Rahul Sankrityayan, Tsetan Phuntsog and Tibetan Textbooks for Ladakh in 1933

  • John Bray International Association for Ladakh Studies
  • Martijn van Beek
  • Tsering Dhundup Gonkatsang
  • Phuntsok Wangchuk
Keywords: Ladakh, education, textbooks, modernization, Tibetan language


In 1933 the Indian scholar and social activist Rahul Sankrityayan (1893-1963) compiled a set of four Tibetan-language readers and a grammar for use in Ladakhi schools, together with his Ladakhi colleague Tsetan Phuntsog. The readers contain a mix of material from Western, Indian, Ladakhi and Tibetan sources. This includes simple essays about ‘air’ and ‘water’, selections from Aesop’s fables, Indian folk stories, biographies of famous people in Ladakhi and Tibetan history, poems by Ladakhi authors, and extracts from the Treasury of Elegant Sayings by Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251). This essay begins with a review of earlier Tibetan-language schoolbooks published in British India, and then discusses the circumstances that led to Sankrityayan’s involvement in the Ladakh project. The second part of the essay examines the contents of the readers and the grammar, including—where possible—the authorship of particular sections. Finally, the essay briefly reviews linguistic developments in Ladakh since the publication of the textbooks.

How to Cite
Bray, J., van Beek, M., Gonkatsang, T., & Wangchuk, P. (2020). Rahul Sankrityayan, Tsetan Phuntsog and Tibetan Textbooks for Ladakh in 1933. HIMALAYA - The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 39(2), 74-91. https://doi.org/10.2218/himalaya.2019.7853
Special Section Research Article