A Prayer Song for the March to Tibet

(A Prayer Song for the March to Tibet)
By Rakra Thupten Choedhar

Ki ki so so lha gyalo!
Victory to the Gods of Tibet!

O Tibetan brothers and sisters, we have not met for a long time.
We are returning, we who have long wandered in foreign lands.

O you first sipa (origin) gods of Tibet, send us escorts
We need trusted guides to help us across the many passes and valleys.

O you first sipa goddesses, do not be distracted.
Open wide the gates of the great snow mountain wall.

You thirteen first sipa goddesses of our gur songs, sing us a verse.
It will make the journey shorter across the many passes and valleys

You twelve terma (treasure) goddesses please sing the refrain.
Raise our spirits and make us joyful as we march through the wilderness.

Any thoughts of turning back have been abandoned on the road behind
Our feet compel us to march forward to Tibet.

Lhasa, abode of the gods, gathering place of our people,
The capital city of all Tibetans, more precious than life.

Friends, do not offer the welcome chang right now,
There will be time enough for us to meet, drink and rejoice.
Let us first greet the Buddha Jowo at the Jokang Temple.

(This poor translation of Rakra Rimpoche’s poem was attempted by Jamyang Norbu from the Tibetan original below. Edited by Rigzin Dolkar)


30 Replies to “A Prayer Song for the March to Tibet”

  1. ༈ ཀི་ཀཱི སོ་སཱོ ལྷ་རྒལ་ལོ།

    ༡ ༈ མ་མཇལ་རྒྱུན་རིང་ཕྱིན་པའི། །གཞིས་བཞུགས་སྤུན་གྲོགས་རྣམས་ཚོ།
    །གཞན་ཡུལ་ཡུན་རིང་འགྲིམ་པའི། །བོད་པ་ང་ཚོ་ཡོང་སླེབས་ཡོང།

    ༢ །བོད་སྐྱོང་སྲིད་པའི་ལྷ་ཆེན། །བསུ་མཁན་གཏོང་རོག་གནང་དང།
    །ལ་ཀླུང་མང་པོ་བརྒལ་རྒྱུར། །ལམ་རོག་བློས་འཁེལ་ལོས་ཡོང།

    ༣ །སྲིད་པའི་ལྷ་མོ་རྣམས་ཚོ། །ཐུགས་སེམས་ཡེངས་ནས་མ་བཞུགས།
    །ང་ཚོའི་གངས་རིའི་རྭ་བའི། །རྒལ་སྒོ་ཕྱེ་རོག་གནང་དང།

    ༤ །སྲིད་པའི་མགུར་ལྷ་བཅུ་གསུམ། །མགུར་མ་གཏོང་རོག་གནང་དང།
    །ལ་ཀླུང་མང་པོ་བརྒལ་དུས། །ལམ་ཐག་ཐུང་བའི་ཁྱད་འདུག།

    ༥ །བོད་སྐྱོང་བསྟན་མ་བཅུ་གཉིས། །དེ་ལ་རམ་སྐྱོར་གནང་དང།
    །ལུང་སྟོང་འགྲིམ་དགོས་འདུག་པས། །སྐྱིད་སྣང་ཤར་རྒྱུར་ཕན་པ།

    ༦། །ལྷ་ས་ལྷ་ཡི་ཡུལ་ཁམས། །ང་ཚོའི་བོད་པའི་རྒལ་ཁམས།
    །བོད་རིགས་བྱེ་བ་མང་པོའི། །སྲོག་ལས་གཅེས་པའི་རྒལ་ས།

    ༧ །ཕྱི་བགྲོས་རྒྱབ་རྒྱུའི་བསམ་བློ། །རྒྱབ་སྐྱུར་བཏངས་ནས་ལས་སོང།
    །རྐང་པའི་དབང་ཡོད་བཤས་ནས། །གོམ་པ་བོད་ལ་ཐལ་སོང།

    ༨ །སྔོན་ལ་བསུ་ཆང་མི་དགོས། །ཇོ་བོ་ཡིད་བཞིན་ནོར་བུའི།
    །ཞལ་རས་མཇལ་ཙམ་ཞུས་ནས། །གཞིས་བྱེས་ལྷོད་མཇལ་ཡོང་ངས།


  2. Nice song but we need a patriotic song right now. I mean not religious one.(Change Lha gyalo to Bod Gyalo) I am really tired of seeing and hearing God and lama in every Tibetan songs in the past, including our National Anthem. Can we have a free religion song or National Anthem??
    again, please this is just my opinion. If it offends anybody, please accept my apology in advance. Body gyalo.

  3. Rudy, not everyone has the experience or talent to write songs, but the sentiment of wishing for such a song is legitimate. Maybe someone else will come forward. Nonetheless, a few comments for Tsering:

    In Tibet, Lha gyallo means Bod gyallo. It’s what people say to mean the latter when it’s too dangerous to say it openly.

    If you want great patriotic songs, look to Tibet. That’s where all the good ones come from. Dolmakyab’s Gangchenpa, Rigzin Dolma’s Lhanzom Nyinmo, and of course Sem Kyi Log Pheb by Yadong and his 3 students come to mind. Such songs have to varying degrees religious meaning too, but at the heart they’re patriotic. A stronger example of religious framing for a patriotic song is Kunga’s song for the Karmapa, banned almost immediately after its release, in which he praises Gyalwa Karmapa for doing great insult and injury to the “invaders” when he crossed the Himalayas.

    If you haven’t heard of any of these, go watch them on youtube:


    Lhanzon kyi Nyinmo:

    Sem kyi Log Pheb:


    Bod gyallo!!

  4. Dear Rich,

    Yes I know, but it appears from the outside as if young Tibetans are only complaining about everyone else but not trying anything serious themselves. Please do not think this is intended as an insult, but as a kick in the butt into action.
    If you talk about (violent) action and risking your lives, but you cannot even compose a song, Tibetan youngsters make themselves look very stupid indeed. I’m sure there must be enough young Tibetans that can compose a simple song? Nobody is expecting something that will make the international hit charts, use your brains and fantasy to do something. You have TIPA in Dharamsala; why not get them involved? And, though it may sound crazy and a stupid suggestion of a foreigner, it would help if it is in English, so that the rest of the world can understand it – remember, it’s all about getting attention of the media with interesting actions.
    Talk about the freedom of the high plateau, the glittering mountaintops, horse-riding, yaks, wild rivers and the immense space of Tibet. If you want to make a change, do something now and don’t look for excuses why this is difficult…

  5. Rudy, I don’t think it sounds like that at all. If my words implied that, I’m deeply sorry. My only point was that when you have a good idea but not the skills or training to put it into action yourself, it’s still worthwhile to express it so that others can pick it up and carry it forward.

  6. Yes, this piece sounds more like a prayer than a patriotic song. I second TenzinTsering here. We need a strong song to awaken our heart and spirit…. Make us fearless…. Brave. The song should make us brave enough to fight any obstacles, challenges, no matter how big and mighty our enemy is.

    The one they have is making us all dependent on God. ‘send us escort’ etc.

    The real ‘Patriotic Songs’ are:

    ‘Sar-farosh ke tamanna ab hamere dil mein hein
    Dekhna hein zoor kitna bazuwe kaatil mein hein.

    Translation: ‘We have already decided to sacrifice of precious life..
    Now its our challenge to our enemy to prove how mighty they are.’


    ‘Apne Aazadi ko hum hargiz mita sakte nahin,
    Sar katta sakte hein lekin sar juka sakte nahin.’
    Translation: ‘We are not going to give up our Freedom at any cost,
    We are ready to get beheaded, but not going to bow our heads.’

    When you say Rangzen, then there should not be any compromise. You can not seek Rangzen and at the same time be non-violent. Rangzen means Rangzen…. If you are dedicated, you have to do anything in order to achieve it… kill or get killed. Or chant the Umai-Lama mantra and wait for the ‘Torma’ to fall down from the roof, with your mouth wide open.

  7. Great guys, if I can make a suggestion, ask people around (perhaps an online pole?) which song they like best. Chose it quickly and introduce it to all protests; that way you have something else to present then just shout ‘Free Tibet’.
    But please remember, non-Tibetans need to understand it (so almost mandatory it must be sung in English), and it does need to be easy to sing and memorize – beauty is not a requirement for a protest song! Probably the best known protest singer in the west was Bob Dylan; most of his songs were not beuatiful, just simple and easy to remember and with a good tekst.

    Love & clear light,

  8. Rakra Rinpoche’s song was written to be an inspirational ode to the Freedom march to Tibet, and in that mission, I believe it succeeds very well. It is not meant to be the ultimate patriotic song for use at protests, March 10ths or for singing at morning assembly at schools.

    When starting any project, it’s important to have a clear idea of exactly what the aim and purpose is, and what the strategy will be to achieve the goal. In the case of this song, the aim has been achieved through lyrics that invoke the primal spirits of Tibet….how much more patriotic can a song get.

    As for the song being too religious, I tend to disagree. Yes it mentions the Jowo and other gods and goddesses unique to the Tibetan land and people, but it would be wrong to say that the lyrics are too religious. There is no mention of the Buddha, Dharma or Sangha, and no reference to a wish or an act that could be said to have Buddhist practise or beliefs as it’s source.

    For a people that have been labelled as the most religious on earth, this is by all measure, a very secular song.

    The desire to see the capitol of all Tibet, calling on the ancestral gods that have inhabited the land from the beginning of Tibetan prehistory, the determination expressed in the words ‘Any thoughts of turning back have been abandoned on the road behind’, and finally, the song concluding with the forceful prediction of a victorious ending, when the ‘welcome chang’ can be drunk, all work to make this a timeless and powerful song in celebration of a return and a unification of Tibetans.

  9. Rinpoches should be praying not making songs. Don’t get confused people. Karmapa made songs,5th Dalai lama made poem….the list goes on. what is going on with our society???

  10. I sent a copy of the song and the translation to the Tibet Marchers. Here is the reply I received.

    Tashi Delek Jamyang Norbu la,

    I, on behalf of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement would like to thank you and through you Rakra Rimpoche for the love, prayer and the
    inspiration that you have provided us with your support.

    Please do write to us and correct us if and when our decisions might
    not seem right.

    Rangzen Always

    Sherab Woeser

  11. Karma, were you perhaps thinking of the Sixth? I would much rather see Rinpoches writing songs and poetry than stifling political discourse/action any day. That is to say, Rakra Rinpoche is doing a much more useful job than Samdong…

  12. Why we need Rinpoche???? because of Religious purpose only not for entertainment. If there is no job for Rinpoche, they should all become lay people. Anyway, time has changed. No need for Rinpoche or Bramins. Everybody is equal. Lets not go back to Caste system.

  13. Rakra Rinpoche,

    thank you for such a touching poem. It moved me deeply.

    It is also sad to read some of the comments, and start to realise that this classical style of writing is disappearing, as well as appreciation for some of the best parts of our ancient culture. People have to be able to differentiate the good from the bad of our past. instead of rejecting everything.

    The poem reminded me of some heroic song of impossible quests from the past, of heros with principle, integrity and great purpose.

    Although, I myself can’t read Tibetan, through the translation, I am able to now appreciate the marchers for who they truely are, great noble knights from yesteryear, potentially sacrificing their lives for the good of all.
    thank you for the translation, Rigzin la and Jamyangla.

  14. Tibetan people are totally lost. Everything is mixed up now. Religion, literature, politics, MTV, poem, Rinpoche sing songs….etc. No hope for a new Tibet. I give up

  15. The TGIE want us to stop protest,he,he,he,he,he,he,he What is this?
    Here is the quote. “Central Tibetan Administration instructs all Tibetans to put off all protests in front of PRC Embassies until May end” Are they try to enlightened led by Samdong? Does he know who he is working for? Come on, be serious and get a grip Mr!

  16. Thank you, Denise,once again for the song…we have used it on goorangefortibet.net.Guys,please let me know the other songs which i can use freely.Thanks in advance,FREE TIBET.

  17. hmmm. lots of protest songs. Someone of you guys should check out Woodie Guthrie too. He blows Bob Bylan out of the water.

  18. It is very true that most of the patriotic songs that touch the soul and appeals to the mind are the one that comes from Tibet. Songs like Gangchenpa and Sem Kyi Lokpheb are indeed great songs that inspires and to our amazement such songs are composed and sung right under the nose of brutual chinese. I can understand how fearless these singers are. Their songs carry great messages of the unity of Tibetan and the Tibetans being a distinct race from the thick necked chinese. I have also heard of a fearless singer from Tibet who sang a Tibetan song of love, peace and freedom and and he was very direct in his messsge and as a result he got caught and butured. I salute to those fearless patriots.
    On the contarary The music scene in exile doesn’t offer that spirit. Most of their songs are hollow in meaning with a purpose just to enliven their evening.
    When I first listened to the songs like Gangchen Pa and Sem Kyi Lokpheb, i had a lump formed in my throat. A great sansation ran throughout my body and i was swallowing tears and I wonder at their guds to have sung such a great songs.
    I offer my highest respect to them

  19. All the songs created by Tibetan exile are “Prayers” Either praising Dalai Lama or Buddha. Even in our National Anthem full of Religious stuff. I am tired of praying and praising for Dalai Lama. Also, in our Tibetan flag, the Norbu refers to Dalai lama. How can we have a non-religion politics. Lets fight for our country not religion. We definitely need to separate religion and politics in our society.

  20. OK. What pisses me off is what a common name Dawa is. Although I am for Independence and get exasperated by some actions of our leaders I would not say “I am tired of praying and praising (for) Dalai Lama.” By the way the word ‘for’ in front of the word “Dalai Lama” is an unnecessary preposition and hence renders the statement incorrect. My English is not perfect but it’s not that shitty.

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