kind of retire­ment home for old ladies. And then that, too, was wound up. Then the Dan­ish couple, the Fen­nebergs, were able to rent the place for very little, I think

IN:      To the foundation?

PK:     Not exactly. They col­lec­ted money on their own, but not enough to keep it going. Any­way, at that moment, there were almost 100 Tibetans in this build­ing. It was very crowded, and the fund­ing was totally inad­equate. Fen­neberg had a small fact­ory pro­cessing fish into fish paste and fish pud­ding, which is a favour­ite in that part of the world. So we had a lot of that.

Then he would do rounds in Copen­ha­gen, in Den­mark in the morn­ings they sell lunch packs with Dan­ish sand­wiches, which are very dif­fer­ent from the Eng­lish ones, because usu­ally there’s just one lay­er of bread and then there’s a huge amount of roast beef or shrimps and may­on­naise. I mean it’s like a moun­tain, a real hill. People buy this and carry it with them, at least they did then, and there would be some unsold. So, he would go around the after­noon and col­lect all these unsold ones, which they could­n’t sell the next day. And so that was what we ate, that was our din­ner. It was a bit chaotic.

There was an Eng­lish teach­er, Mal­colm Dex­ter, who’d been teach­ing the older boys who had already come early on in 1961, and I’ll tell you why in a second. There was me and there were some oth­er people there, but there was noth­ing really. There were classes. I think most of the Tibetan boys and girls had gone to some kind of school in India, they had a smat­ter­ing of rudi­ment­ary Eng­lish, very little, we did­n’t have to start with the alpha­bet, but almost.

IN:      How was it for the Tibetans stay­ing in such a place?

PK:     Very dif­fi­cult to say. They must have been totally con­fused, flown over and just dropped in this place. All the girls were issued with stand­ard chubas, which I think they’d brought from India. Like a kind of school uniform.

Actu­ally, maybe you have come across Prince Peter of Greece as an anthro­po­lo­gist? The Dan­ish and the Greek roy­al fam­il­ies are linked through mar­riage, and he was in the line of suc­ces­sion both to the Dan­ish throne, not closely, num­ber sev­en or some­thing, and also in the Greek roy­al fam­ily suc­ces­sion, but not high enough up to actu­ally ever have a chance of being placed on the throne. But he was part of the roy­alty and could do what he liked. He had mar­ried a Rus­si­an lady who came from a very, very rich fam­ily and who had escaped, I ima­gine, through China and Man­churia and was actu­ally liv­ing, as far as I remem­ber, from what I was told, in Hong Kong.

He did­n’t stay in Hong Kong, he was trav­el­ling in the Him­alay­as and liv­ing in Kalimpong. He went Ladakh in the 1950s and then wrote an import­ant book on poly­andry, I think the first prop­er study of poly­andry, and one of the first anthro­po­lo­gic­al stud­ies ever on Tibetan soci­ety. So, he was a pro­fes­sion­al in that sense. But, I mean, he was well off. He did­n’t have to both­er about get­ting uni­ver­sity posts or any­thing like that. His book was actu­ally partly on the poly­andry amongst Tibetans and partly on poly­andry amongst the Todas in the Nil­giri hills.

I met him a num­ber of times later on. Because Prince Peter had this interest in Tibet and had been stay­ing in Kalimpong, like so many oth­er West­ern schol­ars in the 1950s, Rene de Nebesky-Wojkow­itz and Alex­an­der Mac­don­ald were there and oth­er people as well – because of that, he con­tac­ted his old friend, John Fen­neberg, because they had been in the Dan­ish Roy­al Guards togeth­er, so they were old friends from their mil­it­ary days, and he said, I will make sure that there’s no prob­lem with the offi­cial side of it, but you have to organ­ise some­thing for the Tibetans. Fen­neberg was a very ideal­ist­ic per­son and said, Okay, we’ll do that. Then these boys arrived, I think in 1961, and no prob­lem what­so­ever because at that time, Prince Peter could just talk to some­body in the For­eign Min­istry and they would say, Fine.

I’ve seen this hap­pen in Nor­way. I write about it in the Antho­logy, when the present abbot of the Bön Mon­as­tery in India, the Menri Triz­in, came to Nor­way, this is what happened. I was present in the office of the head of the Nor­we­gi­an aid to the Tibetans, and I wished to take him to Nor­way because he was not safe in India. The chair­man was a very well-known pub­lic fig­ure, he worked in the Nor­we­gi­an nation­al radio, he was in charge of all the chil­dren’s pro­grammes. So, he was always known as Onkel Laur­itz. He was very pop­u­lar, every­body knew him.

And he just called the for­eign min­istry, I was sit­ting in his office, and said, I’d like to talk to whoever’s in charge of the immig­ra­tion desk - or some­thing like that — good morn­ing, good morn­ing, this is Laur­itz John­son. As you may know, we’ve got Tibetans here in Nor­way now and actu­ally now there’s a monk in India and there’s some interest in tak­ing him to Nor­way, so will that be okay? 


This is lit­er­ally what he said. And at the oth­er end of the tele­phone I heard, Yes, of course, no prob­lem. Then the Abbot just went to the Nor­we­gi­an embassy in Nor­way, where they had the mes­sage, gave him the visa, a one-year visa, and said, Have a nice time in Nor­way. It was as simple as that.

IN:      He prob­ably just had a refugee paper?

PK:     He had some kind of doc­u­ment from the Indi­an side, but I don’t think they had ID cards or things like that yet. I’m not sure about that. What exactly they had from the Indi­an side, I don’t know. But it was so incred­ibly simple. Any­way, that’s more or less what happened.

The establishment of the “Help Tibet” association in Norway, memories of Prince Peter

So, this is to put you in mind of the situ­ation that was then. Later, as I told you, I met Eric Haahr and I had a bit of con­tact with him, so I could say some­thing about him, per­haps. But just to fin­ish off this ini­tial phase, it was clear that these Tibetans could­n’t stay in Den­mark because Fen­neberg was not able to organ­ise the kind of real asso­ci­ation which could take long-term respons­ib­il­ity and organ­ise things prop­erly. He just was not cap­able of that, in spite of all his good intentions.

So, he decided that the girls should go to Sweden, where there was an organ­isa­tion with a kind of, not really prom­in­ent, but with the kind of Chris­ti­an back­ground called IM, which I think at that time actu­ally meant, well, lit­er­ally intern­al as opposed to for­eign mis­sion. They did­n’t really do mis­sion­ary work either, maybe they had done at one time. So, the girls were taken care of by that organ­isa­tion. They all went to Sweden to be trained as nurses and so on, that was the idea. Fen­neberg thought maybe the boys could come to Nor­way. He knew nobody in Nor­way except me, and I was an 18-year-old.

So then how did this work? There was a Nor­we­gi­an journ­al­ist that was also aware of this story, and he had writ­ten some­thing about the Tibetans in Den­mark, he knew about it. I knew that he knew. So, I con­tac­ted him, he was a very nice per­son, and we met in his office, and he said, What can we do?

IN:      What was his name?

PK:     His name was Kåre Pet­tersen, he was a quite well-known journ­al­ist at that time.

Then he said, Well, the real per­son to talk to here is Onkel Laur­itz, Laur­itz John­son. He had been very act­ive in organ­ising the Nor­we­gi­an anti-apartheid move­ment but was out of it by that time. He was ready for some­thing new, basic­ally. So, we had a meet­ing with him because Pet­tersen knew him as a journ­al­ist, he’d been in con­tact with him. We had a meet­ing and John­son said, Yes, this is inter­est­ing. Let’s invite Prince Peter up to Oslo and he can give a slide show in the Uni­ver­sity of Aula on his travels in Ladakh.

I used slideshows when teach­ing until five, six years ago. Only then did I start using Power­Point because in the rare cases, when it works without any prob­lem, it’s of course more con­veni­ent to bring, all the equip­ment is there and so on. Slide shows were a great thing. People who had trav­elled in out-of-the-way places giv­ing pub­lic talks with slides, it was a great thing. I’m sure it was the same in Bri­tain as well at the time.

So, he said, Yes, we should organ­ise it and then then we’ll see. This will cre­ate pub­lic interest and we’ll see what can be done. They should bring up some of the Tibetan boys who can per­form Tibetan dances. So, it was organ­ised like that. This was in Septem­ber 1963.

The Uni­ver­sity Aula in Oslo is quite big, it can seat, I don’t know, maybe alto­geth­er it can seat 600, 700 people. There was a crowd. It was packed to the last seat. Prince Peter giv­ing a slideshow of Ladakh, the Him­alay­as, it was sen­sa­tion­al. So, it was abso­lutely packed. Six Tibetan boys came. One of them had been in Den­mark, he spoke Dan­ish, and the oth­ers came in their grey, stand­ard chubas. My moth­er put them all up in our house, on the floor on mat­tresses and things. This event went very well.

Prince Peter had come the day before. Laur­itz John­son was a quite cha­ris­mat­ic fig­ure at the time, he was in his early six­ties, I would say, tall, sil­ver- haired with a very son­or­ous, fine voice. His Nor­we­gi­an was beau­ti­ful, you can ima­gine, a very con­ser­vat­ive kind of speech, which is very good with the Danes because this kind of Nor­we­gi­an, urb­an, con­ser­vat­ive, which is basic­ally Dan­ish, except it’s pro­nounced in a totally dif­fer­ent way. I remem­ber we had a walk in the sculp­ture park, just near where I live now. We were also at a res­taur­ant on the hill on the west side of Oslo with Prince Peter, the Tibetans, Laur­itz John­son, his wife, and one of his daugh­ters, who was also work­ing in the Nor­we­gi­an tele­vi­sion. Any­way, the idea was to decide that if all goes well, would we start some­thing? We decided: yes, we will.

IN:      The pub­lic that atten­ded the event, were they mostly stu­dents at the university?

PK:     No, the gen­er­al public.

IN:      They heard about it in the newspapers?

PK:     From the news­pa­pers, yes. I mean, people were really queuing up out­side, hundreds.

IN:      And it was free?

PK:     Yes, it was free. As far as I can remem­ber, it was free. Prince Peter did­n’t take a fee, obvi­ously. I don’t know exactly how the cost of hir­ing the Uni­ver­sity of Aula was covered but, at that time, it would­n’t have been very much.

Then at the end, Laur­itz John­son entered the stage and said, Well, it has been decided we’re going to set up a com­mit­tee in Nor­way to take Tibetan boys here and estab­lish a school for them. So, if any­one is inter­ested in help­ing, then please stay behind and we’ll quickly get in touch here and now, and then we’ll con­tin­ue from there. He had already got a couple of his own friends to say they would join. So it was­n’t like nobody was part of it. I had said I would be the sec­ret­ary and his wife said she’d be the cash­ier, and she was good at that. So, he already had some basic struc­ture, but he needed more people, obviously.


Kåre Pet­tersen, the journ­al­ist, also joined, and then there were two people who stayed behind. One of them was a very inter­est­ing per­son. I think she passed away not that many years ago. At that time, she would have been in her early fifties, I would ima­gine. Her name was Patsy Brandt, she was Eng­lish. Her hus­band was the man­aging dir­ect­or of one of the big paper factor­ies in Nor­way at the time. So, she was an afflu­ent per­son. And she def­in­itely had a very good upbring­ing in Eng­land, there’s no doubt about that. She had spent some time, per­haps a few years, in India, where she had an uncle who was in the Brit­ish army in India, and they had gone up along the Sut­lej and into Tibet on horse­back in the 1930s. It was­n’t a long trek, but maybe they spent 10 days inside Tibet or some­thing like that.

IN:      The bor­ders were quite non-exist­ent at that time?

PK:     They did exist, but the main prob­lem was really on the Brit­ish side. They would stop people going into Tibet. In prac­tice, if the Brit­ish said this per­son is going on a private tour, the Tibetans would­n’t object because, at that time in the 1930s, they were quite depend­ent on Bri­tain for weapons. Bri­tain was sup­ply­ing them with arms, Bri­tain was quite well rep­res­en­ted and influ­en­tial in Lhasa.

So any­way, she had actu­ally been in Tibet. To cut a long story short, this com­mit­tee was set up and in Janu­ary 1964, 30 out of the 40 boys arrived by boat from Copen­ha­gen and they were received on the pier. When you con­sider how refugees are treated and received nowadays, the dif­fer­ence is amaz­ing. Nor­way is a coun­try that has, maybe you also have in Cze­ch­ia, lots of brass bands, every single school has got one and there are many oth­ers as well. Some of them are really very, very good, semi-pro­fes­­sion­al, you might say. There was one of these really good brass bands stand­ing on the pier play­ing to wel­come them. Then they were taken by bus to the city hall where the lord may­or, with his gold chain, hos­ted them for breakfast.

Then they were taken by bus up to a small town north of Oslo called Gjövik, where we had a house ready for them, big enough, which belonged, by chance, to my gym teach­er at school. He had bought this place for almost noth­ing because it was sort of incon­veni­ently loc­ated at the time. It was built dur­ing the war by one of the Nazi col­lab­or­at­ors who had lots of money, a busi­ness­man, and he built this huge, big log house in kind of semi-Vik­ing style, you might say. So my teach­er, bought it and he used to have sum­mer courses and winter ski­ing courses and so on. He was fant­ast­ic at organ­ising things like that, for pupils from his own school and oth­er schools as well. It was almost like a kind of sum­mer board­ing school in summer.

He read about this ini­ti­at­ive because it was in the news­pa­pers, about it being set up. He con­tac­ted us and said, I have this house at Gjövik if you want to use it, if it’s suit­able, I will not take any rent, just keep it up as it is so it does­n’t get more run down, that’s all. So we used it. By the way, this teach­er of mine, he is 88 now, I think, and is as fit as a fiddle. He lives out­side Oslo. We’re in quite fre­quent touch, we meet a couple of times every year, I go down to vis­it his place.

So that’s how the first Tibetans came to Norway.


I was the sec­ret­ary of this organ­isa­tion, which got fund­ing from private sources and from the loc­al com­munes in Nor­way. Some gave quite a bit, oth­ers gave very little, some gave noth­ing. But it worked quite well. We hired a num­ber of teach­ers, among them an Eng­lish teach­er, Ian Water­ing. Patsy Brandt knew him and said, He’s the man you should ask. He was a young man. He came over, he was the Eng­lish teach­er, and gen­er­ally in-house, he lived in the school. There was a head teach­er and a Nor­we­gi­an teach­er who was in charge of the phys­ic­al train­ing, which we thought was quite import­ant. And there were a couple of oth­ers who came in dur­ing day­time. It worked quite well.

There was a loc­al com­mit­tee, cru­cially, in this little town, led by the head of the loc­al school depart­ment, who was also very, very sup­port­ive. So it worked very nicely and since I was a sec­ret­ary, some­times I went every week-end and stayed overnight to see how things were going and report back. So, of course, I was very eager to get to know the Tibetans. But I did­n’t actu­ally study Tibetan with them. These were 13‑, 14-year-old boys at the time. They had a very, very packed sched­ule every single day. But still, it was nice, this kind of atmo­sphere. They star­ted the day with pray­ers every morning.

IN:      Tibetan pray­ers?

PK:     Tibetan pray­ers. There was an older Tibetan there, five or six years older. He came from Eng­land. He had come to Eng­land but was sort of headhunted and we invited him over to Nor­way. He was in charge and of teach­ing them Tibetan read­ing and writ­ing, and so on. They knew a little, but had to learn more, because the whole idea was they would get their train­ing here, then go back to India and con­trib­ute to build­ing  the com­munity in India.

IN:      Were they learn­ing Norwegian?

PK:     No. That was also on pur­pose. We did­n’t want them to waste time on that. They were not going to be integ­rated into Nor­we­gi­an soci­ety, they were here to get their school train­ing and go back. That was the idea. Devel­op their exile community.

The altar is also quite a nice story because from one of the pub­lic­a­tions of the Tibet Soci­ety, in Eng­land, I found a pic­ture of the young Dalai Lama. It’s quite a fam­ous por­trait. So, I had that pho­to­graphed by a pro­fes­sion­al pho­to­graph­er, enlarged, and framed. I gave it to them when the Tibetan boys arrived, they were really very appre­ci­at­ive, and they put it on the wall. There was a table for their altar.

Before they arrived, I went to the Eth­no­graph­ic Museum in Oslo. I did­n’t know per­son­ally the dir­ect­or, Dr. Arne Mar­tin Klausen, but made an appoint­ment, and I said, We’re start­ing this school and we are mak­ing an altar. It is so import­ant that the Tibetans keep their reli­gion because it’s part of their cul­ture, and we want them to have a prop­er altar, but they haven’t got any­thing.

The Eth­no­graph­ic Museum has a col­lec­tion of Tibetan bronzes. So I asked, Would it be pos­sible to bor­row some of these for their use? And he replied, Of course, there’s noth­ing bet­ter. I mean, these things should be used and not just kept in store.

So, we went down into the cel­lar, where there were all sorts of things; there were a few Tibetan bronzes on dis­play, but the rest were on shelves down in the cel­lar. And he said, Well, what do you think?

I said, Well, we don’t need many, maybe three is fine. So, maybe this one and this one and this one. I think I got three or four, not tangkas, but bronzes and little cups for water offer­ings, and a few things like that. I under­stood that he would be will­ing to let me have some­thing. So, I brought a bag and some tow­els to wrap them in. I wrapped them in my tow­el, put them in the bag, signed a paper, and off I went.

I placed them on the altar at the school. The Tibetans said, Oh, this is beau­ti­ful. There was a Tara, I remem­ber, and maybe there was one of Tsongkhapa. I would­n’t have chosen him today, but I think maybe there was. There was one which was a bit curi­ous, I thought it looked inter­est­ing, but the Tibetans said, No, no, no, we don’t like this one. I think it was not exactly Bön, but I think maybe it might have been Chinese. It was wrong. Think­ing back now, I think maybe it must have been some sort of arhat.

Any­way, they did­n’t like it and did­n’t want it, so I brought that one back to the museum. The rest were actu­ally there for three years. Then they were returned to the museum. I mean, these things were pos­sible at that time. Now, if you even sug­ges­ted it, they’d just laugh their heads off. They would­n’t really think you were serious.

Travelling and working in India

So, basic­ally that’s how I got involved with Tibetan work and Tibetans gen­er­ally. Then I decided I wanted to go to India. I went to India in 1966, through Hugh Richard­son, with whom I was in touch through Prince Peter. I wrote to Richard­son and said, I’m a Nor­we­gi­an stu­dent and I’m doing Sanskrit at the Uni­ver­sity of Oslo, but I want to do Tibetan as well. I want to go to India to work with Tibetans, not to study. I did­n’t say to study Tibetan, to work with Tibetans because that’s sort of in parentheses.

I can say that my motiv­a­tion for get­ting involved with Tibetans is what I’ve told you now. It’s not that I’m attrac­ted to Buddhism as a reli­gion or a philo­sophy or whatever, and it’s not any kind of great, enorm­ous admir­a­tion for Tibetan cul­ture. It’s this feel­ing of out­rage at the Chinese pres­ence, and this is still my motiv­a­tion, more than any­thing else.

So, I wanted to go to teach or to do some­thing prac­tic­al. Hugh Richard­son said there was a new group of Tibetans arrived via Nepal and had been stay­ing for some time at Rew­alsar near Mandi in North India, they’re from Nangchen in Kham, and they’re a very com­pact group. They’ve been sent right down to Mad­hya Pra­desh to a place called Main­pat, where there already was a set­tle­ment by this time, 1966. I was in touch with Hugh Richard­son in late 1965. He said I could go there. He knew an Eng­lish­man, I don’t remem­ber his name, who was involved with this group from Nangchen. He was a kind of hip­pie type and he had kind of joined up with them in Mandi. The Gyelpo (rgy­al po) of this group, thought he was such a use­ful per­son, prob­ably, that he offered him his daugh­ter as a part­ner. He was liv­ing with this young Tibetan woman.

IN:      Was he a Gyelpo?

PK:     Well, he was referred to as Gyelpo. I don’t know if he was the Gyelpo of the whole of Nangchen, but he was def­in­itely called Gyelpo.

These people had been fight­ing the Chinese for a long time and then they escaped into Nepal. And the story goes, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but when they got to Nepal they said, We’ve escaped, we’ve com­mit­ted great sins by killing so many Chinese, innu­mer­able Chinese. So now they’ve des­troyed all their weapons. I was actu­ally able to buy quite a few knives and swords that they had kept. At that time, I thought it was import­ant to col­lect Tibetan objects. I don’t think that any­more, but that’s why I still have a few at home.

Any­way, they were liv­ing in tents. Then I got a tele­gram which some­how arrived, tele­grams did arrive every­where at the time as it was the only way you could com­mu­nic­ate, from Oslo, from the Refugee Coun­cil, who was pay­ing my travel expenses to India. Well, that’s also a long story, how I got involved with them, but any­way they said, Don’t stay here, you’ll be more use­ful if you go down to Dhar­war in Karnataka and there’s a new school set up there by the Ockenden Ven­ture, an Eng­lish NGO — I don’t know if it exists any­more — the school has just been set up and you can teach there. So I did. I went down there and spent some months there before the schools closed down.

IN:      You went [to India] via boat for three weeks?

PK:     Not exactly. Com­ing out to India, I flew via Teher­an, where I spent about a week liv­ing in a tech­nic­al train­ing school, which was run by the Jew­ish com­munity in Teher­an. Not all of them, but about 10 or so of the ori­gin­al 20 boys who had come to Den­mark were sent there for tech­nic­al train­ing after Den­mark. So these Tibetans were liv­ing in Teher­an in a Jew­ish school, and there was a Nor­we­gi­an Peace Corps work­er there as well. I was liv­ing in the school with the Tibetan boys in their dorm­it­ory. They were fin­anced by the Nor­we­gi­an Refugee Coun­cil, so I had to write a report back and say how they were get­ting on, which I did.

From there, I flew to Cairo and spent a couple of days. Then I got the Nor­we­gi­an freight­er, where I got free pas­sage from Port Said, through the canal and across the Indi­an Ocean after stop­ping in Aden, where I saw for the first time mil­it­ary in oper­a­tion. Aden was Brit­ish at the time but there was a lot of unrest and riots. I remem­ber see­ing Brit­ish sol­diers sit­ting in their jeeps, open jeeps with machine guns moun­ted on the back, just driv­ing slowly through and keep­ing a watch­ful eye on the nat­ives. So we went on shore, myself and a young Indi­an couple from Bom­bay. They had been to Eng­land for their hon­ey­moon. This was the kind of ship that used to take not just freight, but also pas­sen­gers. So, there were quite nice cab­ins, not many, four or five, but they would go from Europe to Aus­tralia and back.

They had stopped tak­ing pas­sen­gers, but they made an excep­tion because Patsy Brandt knew the per­son who owned the ship­ping com­pany. Wil­helmsen, one of the big ones in Nor­way. So we called at Aden. I remem­ber passing Soco­tra and then arriv­ing at Verav­al, which is a small town in Gujer­at. I went on shore there, that was my first meet­ing with India. I finally got to Bom­bay and then by train and bus to Main­pat. But then after 10 days there, I had to go down to Karnataka.

Then I spent four months in Karnataka, until the school was closed down, but I think it will take too long to relate everything about that. I spent alto­geth­er almost a year in India trav­el­ling around a bit. At that The Ockenden School is where I met the Menri Triz­in, as he’s now known. At the time, he was really a simple monk. He was one of the three Bönpo monks, Samten Karmay and Ten­zin Nam­dak being the oth­ers, who had been invited to Eng­land by Pro­fess­or Dav­id Snellgrove. When he returned to India he was engaged as Tibetan head­mas­ter with the school run by the Ockenden Ven­ture in Dhar­war in Karnataka, and that’s where I met him.

There was an Eng­lish head­mas­ter also, whose name was Mal­colm Dex­ter, and he was the Eng­lish teach­er. He was maybe not a lin­guist­ic geni­us, but he cer­tainly had a flair for lan­guages. He spoke totally flu­ent Dan­ish. So we would speak, he in Dan­ish and I in Nor­we­gi­an, and that’s how we would com­mu­nic­ate, which was quite nice. We could say what we wanted. Nobody could under­stand it.

Any­way, the school got closed down and I spent the rest of the time in India trav­el­ling around. I went up to Man­ali, amongst oth­er places, and met some of the old Bön monks like the Yun­g­drung Khenpo, who had escaped from Yun­g­drung Ling Mon­as­tery. The Menri Khenpo had also escaped, but he died quite young in India. The Menri Khenpo was very old, or at least seemed very old.

IN:      How old was Sangye Ten­zin at that time?

PK:     He was born, I think, in 1929. So he would be 37 or so. He was really in his prime, and he spoke quite good Eng­lish. We spent every single lunch break at the Ockenden School, which was loc­ated in a huge, ram­bling, old bun­ga­low out­side the town of Dhar­war, with a huge mango grove sur­round­ing it, read­ing the Zer­mik (gzer mig). I was able to read it. The Zer­mik is not par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult gram­mat­ic­ally, it’s not ornate or com­plex. I mean, there are lots of prob­lems there, but I was­n’t aware of them at the time. We just read and I got used to read­ing semi-curs­ive and manu­script script.

IN:      He must have been impressed by you.

PK:     I don’t know, he did­n’t say. I mean, I was just happy I got this chance to read Tibetan. I met Ten­zin Nam­dak also at that time.

Then I returned to Nor­way. I returned by boat from India.

IN:      What did this Indi­an trip and long stay there give you?

PK:     Oh, it meant a lot because at the time I’d done my BA. In Nor­way at that time, you usu­ally did three sub­jects in human­it­ies for your BA. I did His­tory of Reli­gion, Eng­lish, and Sanskrit. But Sanskrit was much more than just Sanskrit. When we get onto the aca­dem­ic side, there’s a lot I would like to say about my teach­er and Nils Simonsson.

I should just point out, there’s an art­icle which is pub­lished in a Pol­ish journ­al on Tibetan Stud­ies in Nor­way up to 1975. There you will get all the facts and fig­ures, includ­ing the very first work, which was pub­lished in 1857 by a Nor­we­gi­an schol­ar at the Uni­ver­sity of Oslo. In French, I’m happy to say, with the intriguing title “Trace de Bouddhisme en Nor­vège”, traces of Buddhism in Nor­way. At the time you would find traces of this and that, for example traces of the lost tribes of Israel, which were found all over the place – the Poly­ne­sians, the Mor­mons, etc.

So the art­icle winds up with Simonsson in 1975, because that’s the year he left Oslo and took up the chair of Indi­an Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of Uppsala, in Sweden, which was his alma mater. He was very happy to go back. Although later, once he had gone back, he regret­ted it and said it was much bet­ter in Oslo. Maybe he did­n’t regret it. Any­way, there’s a list of all the PhDs in which have been sub­mit­ted in Nor­way up to 2014. It’s not com­pletely up to date and, of course, there are a lot of MA dis­ser­ta­tions too, which are not lis­ted here. So any­way, there you can get some facts.

Going back to Nor­way, I had already decided I was going to do an MA in Sanskrit with Pro­fess­or Simonsson. We had a close rela­tion­ship, and I liked his schol­ar­ship very, very much. It was hugely influ­en­tial on me, and he was an amaz­ing poly­glot. Any­way, I wanted to do Sanskrit and I was inter­ested in Tibet, but I did­n’t really see myself at that time becom­ing a Tibet­o­lo­gist, neces­sar­ily. I was able to read it reas­on­ably well, but I nev­er got a chance to learn to speak it while I was in India because Sangye Ten­zin had been in Eng­land for three years, he spoke Eng­lish. And oth­er­wise, I was teach­ing. I was busy, they were busy. Then after that I was trav­el­ling. I was­n’t fixed in one place, and I was the middle of my stud­ies, so I was­n’t roam­ing around and think­ing I could stay for a year in Dharam­sala and learn Tibetan, because I had to get back.

So that’s the main reas­on, really, why I did­n’t ever learn to speak Tibetan. Sadly, I would say. Any­way, there it is. I had this chance at that time to travel around India, and I was right down to Cape Comor­in, I was up in Man­ali, I was in Bihar, Bod­hgaya, Nalanda. I did­n’t go to Rajasthan, but I did later. I was in South India a lot, Tamil Nadu, Ker­ala, and Karnataka. I was very inter­ested in art his­tory and archae­ology. I vis­ited lots and lots of cave temples and dif­fer­ent sites, espe­cially in the south, which is very rich in archae­ology, not like North India, where it’s very rare you find anything.

IN:      It must have been very dif­fer­ent trav­el­ling at that time?

PK:     Yes, it was, of course. You see, at the time, train was the best. I did travel by air once, maybe we can talk about why later; I did actu­ally fly from Bel­gaum to Bom­bay to Del­hi on one occa­sion. So, there were air ser­vices, of course, but they were very exclus­ive, for really import­ant offi­cials and busy, busy busi­ness­men. It was­n’t like now when every­body flies everywhere.

So it was by train. At the time, if you trav­elled first class, which I usu­ally did, you could simply amble into the sta­tion­mas­ter­’s office and say, Good even­ing, sir. I want to travel to Ban­galore – wherever - would it be pos­sible to arrange a berth. There’s a ping, and then some­body would come with this great big ledger, and they would leaf through it, or he would say, Yes, no prob­lem.

Com­puters did­n’t exist and there was a tele­graph ser­vice up and down the line, but that was, I think, mainly reserved for tech­nic­al things, import­ant stuff. So all the sta­tions, except the tiny ones, always kept two or three berths for last minute arrivals on first class. If you turned up, the chances were, unless they had already been taken by some­body, you would get one there and then.

So it worked like that. It was quite an amaz­ing situ­ation com­pared to now. Now I can sit in Oslo and buy my tick­ets in India, but this was much more fun, of course. It was kind of an adven­ture, to travel every­where in this way, and some­times on top of a bus, I’ve done that. Also by ox cart to get to Nalanda. The last leg of the jour­ney I did on an ox cart that happened to be passing by.

IN:      Were there any for­eign­ers around?

PK:     There were, but very few. On the oth­er hand, there were still a few old-time Brit­ish­ers around, who had been born in India and had nowhere else to go. They were just hanging on somehow.

And there were Indi­ans. I remem­ber the loc­al bank, this is stray­ing far from Tibet, but the way you brought money was trav­el­ler­’s checks, so I had Thomas Cook’s trav­el­ler­’s checks, and you had to go to a bank and cash them. I went to the State Bank of India in Dhar­war, it’s a tiny little bun­ga­low in a beau­ti­ful garden. I went in and I said, I’d like to cash some trav­el­ler­’s checks. I mean, it must have been three years since the last time it happened. So they said, Oh, yes, yes, yes. In the mean­time, would you please come? And they knocked at the door of the bank dir­ect­or’s office, a tiny office, and he says, Oh, yes. You are stay­ing here? Please sit down, my chaprasi will bring tea — and so on.

While they were pro­cessing my trav­el­ler­’s checks, we spent about an hour chat­ting. And on sev­er­al occa­sions when I came back to cash more. He had all the time in the world, and he loved to talk and said, Oh, it was so much bet­ter dur­ing the Brit­ish time. This was 1966, it was only 19 years after inde­pend­ence. He was a man in his late forties, he was an adult in 1947. He knew what he was talk­ing about, from his point of view. It was noth­ing espe­cially rare about people hav­ing exper­i­enced the Brit­ish time: Oh, it was so much bet­ter, now India is such a mess — it went on like that and — we love Brit­ish lit­er­at­ure. Dav­id Cop­per­field. Lord Byron — et cet­era. That was a kind of India that has gone. This kind of per­son you don’t find any­more, they’re gone.

Studying in Paris in 1969, the atmosphere post-1968

When I got back to Nor­way, I went on with my stud­ies. I got a French gov­ern­ment student’s schol­ar­ship because I knew about Pro­fess­or R.A. Stein, and I wanted to study with him.

I was sup­posed to spend one year in France, from the autumn 1968 to the sum­mer 1969, but then there was the upris­ing in May 1968, so all the uni­ver­sit­ies were closed down in the whole of France until the end of the year. So, I could only go in Janu­ary 1969 and stayed until July. Then I went back, and I fin­ished my Master’s in Nor­way. But those six or sev­en months in France were def­in­itely the most import­ant, intel­lec­tu­ally speak­ing, in my life, an opening-up.

IN:      How do you remem­ber your teach­ers there?

PK:     At the time, once you were accep­ted as a stu­dent at l’É­cole Pratique [des Hautes Études], where Charles [Ramble] is teach­ing now, then you could wander around and it was sort of à la carte. You had to ask the teach­er to sit in, even if you were not act­ively engaged in that field, you had to ask for per­mis­sion. If the teach­er said, yes, that’s it. That was all. I really thought I needed to bene­fit from this to the maximum.

In Tibetan there was Stein, of course. And some people have been talk­ing about Stein and say­ing he was a dif­fi­cult per­son and so on. He was extremely kind to me, I must say, extraordin­ar­ily. I fol­lowed his courses and Ariane Mac­don­ald’s, too. I met Sandy Mac­don­ald also, but I did­n’t fol­low his teach­ing, which was not at l’É­cole Pratique, but at Nanterre.

IN:      What did the classes look like?

PK:     Well, most of them were in the Sor­bonne, which now has been refur­bished. There were these tiny little rooms, very high ceil­ings, but really tiny, nar­row little table. People were sort of squeezed down. For the Tibetan classes it var­ied a little bit, but for Ariane Mac­don­ald’s there might have been five or six people there, like Anne Chayet and Anne-Mar­ie Blon­deau, those two were classmates.

Mireille Helf­fer did­n’t [attend], she was already inde­pend­ent and doing her own research. But I did meet her. Maybe she came to some classes, because I did meet her. For Tibetan Stud­ies, that was it. I met Yon­ten Gyatso, who was the Tibetan teach­er, and we spent time togeth­er. He was an Amdowa, an ex-monk, but even­tu­ally he mar­ried in France.

Any­way, I fol­lowed many oth­er courses at the Collège de France, any­one could just come. I fol­lowed the courses Jean Fil­lioz­at, who was one of the great Indo­lo­gists. I also fol­lowed oth­er courses at the École française d’Ex­trême-Ori­ent because Stein had some of these activ­it­ies there. All these insti­tu­tions are loc­ated in dif­fer­ent places. You were trav­el­ling all over Par­is, from one to the oth­er, it was quite dif­fer­ent from the kind of exper­i­ence here where everything is basic­ally with­in walk­ing distance.

I fol­lowed Pierre Fil­lioz­at, Fil­lioz­at fils, the son of Jean Fil­lioz­at. And Colette Cail­lat for Pali and, for me very import­ant, Char­lotte Vaudeville for Kabir Stud­ies. Kabir was very import­ant in my think­ing because I had read quite a bit of Kabir in Oslo with, not with Simonsson, but with anoth­er teach­er, Knut Kris­ti­ansen. I was really inter­ested in Kabir. I did quite a bit of Hindi at that time, before going to Paris.

Later when I star­ted my PhD work, I thought I would write about Kabir. That was my idea. But then, think­ing as a philo­lo­gist and his­tor­i­an, I had to start with what goes before, find his ori­gins and see what they could have been. And then I stumbled across these Caryāgīti, writ­ten in a lan­guage which is gen­er­ally called Old Bengali. Then I star­ted study­ing this text, and that was it. I nev­er got bey­ond them as far as my thes­is was concerned.

IN:      So in Par­is, it was mostly tex­tu­al studies?

PK:     It was tex­tu­al stud­ies, yes, prac­tic­ally only.

One thing I should men­tion, it’s a bit of a side-line, but I did read a lot of Avesta in Oslo with [Georg] Mor­gen­sti­erne, who was a great schol­ar, maybe not fam­ous as an Avesta schol­ar, but as an Ira­ni­an philo­lo­gist, and espe­cially for small, obscure East Ira­ni­an lan­guages. He was the great, still is the great, pil­lar of schol­ar­ship in that field. I had read a lot of Avesta with him. There were two of us. The oth­er per­son, Prods Skjær­vø, became pro­fess­or of Ira­ni­an Stud­ies at Har­vard even­tu­ally. So in Par­is, I went to Emile Ben­ven­iste’s Avesta sem­in­ar – and once again, we were only two students.

Mor­gen­sti­erne star­ted off with Tibetan Stud­ies. He did Tibetan Stud­ies in Ber­lin dur­ing the war. He did his PhD in 1917 on a Tibetan text. But then by chance, he got into Ira­ni­an Stud­ies. It was­n’t his plan. Then he got stuck in Ira­ni­an Stud­ies and became the great schol­ars of Ira­ni­an Stud­ies. But he kept an interest in Tibetan.

IN:      How was the atmo­sphere at the uni­ver­sity after the upris­ing [of 1968]?

PK:     In Par­is it was pretty tense. I mean, the spring 1969, already one year on, was still very tense. You had huge num­bers of riot police posi­tioned around, in front of the Panthéon and places like that. Just like they have today, the grey buses and full riot gear. It happened once, I remem­ber, Rue St Jacques, which goes down par­al­lel to the Sor­bonne, down to the River Seine, roughly speak­ing. I was halfway up and then sud­denly I saw people at the top run­ning down and some­body shouted, Run, run, run!

The police were known to be extremely bru­tal. When they charged, they would really just knock any­one down. People were killed and they were quite lib­er­al in their use of tear gas. Any­way, it was­n’t the police, it was just a false alarm, but that was the kind of atmo­sphere, I would say.

I was liv­ing in the inter­na­tion­al stu­dents’ hos­tels Com­pound, where all the stu­dents from dif­fer­ent coun­tries live in dif­fer­ent houses. On one occa­sion, on the inner ring-road that goes past this com­pound, on the oth­er side there were maybe 20, 30 anarch­ists with their black flags. That was a scare because if they turned up, then the police would come. Every­body felt that the left-wing stu­dents, they rioted, and they cut down all the trees on Boulevard Saint-Michel, for example, which was not for­giv­en eas­ily by oth­er people in Par­is, but they needed them to make bar­ri­cades. After that, of course, they put tar­mac on the boulevard. Before that it was cobble­stones, very handy if you want to fight with the police.

Any­way, people said they were really afraid of the anarch­ists because they were much more viol­ent and unpre­dict­able. They did­n’t organ­ise them­selves or have any slo­gans, they were just out to cre­ate anarchy. That was the per­cep­tion any­way. I’m sure the anarch­ists viewed it dif­fer­ently. It was a strong move­ment. I mean, in Spain, of course, dur­ing the Span­ish Civil War, the anarch­ists were quite import­ant groups. Any­way, that’s get­ting far from Tibetan Studies.

*** End of inter­view one. The second inter­view took place later the same day***

Studying at the University of Oslo, memories of Nils Simonsson

PK:     As I said, I had no par­tic­u­lar idea what I would study when I left school. So I did one year at a com­mer­cial col­lege, where my fath­er was teach­ing after he left the For­eign Ser­vice, because he did­n’t want to be pos­ted in dif­fer­ent places in the world. That year at the com­mer­cial col­lege was basic­ally a waste of time, and it was while I was doing the sec­ret­ari­al work and help­ing with set­ting up this school for Tibetans.

By the way, all of them went back to India after three years. But then over the fol­low­ing years, some of them filtered back to Nor­way in vari­ous ways. There are still about 10 of them or so liv­ing in or near Oslo. The Tibetan com­munity in Oslo is small but quite closely knit, quite act­ive, and amaz­ingly, as far as I know, without any major sort of feuds or dis­rup­tions. So it’s quite a pleas­ant, small com­munity. And I must add, some of them we still call them the Gjövik boys, and now they’re in their mid-six­ties, but they’re amongst my best friends in Oslo. Some, obvi­ously, I have known for most of my life and for even more of theirs. So, it’s not so strange.

So any­way, I did­n’t have any par­tic­u­lar ideas about Tibet­o­logy or even Indi­an Stud­ies, but I did­n’t want to study social eco­nomy, which was my father­’s field, nor law, which he also had a degree in. But I thought, okay, maybe I can do polit­ic­al sci­ence and then I could work with some sort of devel­op­ment agency in the Third World. That kind of ter­min­o­logy was cur­rent then.

Then it occurred to me that, I think maybe because of my back­ground – you see, in Nor­way at that time, in 1963, 1964, if you said the word ‘devel­op­ment aid’, the only place you would auto­mat­ic­ally think of was India, because of the fish­ery devel­op­ment pro­ject in Ker­ala in the early 1950s. It was quite a big thing, for the time at least. So, every­body knew about the so-called ‘Ker­ala pro­ject’, and that was syn­onym­ous with devel­op­ment aid. So I thought, well, if I’m going to do devel­op­ment aid even­tu­ally and go to India, I’d bet­ter learn an Indi­an language.

So I went to a small insti­tute in what was then called the His­t­or­ic­al- Philo­soph­ic­al Fac­ulty, now it’s called the Fac­ulty of Human­it­ies. There was small insti­tute there called the Indo-Ira­n­i­an Insti­tute, which had one pro­fess­or and one research assist­ant. That was the entire staff of the insti­tute. But they had a won­der­ful, big lib­rary, which this research assist­ant kept in impec­cable order, always.

So I went and talked to him, and I said, I’d like to study, and so on. And he said, Well, I’m start­ing a begin­ners’ course in Hindi in the autumn — this was just before sum­mer — you can join that. And then he said, But you did Lat­in at school, maybe it would be use­ful, since you’re famil­i­ar with that kind of lan­guage, if you did Sanskrit as well. It will help you with the vocab­u­lary — and so on. So he said, Go and talk to Pro­fess­or Nils Simonsson, the pro­fess­or of Indi­an lan­guage and lit­er­at­ure next door, and ask if you can join his course.

I was actu­ally doing Eng­lish – that was going to be my main sub­ject, one of the three sub­jects for BA. But I had­n’t decided on the sub­jects oth­er than Eng­lish, it was still open.

So I knocked on Nils Simonsson’s door and I explained my errand, and he said, Yes, you’re very wel­come. So I star­ted with Hindi and Sanskrit in the in the autumn besides Eng­lish, of course. I must say that Simonsson’s approach to teach­ing a lan­guage like Sanskrit was incred­ible. Not that he made it easy, on the con­trary the idea was you’d go straight into it. We star­ted read­ing texts after a couple of weeks. But it was really a bril­liant way, I thought any­way, I still think so. After two weeks, I knew, “This was it, I’m going to do Sanskrit”.

The insti­tute had exis­ted since the mid or late 1920s, if I remem­ber cor­rectly. But I was cer­tainly the first one who even­tu­ally took a Mas­ter in Sanskrit. They had had a num­ber of stu­dents over the years, but nobody took more than the BA level. So, it was a first.

Simonsson taught me his way of read­ing texts and com­ment­ar­ies at the same time, it was very use­ful. He would nev­er read a Ved­ic text without also read­ing Sāy­aṇa’s com­ment­ary on the side. You would read maybe some lines of the Brahma Sūtras and then you would read Shank­ara’s com­ment­ary and some sub-com­­ment­ary to Shank­ara, this was his way of working.

The oth­er teach­er there was the so-called research assist­ant, but the pos­i­tion was even­tu­ally made per­man­ent in his case. He was also very gif­ted in mod­ern Indi­an lan­guages, medi­ev­al and mod­ern lan­guages. So I did mod­ern Hindi. It was a course designed for Amer­ic­an Peace Corps work­ers. So I did that with a few oth­ers, and then we did many dif­fer­ent vari­et­ies of older Hindi such as Braj and Awadhi, and we also read Pali. We did a little bit of Sin­halese, because he liked to com­pare these dif­fer­ent lan­guages, how they worked out, and he would make notes show­ing how the gen­it­ive particles would be dif­fer­ent in all these dif­fer­ent lan­guages and so on.

Then I did Ira­ni­an Stud­ies. I mean, Avesta, with Pro­fess­or Georg Mor­gen­sti­erne. We would go through Gath­as or some oth­er Avesta, short text, and then for every oth­er word he would give us well thought-out, ety­mo­lo­gic­al com­ments based on all sorts of obscure lan­guages, in the Pamirs and so on, which he had stud­ied. It was, in one way, very ped­ago­gic­al. But you had to be recept­ive to this way of think­ing and not let it con­fuse you, but let it inspire you, which is why, when I went to Par­is, I atten­ded twice a week, two dif­fer­ent sem­inars of Émile Ben­ven­iste, who was a great lin­guist and one of the greatest Ira­ni­an Avesta schol­ars ever. Émile Ben­ven­iste, one French girl, and me. That was it.

Any­way, I did quite a bit of Ira­ni­an Stud­ies, but that was because I got this kind of back­ground. I also did a little bit of Mon­go­li­an with the pro­fess­or of lin­guist­ics in Oslo, Even Hovdhaugen.

Then Simonsson, to get back to him, was very excited when he heard that I was inter­ested in Tibetan and had Jaesch­ke’s gram­mar and so on, because he had stud­ied Tibetan after the war with Mar­celle Lalou in Par­is. He was trained in Stock­holm, but went down to Par­is for a year or six months or some­thing. That’s the way it was done. As I said, you had this freedom.

IN:      Who was his Sanskrit teacher?

PK:     They had sev­er­al people in Sweden who could teach Sanskrit at the time. We had an Itali­an man in our Sanskrit class, who had stud­ied avant-garde theatre in Poland, which was appar­ently quite act­ive there in the 1950s and 1960s, so his Pol­ish was flu­ent. This delighted Simonsson because his Rus­si­an was flu­ent, because he had been a Rus­si­an inter­pret­er. He just learnt Rus­si­an as part of his uni­ver­sity stud­ies. Then when the war came, there were some people who were interned in Sweden and who spoke Rus­si­an, Rus­si­ans or Latvi­ans or whatever, and they had to be inter­rog­ated. They needed people who could speak Rus­si­an. So that’s what he did dur­ing the war.

And then for fun, he sub­scribed to the daily issue of Helsingin San­o­mat, which is the largest Finnish-lan­guage news­pa­per in Hel­sinki, and got it every day at home. He read it just for enjoy­ment, just because he loved lan­guages. He was a good Tamil schol­ar. At one point after the BA, he said, Now you should decide, Tibetan’s fine, but you can­’t go to Tibet. He him­self had been to Tamil Nadu at one point, just for a short vis­it, but he had bought metres and metres of books in Tamil and brought them back to Oslo in the hope that some­body would want to study them.

You should do Tamil – and – they are such a beau­ti­ful people and it is such a pleas­ant place to be, why don’t you do Tamil instead? He would have been more than delighted to teach me the gram­mar and all that. But I said, No, no. By that time, I under­stood that I would do Sanskrit with Tibetan on the side.

So he allowed that. I could put quite a bit of Tibetan into my Sanskrit degree, which was actu­ally offi­cially not a degree in Sanskrit, but Indi­an lan­guage and lit­er­at­ure. In prac­tice, it was sup­posed to be Sanskrit. At the oral exam­in­a­tion, I was examined in read­ing and trans­lat­ing ex tem­pore (at the time) with exam­iners in the Avesta, Mon­go­li­an, Pali, Tibetan, and Sanskrit.

IN:       So it was five languages?

PK:     More or less. And Hindi, includ­ing Braj. So, there was this kind of approach where, of course, you did­n’t become a Mon­go­li­an schol­ar or a Pali schol­ar, but you learnt to handle the lan­guage, to be able to relate to a text, to under­stand the gram­mar, the struc­ture, how to use a dic­tion­ary in that lan­guage, and have some read­ing exper­i­ence. It was on that level, apart from Sanskrit, of course.

IN:      Did you also study oth­er aspects of Indi­an cul­ture, like history?

PK:     Well, I read. I was espe­cially inter­ested in art, Indi­an art, clas­sic­al art. I did read quite a bit about that, but it was­n’t in the curriculum.

IN:      So it was a lin­guist­ic train­ing at the university?

PK:     It was tex­tu­al, yes. I would say, philo­lo­gic­al train­ing, tra­di­tion­al, clas­sic­al philo­lo­gic­al work. But with this spe­cial approach of read­ing the com­ment­ar­ies, which is of course extremely use­ful in Tibetan context.

So he accep­ted that for my Mas­ter­’s. My Mas­ter­’s dis­ser­ta­tion was a study and a trans­la­tion of a Bön text, what is basic­ally a Dzo­gchen text. So there was no Sanskrit involved, but he said it did­n’t mat­ter, all this is derived from India, so it’s okay. Well, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche would not agree, but that’s anoth­er mat­ter. We did­n’t know about him then. There was no ques­tion of Zhang­zhung at all.

So, it was very lib­er­al. Very, very open. There was no cur­riculum. There was noth­ing like that. I had to sub­mit a cer­tain num­ber of pages for which I was account­able and would have to be able to com­ment on orally, and [there were] also writ­ten exams. We had long writ­ten exams, eight-hour exams; two exams, each last­ing eight hours. Trans­la­tion work with a dic­tion­ary. But for the oral exam you were not allowed to have a dic­tion­ary, you had to do the trans­la­tion there and then.

I remem­ber the Avesta text. I did reas­on­ably well but there was a verb there which means ‘to say’ but I could­n’t recog­nise it. It was a text I had sub­mit­ted, so I should know. But I did­n’t, I had for­got­ten it and did­n’t recog­nise it. Pro­fess­or Mor­gen­sti­erne was kind of sur­prised. I could under­stand his way of think­ing, how is it pos­sible not to know that this verb means ‘to say’?

In between that peri­od, I spent a peri­od in Par­is, and then returned and fin­ished my Mas­ter­’s in Oslo. Then I got a job at the Uni­ver­sity of Ber­gen. While I was there, I wrote my doc­tor­al thes­is, which was sub­mit­ted in Oslo because I wanted to get back to Oslo. I did­n’t like Bergen.

IN:      Did you write both your Mas­ter­’s and doc­tor­al thes­is by your­self? or were you work­ing with Bönpo scholars?

PK:     For the Mas­ter­’s, yes. There were some short bio­graph­ies I read by myself. Then there was a sys­tem­at­ic text, a sort of manu­al for the med­it­a­tion teach­er, and that I read with Sangye Ten­zin. He was in Oslo at the time, for about a year and a half. I was actu­ally able to bring him to Oslo. I was very for­tu­nate. We worked togeth­er almost daily. In fact, he lived with my fam­ily where I also lived, for about six, sev­en, eight months. Then we got a small room in a friend’s house, very close to the uni­ver­sity. He was paid by Simonsson, who got some money from the uni­ver­sity for him to teach Tibetan there.

So actu­ally, neither before nor since has Tibetan been spe­cific­ally taught by a per­son doing noth­ing else at the uni­ver­sity. I did teach Tibetan at some peri­ods. I did teach lit­er­ary Tibetan to stu­dents, but I did it as part of the way I defined my over­all work. I just did it, and it was okay.

Doctoral defence, memories of David Snellgrove

For my doc­tor­al defence, Simonsson and Mor­gen­sti­erne were on my exam­in­a­tion com­mit­tee. There is a first oppon­ent and a second oppon­ent, we don’t use ‘exam­iner’, and it’s called dis­pu­ta­tion. Here it’s a viva, of course. It’s usu­ally at the uni­ver­sity and there will be a big audi­ence with fam­ily, friends, stu­dents, teach­ers. At that time, when I did it, it would be in the news­pa­per, nation­al news­pa­pers would say that such and such gave a defence.

The defence and the oppos­i­tion, it’s very medi­ev­al. This would usu­ally go on for four or five hours and still does, usu­ally with a lunch break. It’s the only rel­ic we’ve still retained of aca­dem­ic cere­mo­ni­al. The dean, or some­body the dean appoints, has to preside, there are even phrases in Lat­in, believe it or not, and there are pro­ces­sions in and out, people get­ting up and stand­ing, and that kind of thing.

You are allowed to go and buy, accord­ing to which doc­tor­al degree you take in Philo­sophy or Medi­cine or Law, a ring, which is the doc­tor­al ring. Hanna Havnevik has also got the same doc­tor­al ring. So, it’s kind of a rel­ic of a time when being a Doc­tor of Philo­sophy was some­thing quite excep­tion­al. So mine came in 1974, but it was in the peri­od of trans­ition, you might say.

IN:      I think one of your oppon­ents was Dav­id Snellgrove?

PK:     Yes. I knew Snellgrove already because I’d been over to see him while I was in France.

I met Samten [Karmay] in Nor­way while Sangye Ten­zin was there, because they’re dis­tant cous­ins and they knew each oth­er, of course, from Eng­land and from Amdo as well. So Samten came over and vis­ited. So I knew Samten. When I was in Par­is, I went over to Eng­land to vis­it Samten, who was liv­ing some­where quite close to Lon­don. He had some­thing to do with SOAS. He was writ­ing his thes­is, which was pub­lished in 1972. He might have had some schol­ar­ship to do that, I’m not sure.

I met him and he intro­duced me sort of shyly, in a way, to a young lady with whom he was quite friendly, which was Heath­er [Stod­dard]. Then he took me out to Snellgrove’s place. So, I met Snellgrove and I said, I’m going to work on Bön Dzo­gchen for my Mas­ter­’s. I did, but I did just a tiny little pin­point sec­tion of it. I was think­ing far too broadly like I later did with Kabir.

He said, Well, I’ve got all these inter­est­ing texts, Zhang­zhung Nyengyü (Zhang zhung snyan rgy­ud) and oth­er texts, you can take them into Lon­don, you can pho­to­copy them at SOAS and bring them back. So I did. I still have those pho­to­cop­ies of Snellgrove’s texts. Now they’re in the Brit­ish Lib­rary, I think. So, that’s how I knew Snellgrove. Then we were a little bit, not much, but a little bit in touch. I did meet him in Par­is as well.

IN:      How was he as the oppon­ent? Was he strict?

PK:     We don’t have gowns, except the dean. We don’t use aca­dem­ic gowns. But he brought his. As he said, he thought it would give more glam­our to the event. Since he was the first oppon­ent, he stood at one end of the podi­um, I stood at the oth­er, and then the dean sits in the middle and tries to fol­low what’s going on. And he said, Ah, so you have stud­ied these songs in Old Bengali, the Chary­agiti. Well, will you sing one to us, please?

IN:      Did you?

PK:     Well, the text does say that each song should be men­tioned accord­ing to such and such a melody, but I had no idea. I don’t know if any­body had. It cer­tainly did­n’t interest me; I was inter­ested in the text. I don’t think any­body really was aware then that these songs actu­ally are still sung, but in Kath­mandu, by some of the vajrachary­as there. They actu­ally do sing them, not all of them, but cer­tain songs in some kind of Old Bengali language.

So I said, I can­’t sing them, but I can recite it for you. So, I recited one of them met­ric­ally. He was happy with that. No, he was­n’t par­tic­u­larly strict. I mean, he had remarks and things, which was fine. It was­n’t very stress­ing; except I was young and awed. The oth­er two pro­fess­ors, Mor­gen­sti­erne and Simonsson, I knew well. So I was quite con­fid­ent. Actu­ally, Mor­gen­sti­erne was just the third mem­ber, which means he was not an oppon­ent, he was just present. He did­n’t actu­ally have to say anything.

There was no oppos­i­tion, as we say, oppos­i­tion ex aud­itor­io (from the audi­ence), which is pos­sible in at least Nor­way and Den­mark, because we copied the Dan­ish sys­tem when we got our own uni­ver­sity in the early nine­teenth cen­tury. This means that after the first oppos­i­tion, the dean says, we’re hav­ing a break, if any­body in the audi­ence wishes to make an oppos­i­tion ex aud­itor­io, please inform me in the break and you will be giv­en the chance to do so. I’ve seen this hap­pen. It means some­body who has got some ser­i­ous objec­tion to the valid­ity of the thes­is, not just remarks, but some­thing ser­i­ous, which con­cludes that this thes­is should not be accep­ted, they can come up, any­one can come up and do that. It hap­pens occasionally.

In Nor­way, in recent his­tory, it’s been in theo­logy, as one can ima­gine. I’ve seen it hap­pen in Copen­ha­gen when I was the first oppon­ent for Chris­ti­an Lindtner, the Mad­hya­maka schol­ar. Anoth­er Dan­ish col­league of his got up and said, I wish to. Then he had to be allowed to do that. He had a long har­angue about why the thes­is was unworthy of the doc­tor­al degree, accord­ing to cer­tain short­com­ings, which he lis­ted, and which were, actu­ally, not irrel­ev­ant short­com­ings. Some we were aware of, but we did­n’t think the thes­is should be rejected.

Then you have to adjourn, and the com­mit­tee has to decide there and then if they will accept the oppos­i­tion ex aud­itor­io or not, wheth­er to pro­ceed or not. So, in that case, we decide to pro­ceed. Then, of course, the oppon­ent ex aud­itor­io, who later became pro­fess­or in Oslo in Per­sian, just marched out. I remem­ber Chris­ti­an Lindtner, who was a very iras­cible per­son, was also furi­ous. He called off the lunch after the oppos­i­tion, which was scan­dal­ous. One does­n’t do that because there should be a lunch or usu­ally din­ner, a big din­ner, after the disputation.

Teaching at the University of Bergen

IN:      When you were teach­ing in Ber­gen, you were teach­ing his­tory of reli­gions. Did you have to cov­er dif­fer­ent religions?

PK:     I gave short ele­ment­ary intro­duct­ory courses – also in Oslo, espe­cially the first years — in Ira­ni­an reli­gion, Chinese reli­gion, Hinduism, of course – but I was more com­pet­ent in doing that – the his­tory of ideas, and so on. There was quite a broad spec­trum of top­ics that you were expec­ted to be able to handle, but not neces­sar­ily based on your own research. This was the ele­ment­ary level, of course.

IN:      So, in fact, you have shif­ted a bit. The edu­ca­tion you received was very tex­tu­al based and philo­lo­gic­al. And then you were teach­ing theoretical.

PK:     I did also take his­tory of reli­gions as a sub­ject. You read these clas­sics or, if you don’t read them, you should at least know about them and know what they’re about. Also in anthro­po­logy, soci­ology of reli­gion, and so on. So, I had to do a bit of pre­par­a­tion for that, but again on a very ele­ment­ary level.

IN:      Hanna Havnevik also writes that your PhD thes­is was well received by Mir­cea Eli­ade, among oth­ers. Have you ever met him?

PK:     No, but he got a copy, a review copy, or a com­pli­ment­ary copy. I can­’t remem­ber how it was phrased. Prob­ably just a com­pli­ment­ary copy. He wrote a short review of it in the Chica­go journ­al His­tory of Reli­gions. Also Giuseppe Tucci. He wrote two lines to thank me.

IN:      Later Mir­cea Eli­ade asked you to write an entry for his Encyc­lo­pe­dia of Reli­gions?

PK:     Well yes, but he did­n’t per­son­ally ask me. He was a gen­er­al edit­or and I think that was mainly giv­ing his name to this big mul­tivolume thing. There was an edit­or­i­al board, so it was­n’t Eli­ade him­self. I did write a couple of entries there, yes.

Position at the University of Oslo

IN:      Then you worked in Oslo as a very young pro­fess­or. You stayed in this post until?

PK:     From 1975 to 2007. So, 32 years. At the end of which I thought I’d done my duty.

I was entitled to take early retire­ment because I’d been work­ing for so long. I could take it any­way, but I was entitled to get full pen­sion as tak­ing early retire­ment. So I thought I’d been teach­ing for 32 years and that was enough.

Then I took a break for some years before decid­ing to go back to Tibetan Stud­ies. I mean, I had­n’t stopped entirely. I had­n’t stopped tak­ing an interest, but I was­n’t read­ing very much at all and wrote noth­ing for some years, or next to noth­ing. So, it was a break, actually.

Interest in art, research on William McTaggart

I’ve always been inter­ested in art, as you’ve under­stood, but then around 2000, roughly, I developed a stronger interest in in West­ern art. This was actu­ally triggered by the fact that my fath­er, when we lived in Scot­land, became an avid col­lect­or of Scot­tish land­scape art from the second half of nine­teenth cen­tury. There was an auc­tion house in Glas­gow, Mor­ris­son and McCle­ary, and he was really a good cus­tom­er. He would buy some­thing every second week. He’d come home with a paint­ing or some­times he had to buy three or four to get the one he wanted because they were put togeth­er in lots just to get rid of them. So they were unsal­able paint­ings, some of which could only be sold for £2 or some­thing. There were masses and masses. I think the final num­ber with large and small paint­ings must have been close to 100 paint­ings, which he brought back home. Of course, some of them were rather expens­ive paint­ings by well-known artists.

When my par­ents passed away, we divided this col­lec­tion in the fam­ily, my two sis­ters and myself. He had also giv­en some to his grand­chil­dren and so on. All of it, prac­tic­ally all of it, is in the fam­ily. So, when I inher­ited some of the paint­ings I got more inter­ested. Not just being used to see­ing them, but ask­ing myself what is this actu­ally, who is this artist? From that, I developed this gen­er­al interest in West­ern art. Even­tu­ally, I wrote a book about the Scot­tish land­scape paint­er, Wil­li­am McTa­g­gart, which has been quite an adven­ture. I spent a lot of time in Scot­land in the years before it was pub­lished in 2007, vis­it­ing lib­rar­ies, gal­ler­ies, private collectors.

Later, after the book, I went to the places McTa­g­gart had been to and painted, to see the same exact place, to find out where he had been stand­ing. I did pub­lish this book, which was quite well received. I think they’ve sold about 1500 cop­ies, which is not much. On the oth­er hand, out­side Scot­land nobody knows about him, which is a pity because he’s actu­ally a great artist. I think he’s one of the great European artists.

McTa­g­gart did vis­it Lon­don occa­sion­ally to see the annu­al show at the Roy­al Academy. He did also con­trib­ute there for a few years and then he stopped. Many of his col­leagues moved down to Lon­don, where they could make much more money because Scot­tish land­scapes were very much in fash­ion. Wild and exot­ic, and misty, moun­tains, high­land cattle, and so on. He did­n’t paint that kind of paint­ing, actually.

Many asked him, why did­n’t you move to Lon­don like Peter Gra­ham, John MacWhirter, and quite a few [oth­ers]. He is reputed to have answered, I’d rather be num­ber one in my own coun­try, than num­ber two in anoth­er. He was actu­ally num­ber one in Scot­land, so he stayed there, had 14 chil­dren, and gen­er­ally con­trib­uted to Scot­tish cul­ture, I would say.

So I know one of his great grand­daugh­ters very well, she lives in Wok­ing. I’m very friendly with her fam­ily and often go to see them when I’m in Eng­land. Not this time, but we’re in touch all the time.

Position at the University of Oslo (part II)

IN:      Did you estab­lish Tibetan Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of Oslo?

PK:     Well, I can­’t say I estab­lished it. I taught it. I was able to sneak Tibetan top­ics into courses of Buddhism or if the course was about ritu­al, then I would use examples from Tibetan religion.

At a cer­tain point, seconded by Hanna, who was then a young uni­ver­sity lec­turer, we really tried to con­vince the fac­ulty to estab­lish Tibetan as a field of study like Korean and so on. They com­pletely refused. So I kept insist­ing, there were a couple of rounds of that. In the end, prob­ably just to have some peace and quiet, they said, Okay, we’ll nev­er, ever estab­lish Tibetan Stud­ies as such, but we will redefine your chair to be 50% His­tory of Reli­gions and 50% Tibetan Stud­ies.

That was a per­son­al thing. So when I retired that lapsed, of course. But it did give me the pos­sib­il­ity of teach­ing Tibetan to MA stu­dents. Some of them actu­ally wrote quite good dis­ser­ta­tions, at least a couple, using Tibetan sources, read­ing texts, mak­ing sense of it and so on. So that was­n’t wasted.

IN:      Which classes did you teach? You also taught his­tory of religions?

PK:     Yes, that’s where I had the great­er num­ber of stu­dents, of course. So that would be intro­duct­ory classes to Buddhism, Indi­an reli­gions, and things like that. I stopped doing Chinese reli­gion, Ira­ni­an, and so on. That was the first few years. Then I could say I won’t do it, and that was easi­er as time went by.

The whole uni­ver­sity sys­tem, as was the case in at least con­tin­ent­al Europe, was reor­gan­ised in the late 1980s and early 1990s, accord­ing to the so-called Bologna pro­cess, which has been the death knell of free research and mean­ing­ful uni­ver­sity activ­ity, in my opin­ion. Well, then everything had to be organ­ised in pro­grammes, not accord­ing to insti­tutes and sub­jects, but pro­grammes where you could com­bine all sorts of things. So, you would have a pro­gramme of East Asi­an Stud­ies or a pro­gramme of Reli­gious Stud­ies or a pro­gramme of West European lan­guages. So in the con­text of that, we did suc­ceed in estab­lish­ing a pro­gramme of Tibetan Stud­ies, but not includ­ing the teach­ing of Tibetan.

It was stated very clearly that you can­not be accep­ted unless you can show that either you’re a nat­ive speak­er, or you have got the neces­sary know­ledge of either mod­ern or clas­sic­al Tibetan from some­where else. So we did get stu­dents that had done Tibetan in Kath­mandu, at the Rangjung Yeshe Insti­tute, places like that, and could read Tibetan texts. There were a few in that category.

Then gradu­ally we got quite a lot of Tibetan stu­dents from Tibet. They used to take their MA in the con­text of this pro­gramme, but this pro­gramme has now been abol­ished by the fac­ulty for no spe­cified reas­on. I think they just hate Tibetan because the Chinese lobby, the Sino­lo­gist lobby is quite strong. That’s just a the­ory. Of course, I can­’t prove it.

Now you can still do Tibetan top­ics, but it has to be with­in His­tory of Reli­gions or with­in East Asi­an Stud­ies. And there’s no lan­guage teaching.

IN:      So you must have had many, many students?

PK:     Well, the His­tory of Reli­gions would attract a great num­ber of stu­dents because it was a sub­ject which you could use if your aim was to become a teach­er in a sec­ond­ary school. In Nor­way, they teach His­tory or Reli­gion as a com­puls­ory sub­ject, actu­ally, in sec­ond­ary schools. It’s quite a good sub­ject to take, com­bined with, let’s say, a lan­guage. So there were lots, actually.

IN:      Was Hanna Havnevik your main student?

PK:     Yes, I guess so. She came quite early and had this interest. She wrote an excel­lent Mas­ter­’s thes­is, which was pub­lished as a book. Her book, Tibetan Buddhist Nuns, is actu­ally her Mas­ter­’s thes­is, which has also been trans­lated into French by Françoise Pom­maret. It’s been pub­lished in France, I have a copy. It’s more or less the first book on Tibetan nuns. Not the first thing ever writ­ten, I think, but cer­tainly the first monograph.

Then later, she did her PhD, which I was involved in as her super­visor. It was on Ani Lochen, the Tibetan yogini who trav­elled all over the Him­alay­an area. She finally settled down at Shug­seb Mon­as­tery out­side Lhasa and then dic­tated, I think, this auto­bi­o­graphy, which is quite inter­est­ing and is also full of inter­est­ing eth­no­graph­ic and his­tor­ic­al detail. She trav­elled with her old moth­er all over the place, and all their lug­gage was car­ried by a big goat, a billy goat, who was their dearest friend because he was big and strong and car­ried all their things.

Inter­est­ingly, Ani Lochen writes that on one occa­sion some­body gave them tea leaves as an offer­ing because they were beg­ging, of course, all the way. They had no idea what to do with it. That’s inter­est­ing. So what they did was, they thought it was a veget­able, which is true in a way, so they boiled it and strained off the water. Then they thought they could eat the leaves like some sort of spin­ach or some­thing. They could­n’t eat it, they said it was too bit­ter. It’s inter­est­ing. It shows that the really poor Tibetans, at least in cent­ral and west Tibet, had no idea what tea was. So that was not some­thing which every­body used to drink, as recently as the turn of the century.

The Network for University Co-operation Tibet-Norway

There were oth­ers who did do Tibetan Stud­ies, includ­ing some Tibetans from Tibet, who were on this pro­gramme. This pro­ject, which has worked for 20 years is now actu­ally on hold, let’s say, from the Tibetan side, and has recently been dis­con­tin­ued by the Nor­we­gi­an side.

IN:      I was going to ask you about it, how was it established?

PK:     That was the ini­ti­at­ive of a col­league of mine, Pro­fess­or Jens Braar­vig. He was in Ber­gen as a stu­dent when I was there as a young uni­ver­sity lec­turer. He’s only a couple of years young­er than me. He learnt a bit of Tibetan from me there.

Later, he did Sanskrit in Oslo and even­tu­ally got his MA in Oslo. Then he wrote his PhD, which he got in Oslo, and even­tu­ally became a pro­fess­or. He’s also a per­son with an interest in a great range of lan­guages. He does Chinese, his Greek is very good, appar­ently, I don’t know Greek myself. My Lat­in’s fine but I don’t know Greek. He has a weekly class in Sumeri­an. This is totally off the record, he gets no cred­it for it, but he’s been able to estab­lish some­thing called ‘mul­ti­lin­gual text read­ing’ or some­thing like that. This is a class with a couple of people com­ing for Sumeri­an. He’s got that that kind of broad interest.

He was inter­ested, like so many oth­ers, to see if he could get his hands on Indi­an palm leaf manu­scripts of ancient Tibetan Buddhist texts, pre­served in the Potala. He was­n’t very suc­cess­ful and nobody else has been either, as far as I know, at least to any sig­ni­fic­ant extent. He thought — but when I’m say­ing he thought, it is only what I think — that if he could set up a broad­er cooper­a­tion struc­ture with the Tibetans in Lhasa, then with­in that frame­work it could be done. I think that was the idea.

Any­way, it did get quite good sup­port from the Uni­ver­sity of Oslo. He [also] got good fin­an­cial sup­port, ini­tially from the min­is­ter of for­eign affairs in Oslo. This was 22 years ago, so, 1995. At that time, the pro-Tibet lobby in the Nor­we­gi­an par­lia­ment was very strong. Out of 165 mem­bers, they had about 90 mem­bers, which is quite a lot. For a peri­od, there was a con­sid­er­able con­scious­ness about the Tibet issue. Also, inter­na­tion­ally, by the way.

The Nor­we­gi­an gov­ern­ment was under pres­sure from the par­lia­ment, without any res­ol­u­tions being passed. But it under­stood they were actu­ally under pres­sure to do some­thing. So they made it clear that they would not take up the issue of Tibet polit­ic­ally, like dis­cuss­ing the status of Tibet with China. They would not do that. But they would gen­er­ously fund an ini­ti­at­ive to pro­mote cooper­a­tion and devel­op between our two coun­tries, Nor­way and Tibet, research and high­er edu­ca­tion in Tibet itself. So with this eco­nom­ic back­ing from the min­istry, it was feasible.

Then the uni­ver­sity liked it because it was fin­anced extern­ally and it was some­thing quite new and quite inter­est­ing. So the four uni­ver­sit­ies, Oslo, Ber­gen, Trond­heim, and Trom­sö in the far north, set up a com­mit­tee with this fin­an­cial back­ing. Then they con­tac­ted Tibet, through vari­ous con­tacts that Jens and some oth­ers had. I had no such con­tacts because I was so involved in the polit­ic­al solid­ar­ity work at the time that I did­n’t have this kind of good con­tacts. I had con­tacts with par­lia­ment­ari­ans, but not with the ministry.

The Tibetans liked it. A del­eg­a­tion came, and everything was signed and set up for exchange of stu­dents, a joint pro­ject of research in Tibet, and so on. Also, the pres­ence of a Nor­we­gi­an uni­ver­sity lec­turer in Eng­lish at the Tibet Uni­ver­sity, a post which was con­tinu­ously there for all this peri­od of time, and even later.

IN:      Which year was it established?

PK:     It was in 1995.

IN:      So it was a Chinese delegation?

PK:     Mainly Tibetans with one or two Chinese. It was­n’t a big del­eg­a­tion, maybe four or five people. It was not some­thing you had to nego­ti­ate for years with a lot of oppos­i­tion, hurdles, and prob­lems. Not at all. From the Nor­we­gi­an side, we nev­er, ever nego­ti­ate with Beijing, with any­one in Beijing. Only with Lhasa. Ini­tially it was Tibet Uni­ver­sity and the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences.

This went on and on for 20 years. In those 20 years, up to three years ago, about 100 Tibetans, mainly from TAR but not only, got their got their MA in Nor­way and about 12 got their PhDs. Only one PhD, up to then, in Tibetan Stud­ies. Well, one in art his­tory, but it was con­tem­por­ary Tibetan art, Tse­wang Tashi, who was the pro­fess­or of art at Tibet Uni­ver­sity. Oth­er­wise in Bio­logy, Cli­mate Stud­ies, Maths, and so on. We always said, Tibetan Stud­ies was just a small part of it. Whatever we can offer, we have no agenda. You tell us what you want and if we can offer it in Eng­lish, we will offer it in Eng­lish. So it worked quite well.

Then for polit­ic­al reas­ons it was not rat­i­fied the last time. Every three years the camp came up for renew­al. That did­n’t hap­pen three years ago, unfor­tu­nately. But the stu­dents who were still in Nor­way have been able to fin­ish their stud­ies. It has­n’t been like every­body had to go back or any­thing like that, except one young lady who went back because she became preg­nant. She wanted to have her baby in Lhasa, but she’s still actu­ally on the pro­gramme and I hope she will be able to deliv­er her PhD as well.

IN:      Did all the Tibetans then return to Tibet? Which jobs did they have?

PK:     Many already had jobs on a juni­or level, I would sup­pose, at uni­ver­sity, Tibet Academy, or oth­er places out­side TAR. So they would go back to their jobs. Oth­ers got jobs when they returned without, as far as I know, any prob­lem. No one has remained behind. Although there have been a couple of cases that we know of where they went back but then even­tu­ally, they moved out. One is mar­ried in Japan and one has gone to Canada, but none to Nor­way. They’ve gone back to Tibet and then they’ve gone off. So it’s not our problem.

IN:      They might be quite influ­en­tial in Tibet?

PK:     In one way, yes. In a Tibetan con­text it’s quite a few young people, and they’ve had any­thing from at least two years here. Most would have had three or four. Some have done their MA plus their PhDs and would have been here for six or sev­en years. So, yes, of course, that that is not negligible.

On the oth­er hand, it does­n’t seem that these [indi­vidu­als] tend to get appoin­ted to the really top-notch jobs that carry real influ­ence on uni­ver­sity policy and so on. That’s reserved for oth­ers, I think. Wheth­er that has to do with the fact that they’ve been abroad and absorbed the for­eign ideas or not, I can­’t say. But all of them have returned and have gone back and forth in their hol­i­days and so on. There’s nev­er been a prob­lem that sud­denly they haven’t turned up or their pass­ports have been taken. This has­n’t happened. Not for Lhasa even. So, all in all, it’s been quite successful.

Now, with the new devel­op­ment that I hin­ted at between Nor­way and China, I would not be sur­prised if in some time it might be pos­sible to renew it. When it was not renewed, there was doubt if the Nor­we­gi­an gov­ern­ment would still fund it or would they shut the whole thing down, in which case it would be dif­fi­cult to start it again. But they’ve had the con­sult­ants, the reports, and stuff like that, which have been pre­pared. The con­clu­sion seems to be, as far as I’m aware, that they will not shut it down, but they will down­grade it a bit. It can be revived in a more act­ive form. There will be some­body employed, like a sec­ret­ary and so on. So we’ll see what hap­pens. There are also con­tacts with Min­zu, Xin­ing, and so on. If Lhasa can­’t come onboard, then maybe some of these oth­er insti­tu­tions can.

 The establishment of Tibetan and Himalayan studies at the University of Oxford

IN:      Were you also involved in the estab­lish­ment of Tibetan Stud­ies here in Oxford, with Anthony Aris?

PK:     Yeah, I was involved. Actu­ally, I was involved by Michael Aris because he wanted to estab­lish a centre of Tibetan Stud­ies. Ini­tially it was at St. Ant­ony’s, if I remem­ber cor­rectly. There was the Warden of St Anthony’s, Sir Mar­rack Gould­ing, whose past was in the for­eign ser­vice and United Nations dip­lomacy in the Balkans, that kind of back­ground. He retired from that and was then hired by St Ant­ony’s Col­lege as its Warden to fun­draise and gen­er­ally be the admin­is­trat­ive head of it.

At that time, this was just a thought. Michael and he took vari­ous con­tacts with dif­fer­ent people. Then Michael became ill. His ill­ness did­n’t really last very long, it developed quite quickly. But he did want to set up the centre, and they were quite inter­ested in doing that at St Ant­ony’s. So, I came here many times because of that, because there were meet­ings and dis­cus­sions, and they had a build­ing in mind that they could buy or rent. It was close to the col­lege and would be suit­able. There were all sorts of thoughts.

When he was in hos­pit­al, Michael said to me, I want you to be the first dir­ect­or of this place. What could I say? I said, yes, of course. After Michael passed away, then it fell on Anthony to carry this on. I did­n’t know Anthony that well before, but gradu­ally we became very close friends, I must say. So, he car­ried on.

Quite soon it became clear that St Ant­ony’s was­n’t going to do it after all. What I was told, or what I was made to under­stand, was that they would­n’t really do it because they had­n’t had centres like that before, and this would be quite a big thing, rel­at­ively speak­ing. It would become too con­cen­trated, too many Tibet­o­lo­gists. So, they pulled out, and that was basic­ally the end of that aspect.

But then, of course, came the idea of get­ting a per­man­ent chair of Tibetan Stud­ies here. This is very com­plic­ated. I don’t know much about it because while I did­n’t exactly with­draw, it developed some­what without my par­ti­cip­a­tion after a cer­tain point. One per­son that prob­ably could sup­ple­ment and knows a bit about this is Richard Gom­brich. He was on this from the begin­ning, being the seni­or pro­fess­or of Buddhist Stud­ies. I’m sure he can give you some insight in what actu­ally happened.

IN:      Do you know what was Michael Aris’ vision?

PK:     His vis­ion was to have a phys­ic­al centre of Tibetan Stud­ies with someone organ­ising work­shops and things, and people com­ing and going, vis­it­ing lec­tures, and so on. That was his vision.

IN:      And one per­man­ent chair?

PK:     Well, yes, but wheth­er that chair would be at the centre or loc­ated some­where else was not the major issue. It was more to cre­ate a centre of activ­ity, the pres­ence and vis­ib­il­ity of Tibetan Stud­ies at Oxford. I think that was his idea.

Even­tu­ally it worked out the way it has worked out, which is very good. I also think that Anthony under­stood that set­ting up a phys­ic­al centre, with its own admin­is­tra­tion and so on, would be quite a major under­tak­ing. He wanted to pro­mote things, but I don’t think he really wanted to have to spend the rest of his life strug­gling to keep it going. So, I think when Wolf­son came up as an altern­at­ive to St. Ant­ony’s, and the solu­tion was found there, it was a very good solution.

Com­ing soon!

Additional info


(1) A Nor­we­gi­an Trav­el­ler in Tibet. Theö Sörensen and the Col­lec­tion of Tibetan Books at the Uni­ver­sity of Oslo Lib­rary, New Del­hi (Mañjushri), 102 pp.  [Bib­lio­theca Him­alay­ica, Series I, vol. 13].



(2) An Antho­logy of Buddhist Tan­tric Songs. A Study of the Caryâgîti, Oslo (Uni­versitets­for­la­get), ix+275 pp.  [Det Nor­ske Videnskap­saka­demi.  II.Hist.Filos. Klasse.  Skrift­er, Ny Serie No. 14].  Doc­tor­al dissertation.


  1. Journ­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies, vol. 1 (1978), pp. 77–79 (Satya Ran­jan Banerjee).
  2. Journ­al Asi­atique, vol. 266, 3–4 (19 ??), pp. 374–375 (Jean Filliozat).
  3. Kailash, vol. 6, 4 (1978), pp. 288–289 (A.W. Macdonald).
  4. The Tibet Soci­ety Bul­let­in, vol. 12 (1978), pp. 56–57 (A. Bharati).
  5. Acta Ori­entalia, vol. 41 (1980), pp. 105–109 (K.R. Norman).
  6. His­tory of Reli­gions, vol. 22, 4 (1983), pp. 392–393 (Mir­cea Eliade).



Tibetan Stud­ies presen­ted at the Sem­in­ar of Young Tibet­o­lo­gists, Zürich, June 26- July 1, 1977, Zürich (??), ?? pp.  [“Intro­duc­tion” (Mar­tin Brauen and Per Kvaerne), pp. 3–4].


Archiv Ori­entál­ní, vol. 48 (1980), pp. 362–363 (Josef Kolmas).



(3) Tibet. Bon Reli­gion. A Death Ritu­al of the Tibetan Bon­pos, Leiden (Brill), xii+34 pp. + 48 plates [Icon­o­graphy of Reli­gions XII,13].


*In: Xiz­ang Min­zuxuey­uan Xue­bao, vol. 1,2, Xian­yang (Shaanxi) (1988), pp. 71–78 [Intro­du­cing the author, p. 71; trans­la­tion of chaps. 1 and 2 (= (3) pp. 3–10).


  1. Tibet For­um, vol.4, 3 (1985) (W‑G).
  2. The Journ­al of the Tibet Soci­ety, vol. 5 (1985), pp. 103–104 (Dan Martin).
  3. Acta Ori­entalia, vol. 47 (1986), pp. 202–208 (Leonard W. J. van der Kuijp).
  4. His­tory of Reli­gions, vol. 26, 2 (1986) (Arnold L. Aronoff).
  5. Nou­velle Revue Théo­lo­gique, Namur (1987), pp. 144–145 (J. Sch.).
  6. Eth­nos, vol. 52, 3–4 (1987), pp. 401–402 (Gudrun Hegardt).
  7. The Journ­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Buddhist Stud­ies, vol. 10, 2 (1987),
  8. 175–177 (Michael Aris).
  9. Zeits­chrift der deutschen mor­gen­ländis­chen Gesell­schaft, vol. 137, 1 (1987), pp. 215–216


  1. The Tibet Journ­al, vol. 13, 2 (1988), pp. 45–46 (Per K. Sörensen).
  2. Temenos, vol. 24 (1988), pp. 188–190 (Tore Ahlbäck).
  3. Bul­let­in of the School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies, vol. 51, 1 (1988), pp. 160–161

(T. Skorupski).

  1. Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al, vol. 26, 2 (1988).
  2. Wien­er Zeits­chrift KS ???, vol. 33 (1989), pp. 234–235 (H. Tauscher).



(4) Songs of the Mys­tic Path, Bangkok (White Orch­id Press), 1986.  Reprint of (2), with “Pre­face to the Second Edi­tion”, pp. v‑vii.


Price­less Col­lec­tion of Buddhist Tan­tric Songs for Ser­i­ous Read­ing”, Bangkok Post, 13.8.1987, p. 34 (Peter Skilling).



Bon, Buddhism and Demo­cracy. The Build­ing of a Tibetan Nation­al Iden­tity, Per Kværne and Rinzin Thargy­al, Copen­ha­gen (NIAS): “Intro­duc­tion”, pp. 5–6; “Reli­gious Change and Syn­cret­ism: the Case of the Bon Reli­gion of Tibet”, pp. 9–26.  [NIAS Report no. 12].



Tibetan Stud­ies. Pro­ceed­ings of the 6th Sem­in­ar of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation for Tibetan Stud­ies, Fagernes 1992, 2 vols., Per Kvaerne (ed.), Oslo (Insti­tute for Com­par­at­ive Research in Human Cul­ture). [“sNgon-brjod/­­Fore­­word”, vol. 1, pp. i‑vi; vol. 1, photo on cover].



(5) The Bon Reli­gion of Tibet.  The Icon­o­graphy of a Liv­ing Tra­di­tion, Lon­don (Ser­in­dia Pub­lic­a­tions), 155 pp (incl. 60 col­our plates).  [Also pub­lished Boston (Shambhala), 1986; reprint 2001].



  1. Revue Bib­li­o­graph­ique de Sino­lo­gie, 1996, pp. 174–175 (Anne Chayet).
  2. Arts Asi­atiques, vol. 51 (1996), p. 164 (Anne Chayet).
  3. East and West, vol. 46, 3–4 (1996), p. 518–520 (Ramón Prats).
  4. Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Cien­cas de las Reli­giones, vol. 6 (1996), pp. 57–59

(Ramón Prats).

  1. The Mir­ror, no. 39 (Feb./March 1997) (Andy Lukianowicz).
  2. Ori­ent­a­tions, vol. 29, 9 (Octo­ber 1998), p.110 (Deborah Klimburg-Salter).
  3. Acta Ori­entalia Aca­demi­ae Sci­en­tiar­um Hun­gar­icae, vol. 51, 1–2 (Alice Sárközi).
  4. Him­alay­an Research Bul­let­in, vol. 30,1 (1999), pp. 63–64 (Dona­tella Rossi).


2013 (Intro­duc­tion, pp. 9–23).



(6) The Stages of A‑Khrid Med­it­a­tion. Dzo­gchen Prac­tice of the Bon Tra­di­tion, Per Kvaerne and Thub­ten K. Rikey (trans.), Dharam­sala (Lib­rary of Tibetan Works and Archives), ??? pp.



(7) Die Myth­o­lo­gie der Bon-Reli­­gion und der tibet­ischen Volk­s­re­li­gion, Stut­tgart (Klett-Cotta), ??? pp.  [Wör­ter­buch der Reli­gion.  1. Abteilung, 33. Liefer­ung, pp. 831–875 (pub­lished as a sep­ar­ate fascicle)].



(8) A Cata­logue of the Bon Kan­jur, Dan Mar­tin, Per Kværne, Yas­uhiko Nagano (eds.), Osaka (Nation­al Museum of Eth­no­logy), iv+799 pp. [“Fore­word”, pp. iii-iv; Bon Stud­ies 8.  Senri Eth­no­lo­gic­al Reports 40].

Cent­ral Asi­at­ic Journ­al, vol. 49, 2 (2005), pp. 311–314 (Helmut Eimer).



(10) Un peintre nor­vé­gi­en au Louvre. Ped­er Balke (1804–1887) et son temps, Sous la dir­ec­tion de Per Kværne et Magne Mal­manger, Oslo (Novus Press/ The Insti­tute for Com­par­at­ive Research in Human Cul­ture), 202 pp.  [“Avant-pro­­pos”, pp. 7–8; Insti­tut­tet for sam­men­lign­ende kul­turfor­skning, Serie B: Skrift­er CCIX].



(11) “Singing Songs of the Scot­tish Heart”.  Wil­li­am McTa­g­gart 1835–1910, Edin­burgh (Atelier Books), 288 pp. (incl. 267 ill.).


  1. 1. Scot­tish Art News, No. 9 (2008), p. 56 (Francesca Baseby and Hay­ley Brown).
  2. Journ­al of the Scot­tish Soci­ety for Art His­tory, vol. 13 (2008–2009), pp. 67–68

(John Purs­er).

  1. The Kintyre Magazine, No. 68 (2010), pp. 14–15 (Angus Martin).



(12) “Le vie del Sac­ro. L’avventura spir­ituale di uno storico delle reli­gioni fra Tibet e Sac­ri Monti/ Paths to the Sac­red. The spir­itu­al adven­ture of a his­tor­i­an of reli­gions from Tibet to Sac­ri Monti, Crea, Ponzano Mon­fer­rato (Centro di Doc­u­mentazione dei Sac­ri Monti, Cal­vari e Complessi devozion­ali europei), 158 pp.  [Bilin­gual text Itali­an-Eng­l­ish, numer­ous col­our plates, incl. 19 pho­tos by the author].


  1. Articles.


Remarques sur l’administration d’un mon­astère bon-po”, Journ­al Asi­atique, vol. 258, pp. 187–192 + 2 plates.


A Chro­no­lo­gic­al Table of the Bon-po.  The bstan-rcis of Ñi-ma bstan-‘jin”, Acta Ori­entalia, vol 33, pp. 205–282.

Un nou­veau doc­u­ment relatif à l’épopée tibé­taine de Gesar”, Bul­let­ing de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient, vol. 58, pp. 221–230 + 1 plate.


Aspects of the Ori­gin of the Buddhist Tra­di­tion in Tibet”, Numen, vol. 19,1, pp. 22–40.  See also (??).


Bonpo Stud­ies. The A‑Khrid Sys­tem of Med­it­a­tion”, Kailash, 1,1, pp. 19–50 and 1,4 247–332.  [Dis­ser­ta­tion for the degree of Magister Arti­um, Oslo Uni­ver­sity 1970]. See also A (6).

“Com­par­at­ive Reli­gion: Whith­er – and Why ?”  A Reply to Wil­fred Can­t­well Smith”, Temenos, vol. 9, pp. 161–168.  [Reply by W.C. Smith, ““The Fin­ger that Points to the Moon”. Reply to Per Kværne”, Temenos, vol. 9, pp. 169–172].


The Can­on of the Tibetan Bon­pos”, Indo-Ira­n­i­an Journ­al, vol. 16,1, pp. 18–50 and 16,2, pp. 96–144.


Intro­duc­tion”, René de Nebesky-Wojkow­itz, Oracles and Demons of Tibet, Graz (reprint: Akademis­che Druck- und Ver­lag­san­stalt [1956]), pp. iii-xix.

Trans­la­tion of “Intro­duc­tion”:
*? Lhasa 1987, pp. 150–168.


Archiv Ori­entál­ní, vol. 45 (1977), pp.  360–361 (Josef Kolmas).

On the Concept of Sahaja in Indi­an Buddhist Tan­tric Lit­er­at­ure”, Temenos, vol. 11, pp. 88–135.


Le Caryāgītikoṣa”, Inde Ancienne. Act­es du XXIXe Con­grès inter­na­tionale des Ori­ent­al­istes, Par­is, Juil­let 1973. Sec­tion organ­isée par Jean Fil­lioz­at, pp. 68–72.

“Research Course “Minor­ity, Cul­ture and Com­munity”.  Report from Group 3. The World-view Ori­ented Group”, NIF News­let­ter, 1976/3, pp. 14–16.

The Gen­es­is of the Tibetan Buddhist Tra­di­tion”, Tibetan Review, vol. 11, 3 (March 1976), pp. 9–15.  See also ??

Who are the Bon­pos ?”,  Tibetan Review, vol. 11, 9 (Septem­ber 1976), pp. 30–33.  See also ??


Who are the Bon­pos ?”, Com­mu­nic­a­tions of the Alex­an­der Csoma de Körös Insti­tute for Buddho­logy, vol. 6, 1–2, Bud­apest, pp. 41–47.

Sem­in­ar of Young Tibet­o­lo­gists”, Tibetan Review, vol. 12, 8 (August 1977), pp. 7–9. [“From Our Spe­cial Correspondent”].

Con­tinu­ity and Change in Tibetan Mon­ast­i­cism”, in: Korean and Asi­an Reli­gious Tra­di­tion, Toronto (??), pp. 83–98.  [Trans­la­tion of (??)].


A Tibetan Death Cere­mony”, Mar­tin Brauen and Per Kværne, Temenos, vol. 14, pp. 9–11.

[Authored by Per Kværne: pp. 9–11].

The Vis­it of Prince Wal­de­mar of Prus­sia to Nepal in Feb­ru­ary and March 1845”, Kailash, vol. 7, 1, pp. 35–50.  [Trans­la­tion from ????, pp. ??].


Mon­gols and Khitans in a 14th-cen­tury Tibetan Bonpo Text”, Acta Ori­entalia Hun­gar­ica, vol. 34, 1–3, pp. 85–104.


*Lhasa    (1987), pp. 119–136 (Chinese).

The Bon­pos of Tibet – An His­tor­ic­al Enigma”, His­tory of Reli­gions. Pro­ceed­ings of the Thir­teenth Con­gress IAHR Lan­caster 1975, Michael Pye and Peter McK­en­zie (eds.), Leicester 1980, pp. 45–46. [Leicester Stud­ies in Reli­gion, vol. 2].

A Pre­lim­in­ary Study of Chap. VI of the gZer-mig”, Tibetan Stud­ies in Hon­our of Hugh Richard­son, ed. Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi, Warmin­ster (Aris and Phil­lips Ltd.), pp. 185–191. [Pro­ceed­ings of the Inter­na­tion­al Sem­in­ar on Tibetan Stud­ies, Oxford 1979].


A bib­li­o­graphy of the works of Siegbert Hum­mel”, Acta Ori­entalia, vo. 42, pp. 89–106.

Dic­tion­naire des myth­o­lo­gies, 2 vols., Yves Bon­nefoy (ed.), Par­is (Flam­mari­on): “Anthro­po­go­niques (mythes). Au Tibet”, vol. 1, pp. 42–45; “Cos­mogo­niques (mythes). Au Tibet”, vol. 1, pp. 249–252; “Ori­gines. Leur import­ance dans la myth­o­lo­gie tibé­taine”, vol. 2, pp. 194–195; “Roy­auté divine. Au Tibet”, vol. 2, pp. 381–384; “Tibet. La myth­o­lo­gie, Intro­duc­tion au problème”, vol. 2, pp. 495–497.  [Reprint, paper­back and without illus­tra­tions, 1999].


See (??) (Eng­lish); *Mil­ano (Rizzo­lo), 19?? (Itali­an).

Georg Mor­gen­sti­erne and Tibetan Stud­ies”, The Journ­al of the Tibet Soci­ety, Bloom­ing­ton, Indi­ana, vol. 1, pp.40–43.

A Bonpo Ver­sion of the Wheel of Exist­ence”, Tan­tric and Taoist Stud­ies in Hon­our of R.A. Stein, ed. Michel Strick­mann, Bruxelles, pp. 274–289. [Mélanges Chinois et Bouddhiques, vol. 20].


Pre­face”, in: Tadeusz Skorupski, Tibetan Amu­lets, Bangkok (White Orch­id Press), pp. vii-xi. Reprint (Orch­id Books) 2010.

’The Great Per­fec­tion’ in the Tra­di­tion of the Bon­pos”, in: Whalen Lai and Lewis R. Lan­caster (eds.), Early Ch’an in China and Tibet, Berke­ley, pp. 367–392.  [Berke­ley Buddhist Stud­ies Series, vol. 5].


Tibet: the Rise and Fall of a Mon­ast­ic Tra­di­tion”, chap. 10 in: Heinz Bech­ert and Richard Gom­brich (eds.), The World of Buddhism. Buddhist Monks and Nuns in soci­ety and Cul­ture, Lon­don (Thames and Hud­son), pp. 253–270.  [Reprint, paper­back, 1991].


Die Welt des Buddhis­mus, München (??), 1984, pp. 253–271 (Ger­man; transl. Jens-Uwe Hart­man).  [Reprint ????].

Le monde du bouddhisme, Par­is (Bor­das), 1984, pp. 247–263 (French; transl. Her­vé Denès).


Journ­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation for Buddhist Stud­ies, vol. 8,1 (1985), pp. 126–133 (Roger Jackson).

Göt­tingis­che Gelehrte Anzei­ger, vol. 237, 3–4 (1985), pp. 293–305 (Georg von Simson).

Acta Ori­entalia, vol. 46 (1985), pp. 214–217 (Peter Schalk).


Croy­ances pop­u­laires et folk­lores au Tibet”, in: Mythes et croy­ances du monde entière, 6 vols., Par­is (Edi­tions Lid­is), vol. 4, pp. 157–169.  [*Reprint vol. 4, new title L’Asie. Mythes et tra­di­tions, ??? (Brepols)].


An Invoc­a­tion of the Bonpo Deity Ñi-pan-sad”, Ant­werps Tibet-Sym­­posi­um 1971–1986, Ant­wer­pen (private cir­cu­la­tion only), pp. 38–46.

Pein­tures tibé­taines de la vie de sTon-pa-gçen-rab”, Arts Asi­atiques, vol. 41, pp. 36–81.


Pp. 36–39, (??).

The ‘Water-mir­acle’ in Tibet”, in: Eivind Kahrs (ed.), Kalyâ­namitrârâganam. Essays in Hon­our of Nils Simonsson, Oslo (Uni­versitets­for­la­get), pp. 159–164.  [Insti­tut­tet for sam­men­lign­ende kul­turfor­skning, Serie B: Skrift­er LXX].

Her­man Lud­in Jansen (1905–1986)”, Temenos, vol. 22, pp. 142–144.


Dual­ism in Tibetan Cos­mogon­ic Myths and the Ques­tion of Ira­ni­an Influ­ence”, in: Chris­toph­er I. Beck­with (ed.), Sil­ver on Lapis. Tibetan Lit­er­ary Cul­ture and His­tory, Bloom­ing­ton, Indi­ana (The Tibet Soci­ety), pp. 163–174.

The Encyc­lo­pe­dia of Reli­gion, 16 vols., ed. Mir­cea Eli­ade, New York (Mac­mil­lan), “Bon”, vol. 2, pp. 277–280; “Tibetan Reli­gions. An Over­view”, vol. 14, pp. 497–504. [Reprin­ted, (??)].

“Bön-reli­­gion­en”, Tid­skriften Tibet, 1989/1–2, pp. 7–12 (Swedish). [The art­icle “Bon”].

Bon”, M. Eli­ade (ed.), Enciclo­pe­dia delle Reli­gioni vol. 13  [Reli­gioni dell’Estremo Ori­ente], Mil­ano (Jaca Book) 2007, pp. 59–62 + transl. of Tibetan Reli­gions. An Overview

A Set of Thang­kas Illus­trat­ing the Life of sTon-pa gShen-rab in the Musée Guimet, Par­is”, The Tibet Journ­al, vol. 12, 3, pp. 62–67. [Eng­lish trans­la­tion of “Intro­duc­tion”, Arts Asi­atiques 1986, pp. 36–39].

Reli­gion and its rela­tion to pro­gress”, Kuensel (Thim­phu), vol. 2, 16 (25.4.1987), p. 7; vol. 2, 17 (2.5.1987), p. 7.


Le rituel tibé­tain, illus­tré paar l’évocation dans la reli­gion Bon-po, du ‘Lion de la parole’”, in: Anne Mar­ie Blon­deau and Kris­tofer Schip­per (eds.), Essais sur le rituel I, Louvain/Paris (??), pp. 147–158. [Bib­lio­thèque de l’EPHE, Sci­ences reli­gieuses, vol. 92].

A New Chro­no­lo­gic­al Table of the Bon Reli­gion.  The bstan-rcis of Hor-bcun bsTan-‘jin-blo-gros (1888–1975)”, in: Helga Uebach and Jampa L. Pan­glung (eds.), Tibetan Stud­ies. Pro­ceed­ings of the 4th Sem­in­ar of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­ation of Tibetan Stud­ies, München (???), pp. 241–244.  [Stu­dia Tibet­ica. Quel­len zur tibet­ischen Lex­ico­graph­ie, Band II, Kom­mis­sion für zen­t­ralasi­at­ischen Stud­i­en der Bay­erischen Akademie der Wissenschaften].


The Reli­gious Tra­di­tions of Asia, ed. Joseph Kit­agawa, New York (Mac­mil­lan), “The Reli­gions of Tibet”, pp. 195–205; “Bon”, pp. 217–220.  [Reprin­ted from (??)].

Sâkyamuni in the Bon Reli­gion”, Temenos vol. 25, pp. 33–40.


The Bön of Tibet: The His­tor­ic­al Enigma of a Mon­ast­ic Tra­di­tion”, in: Chris­toph von Fürer-Haimen­d­orf (ed.), The Renais­sance of Tibetan Civil­iz­a­tion, Oracle, Ari­zona (Syn­er­get­ic Press), pp. 114–119.

The Mon­as­tery of Snang-zhig of the Bon Reli­gion in the Rnga-ba dis­trict of Amdo”, in: Daffiná, P. (ed.), Indo-Sino-Tibet­ica: Sino-Indo-Tibet­ica: Studi in Onore di Luciano Petech, Rome (Bardi Editore), pp. 207–222.

A Pre­lim­in­ary Study of the Bonpo Deity Khro-bo Gtso-mchog Mkha’-‘gying”, in: Lawrence Epstein and Richard F. Sherburne (eds.), Reflec­tions of Tibetan Cul­ture.  Essays in Memory of Tur­rell V. Wylie, Lewis­ton, N.Y. , pp. 117–125.  [Stud­ies in Asi­an Thought and Reli­gion, vol. 12].

A Bonpo bsTan-rtsis from 1804”, in: Tadeusz Skorupski (ed.), Indo-Tibetan Stud­ies. Papers in hon­our and appre­ci­ation of Pro­fess­or Dav­id L. Snellgrove’s con­tri­bu­tion to Indo-Tibetan Stud­ies, Tring (The Insti­tute of Buddhist Stud­ies), pp. 151–169. [Buddh­ica Brit­an­nica, Series con­tinua 2].

The Bon Reli­gion of Tibet. A Sur­vey of Research”, NIAS Report 1990 (Copen­ha­gen), pp. 143–153.  (See also ??).

Fore­word”, in: Markus Aks­land, The Sac­red Foot­print, Oslo ???, p. v.  [Reprint Bangkok ??].


Myth­o­lo­gies, 2 vols. ed. Wendy Doni­ger, Chica­go (Uni­ver­sity of Chica­go Press), vol. 2, pp. 1075–1088.   [Trans­la­tion of (??)].

The Date of Sâkyamuni Accord­ing to Bonpo Sources”, in: Heinz Bech­ert (ed.), The Dat­ing of the His­tor­ic­al Buddha. Die Datier­ung des his­tor­ischen Buddha, Part 1, Göt­tin­gen (Vand­en­hoeck and Ruprecht), pp. 415–420.  [Sym­posi­en zur Buddhis­mus­forschung, vol, 4,1].

Le sym­bol­isme des Caryāgīti”, in: F. Mallis­on (ed.), Lit­térat­ures médié­vales de l’Inde du Nord, Par­is (École Française d’Extrême-Orient), pp. 35–38.  [Pub­lic­a­tions de l’Ecole Fraçaise d’Extrême-Orient, vol.165].

Who’s Who of World Reli­gions, ed. John R. Hin­nells, Lon­don (Mac­mil­lan): “Gshen-rab Mi-bo-che”, p. 136; “Shar-rdza Bkra-shis rgy­al-mtshan”, p. 371; “Shes-rab rgy­al-mtshan”, p. 373.


Chro­no­lo­gic­al Tables (bstan-rcis) of the Bon Reli­gion”, in: A. Wez­ler and E. Ham­mer­schmidt (eds.), Pro­ceed­ings of the XXXII Inter­na­tion­al Con­gress for Asi­an and North Afric­an Stud­ies, Ham­burg, 25th-30th August 1986, Stut­tgart (Franz Stein­er), pp. 2212-213. [ZDMG Sup­ple­ment 9].


Heart Drops of Dhar­makaya. Dzo­gchen Prac­tice of the Bon Reli­gion, ed. Richard Dixey, Ithaca, New York (Snow Lion), “Intro­duc­tion”, pp. 13–15; “Bib­li­o­graph­ic Essay”, pp. 161–163.

A Bib­li­o­graphy of the works of Siegbert Hum­mel – Sup­ple­ment”, Acta Ori­entalia, vol. 54, pp. 107–112.

Pre­lim­in­ary Study of an Inscrip­tion from Rgy­al-rong”, with Elli­ot Sper­ling, Acta Ori­entalia, vol. 54, pp. 113–125.

Dic­tion­naire des reli­gions, ed. Paul Poupard, 2 vols., Par­is (Presses Uni­versitaires de France), “Bön”, vol.1, pp. 231–133; “Kagy­upa”, vol. 1, p. 1075; “Médit­a­tion de la Grande Per­fec­tion”, vol. 2, p. 1287; “Nyingmapa”, vol. 2, p. 1452.  [2nd ed. – 1st ed. ?].


The Bon Reli­gion of Tibet: A Sur­vey of Research”, in: Tadeusz Skorupski and Ulrich Pagel (eds.), The Buddhist For­um, vol. 3, Lon­don (School of Ori­ent­al and Afric­an Stud­ies), pp. 131–141. [Reprint of (??)].

The Ideo­lo­gic­al Impact on Tibetan Art”, in: Robert Barnett (ed.), Res­ist­ance and Reform in Tibet, Lon­don (Hurst and Co.), pp. 166–185.


Kunst og folke­dans som polit­isk myte. Tibetan­erne som “nas­jon­al minor­itet”” [Art and folk dance as polit­ic­al myth. Tibetans as a ‘nation­al minor­ity‘”], Samtiden (Oslo)1993:1, pp. 19–30.


The Lit­er­at­ure of Bon”, in: J.I. Cabezón and R.R. Jack­son (eds.), Tibetan Lit­er­at­ure. Stud­ies in Genre, Ithaca, New York (Snow Lion), pp. 138–146 (chap. 7).


In Memori­am Nils Simonsson (1920–1994)”, Ori­entalia Suecana, vol. 43–44 (1994–1995), pp. 5–6.


Reli­gions of Tibet in Prac­tice, Don­ald S. Lopez, Jr. (ed.), Prin­ceton, New Jer­sey (Prin­ceton Uni­ver­sity Press): “Bön Res­cues Dharma”, pp. 98–102; “Invoc­a­tions to Two Bön Deit­ies”, pp. 395–400; “Cards for the Dead”, pp. 494–498.

Fore­word”, in: Josef Vanis/Vladimir Sís/Josef Kolmas/Per Kvaerne, Recall­ing Tibet, Praha (Práh Press), p. 5.


Vzpomínka na Tibet (Cech)

Die Tibet­b­ilder der Tibet­forscher”, Thi­erry Dod­in and Heinz Räth­er (eds.), Myth­os Tibet. Wahrnehmun­gen, Pro­jek­tion­en, Phant­as­i­en, Köln (DuMont), pp. 51–66.


Ima­gin­ing Tibet. Per­cep­tions, Pro­jec­tions and Fantas­ies, Boston (Wis­dom Pub­lic­a­tions), 2001, pp. 47–63.

The Suc­ces­sion of Lamas at the Mon­as­tery of sNang-zhig in the rNga-ba dis­trict of Amdo”, in: Samten Karmay and Phil­ippe Sag­ant (eds.), Les hab­it­ants du Toit du monde. Études recuil­lies en hom­mage à Alex­an­der W. Mac­don­ald, Nan­terre (Société d’enthnologie), pp. 157–159.

Dis­cov­er­ing Buddhist Art of Kin­naur”, Stu­dia Indo­lo­giczne vol. 4, pp. 89–90.


Khy­ung-sprul ‘Jigs-med nam-mkha’i rdo-rje (1897–1955): An Early Twen­ti­eth-cen­tury Tibetan Pil­grim in India”, in: Alex Mckay (ed.), Pil­grim­age in Tibet, Rich­mond (Curzon), pp. 71–84.


The Tibet Journ­al, vol. 22, 4 (Winter 1977) [Guest edit­or]: “Fore­word”, p. 3; “A Bib­li­o­graphy of Siegbert Hum­mel”, pp. 5–22 [revised ver­sion of ???].

Le Bön, l’autre reli­gion”, in: Katia Buf­fet­rille and Charles Ramble (ed.), Tibé­tains. 1959–1999: 40 ans de col­on­iz­a­tion, Par­is (Édi­tions Autre­ment), pp. 58–73 [Col­lec­tion Monde HS no. 108].


L’Homme, vol. 156 (2000), pp. 292–293 (Gisèle Krauskopff).


Michael Aris”, The Inde­pend­ent, 29.3.1999, p. 6 [obit­u­ary].


Ori­ent­a­tions, vol. 30, 6 (June 1999), p. 89 [without addi­tions made by The Inde­pend­ent].

Fore­word” in: The Tibet Journ­al, vo. 23, 4, p. 3. [Spe­cial issue: “Bon Reli­gion of Tibet”].


The study of Bon in the West: Past, present and future”, in: Samten G. Karmay and Yas­uhiko Nagano (eds.), New Hori­zons in Bon Stud­ies, Osaka (Nation­al Museum of Eth­no­logy), pp. 7–20 [Bon Stud­ies 2, Senri Eth­no­lo­gic­al Reports 15].

Los rituals tan­tri­cos y sus instru­mentos”, in: Ramon N. Prats (ed.), Mon­as­teri­os y lamas del Tibet, Bar­celona (Fun­dación “la Caixa”), pp. 58–71.

Die Bon-Reli­­gion. Ein bib­li­o­graph­is­cher Führ­er”, in: Susanne Knödel and Ulla Johansen, Sym­bo­l­ik der tibet­ischen Reli­gion­en und des Scham­an­is­mus. Tafel­band, Stut­tgart (Ant­on Hierse­mann), pp. 187–189 [Sym­bo­l­ik der Reli­gion­en 23].

Asi­en, no. 82 (Janu­ary 2002), pp. 131–132 (Andreas Gruschke).


Tibet Images among Research­ers on Tibet”, in: Thi­erry Dod­in and Heinz Räth­er (eds.), Ima­gin­ing Tibet. Per­cep­tions, Pro­jec­tions and Fantas­ies, Boston (Wis­dom Pub­lic­a­tions), pp. 47–63.


Ded­ic­a­tion.  In Hon­our of Samten Gyalt­sen Karmay”, in: Toni Huber (ed.), Amdo Tibetanss in Trans­ition, Leiden (Brill), pp. ix‑x. [Brill’s Tibetan Stud­ies Lib­rary vol. 2/5].

La poli­tique envers le dalaï-lama”, in: Anne-Mar­ie Blon­deau and Katia Buf­fet­rille (eds.), Le Tibet est-il chinois ?, Par­is (Edi­tions Albin Michel), pp. 171–180.


Authen­tic­at­ing Tibet. Answers to China’s 100 Ques­tions, Berke­ley (Uni­ver­sity of Cali­for­nia Press), 2008, pp. 113–121.

???  Taiwan (Avan­guard Pub­lish­ing House), 2011 (Chinese).

The Bon Reli­gion of Tibet: A His­tor­ic­al Enigma”, in: Alfredo Cadonna and Ester Bian­chi (eds.), Facets of Tibetan Reli­gious Tra­di­tion and Con­tacts with Neigh­bour­ing Cul­tur­al Areas, Firen­ze (Leo Olsch­ki), pp. 17–30. [Ori­entalia Vene­tiana 12].


Canon­ic­al Tra­di­tion and Pop­u­lar Reli­gion in Tibetan Buddhism”, in: Hans-Michael Haussig and Bernd M. Scher­er (eds.), Reli­gion: eine europäisch-christ­­liche Erfind­ung? Beiträge eines Sym­posi­ums am Haus der Kul­turen der Welt in Ber­lin, Ber­lin (Philo), pp. 163–172.


Die Bon-Reli­­gion – Ein Überblick, in: Susanne Knödel (et al., eds.), Die Welt des tibet­ischen Buddhis­mus, Ham­burg (Museum für Völkerkunde Ham­burg), pp. 133–145.  [Mit­teilun­gen aus dem Museum für Völkerkunde Ham­burg, Neue Folge, Band 36].


Intro­duc­tion”, in: Tenpa Yun­g­drung, Per Kværne, Musashi Tachi­ma, Yas­uhiko Nagano (eds.), Bonpo Thang­kas from Khy­un­gpo, Osaka (Nation­al Museum of Eth­no­logy), pp. iii-viii.  [Bon Stud­ies 10, Senri Eth­no­lo­gic­al Reports 60].

Monti sac­ri e signori della terra. Dai re celesti alle feste di paese in Tibet”, in: Amil­care Barbero e Stefano Piano (eds.), Reli­gioni e sac­ri monti, Ponzano Mon­fer­rato (Centro di Doc­u­mentazione dei Sac­ri Monti Cal­vari e Complessi devozion­ali europei), pp. 251–270. [Atti del Con­ve­gno Internazionale Torino, Mon­calvo, Casale Mon­fer­rato 12–16 ottobre 2004].


Early Bön Lit­er­at­ure”, in: Mar­it Cran­mer (ed.), Tibetan Lit­er­ary Arts, Mass. (Neilson Lib­rary, Smith Col­lege), pp. 17–19.

“Singing Songs of the Scot­tish Heart”. Wil­li­am McTa­g­gart (1835–1910). A Scot­tish Impres­sion­ist”, Scot­tish Art News, 8 (Autumn 2007), Lon­don (The flem­ing-Wyfold Art Found­a­tion), pp. 12–16.

Tonpa Shen­rab Miwo: Founder of the Bon Reli­gion”, pp. 83–97; “Bonpo Tan­tric Deit­ies”, pp. 165–179, in: Bon. The Magic Word.  The Indi­gen­ous Reli­gion of Tibet, Samten G. Karmay and Jeff Watts (eds.), New York (Rubin Museum of Art)/London (Philip Wilson Publishers).

Bon”, M. Eli­ade (ed.), Enciclo­pe­dia delle Reli­gioni vol. 13, Reli­gioni dell’Estremo Ori­ente, Mil­ano (Jaca Book), pp. 59–62.


Authen­tic­at­ing Tibet.


Tibetan Stud­ies in Nor­way up to 1975”, Roczik Ori­ent­alistyczny Ori­ent­al Stud­ies, vol. 62, 1, pp. 92–100.

Bon and Sham­an­ism”, East and West, vol. 59, 1–4 (Decem­ber 2009), pp. 19–24.  [Samten G. Karmay and Dona­tella Rossi (eds.), Bon. The Ever­last­ing Reli­gion of Tibet. Tibetan Stud­ies in Hon­our of Pro­fess­or Dav­id L. Snellgrove.  Papers Presen­ted at the Inter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence on Bon 22–27 June 2008, Shen­ten Dargye Ling, Château de la Mod­e­tais, Blou, France].



Bon and Chos – the Oth­er Story”, Rocznik Ori­ent­alistyczny, vol. 63, 1, pp. 116–124. [Alta­ica et Tibet­ica. Anniversary volume ded­ic­ated to Stan­islaw Godz­in­ski on His Sev­en­ti­eth Birth­day].



Bond of Unity through Reli­gion”, Hitakalpa. Build­ing Bridges of Faith. Some Thoughts on Inter-Reli­­gious Dia­logue, pp. 11–16, Guwa­hati, Assam (India). [Lec­ture delivered at the Assam State Museum, Guwa­hati; short notices in Assamese in the news­pa­pers Amar Asam and Dain­ik Asam (with photo), both 8.12.2011].



The Bön Reli­gion of Tibet”, in: The Tibetan His­tory Read­er, Tuttle, Gray and Kur­tis R.Schaeffer (eds.) New York (Columbia Uni­ver­sity Press), pp. 183–195. [Reprin­ted from: The Bon Reli­gion of Tibet, Boston (Shambhala) 2001, pp. 9–23].



The Tra­di­tion­al Aca­dem­ic Train­ing for the Geshé Degree in Tibetan Mon­ast­ic Schol­asti­cism”, Tana­ka, Kuniko (ed.), L’e­du­cazione nella soci­età asiatica/ Edu­ca­tion in Asi­an soci­et­ies, Milano/Roma (Bib­li­oteca Ambrosiana/Bulzoni Editore), 2014, pp. 87–95. [Asi­at­ica Ambro­siana 6].



Loc­al Lit­er­at­ures: Bön”, Brill’s Encyc­lo­pe­dia of Buddhism, vol. 1, Brill (Leiden), pp. 831–836. [Online ver­sion 2020].



West­ern Reflec­tions on ‘Oral’ and ‘Folk’ Lit­er­at­ure in the Study of Ancient Tibetan Texts”, Borg­land, Jens W., Lutz Edz­ard and Ute Huesken (eds.), Read­ing Slowly. Fest­s­chrift for Jens E. Braar­vig, Wies­baden (Har­rassow­itz), pp. 292–298.


An Altern­at­ive Nar­rat­ive of Tibetan His­tory: Text and Con­text of the Grags pa gling grags”, Buf­fet­rille, Katia and Isa­belle Hen­ri­on-Dourcy (eds.), Musique et épopée en Haute-Asie. Mélanges offerts à Mireille Helf­fer à l’oc­ca­sion de son 90e anniver­saire, Par­is (L’Asiathèque), pp. 393–408.



Bon and Buddhism: Two Sides of the Same Coin?”, Tibet Found­a­tion News­let­ter, No. 72 (Sum­mer 2018), pp. 14–21 [Part One]; No. 73, pp. 45–49 (Winter 2018), [Part Two].


Zhang­zhung, Bön and China: The Con­struc­tion of an Altern­at­ive Tibetan His­tor­ic­al Nar­rat­ive”, Bhoil, Shelly and Enrique Gal­van-Alvarez (eds.), Tibetan Sub­jectiv­it­ies on the Glob­al Stage, Lan­ham, Maryland/ Lon­don (Lex­ing­ton Books), 2018, pp. 3–21.




A g.yung drung bon descrip­tion of Mount Kailāśa (Gangs Ti se)”, Clem­ente, Michela, Oscar Nales­ini, and Fed­er­ica Ven­turi (eds.), Per­spect­ives on Tibetan Cul­ture. A Small Gar­land of For­­get-me-nots offered to Elena De Rossi Filibeck, Revue d’Et­udes Tibé­taines, no. 51, pp. 171–187.


Hor btsun bstan ’dzin blo gros rgya mtsho (1889–1975): A Little-known Bön Schol­ar from Amdo”, Ute Wal­len­böck, Ute, Bianca Hor­le­mann, and Jarm­ila Ptáčková (eds.), Map­ping Amdo. Dynam­ics of PowerArchiv Ori­entální, Sup­ple­menta XI, pp. 57–63.



A Case of Proph­ecy in Post-imper­­i­al Tibet”, Maurer, Petra, Dona­tella Rossi, and Rolf Sch­euer­mann (eds.), Glimpses of Tibetan Divin­a­tion Past and Present, Leiden/Boston (Brill), pp. 1–10. [Pro­gnost­ic­a­tions in His­tory vol. 2].


James Lind­say – A Late Nine­teenth-Cen­tury Edin­burgh Art Col­lect­or”, Journ­al of Irish and Scot­tish Stud­ies, Vol. 10, 2, pp. 1–18.

© Lon­don­Ney