Kuno-la ~ Ngawangdhondup Narkyid ~ Nov 6, 1931 – Feb 13, 2017
It is with a heavy heart that I bring you the news of our dearly beloved Kuno-la’s passing at 9:05 PM, New Delhi time, February 13, 2017.
Ngawangdhondup Narkyid, (Kuno), the Official Biographer of His Holiness the Dalai Lama embodied a great swath of Tibetan history which spanned the emergence of the Dalai Lama and Tibet from total obscurity to recognition on the world stage. Kuno-la's illuminated presence radiated a profound actualization of Tibetan traditions and practices as he conveyed the Dalai Lama’s message of compassion throughout his far ranging visits.
Kuno-la was born in a tiny Himalayan town to become the closest friend and confidant of the Dalai Lama while they were still boys in Lhasa. He was then entrusted with the great responsibility of being the Official Biographer of His Holiness. He was the sole author of the first 13 books completed and trained the next group of biographers who now work collectively.
Among his many extraordinary historic achievements, in 1959 as General of the Tibetan army in Lhasa, Tibet, Kuno-la orchestrated the flight of the Dalai Lama and entourage from Lhasa, to Dharamsala, India where Kuno-la set up the Tibetan government-in-exile. He wrote the Tibetan constitution, held many governmental positions, invented the Tibetan typewriter, and was one of the first Tibetans to achieve a western Master’s Degree as well as an honorary Doctorate, both from Western Michigan University. The script (by Melissa Mathison) for the film Kundun (1997, directed by Martin Scorsese) was based on the book Land of Lost Content (Barber) which focused on Kuno’s life at the time of transition from Tibet to India.
All who met Kuno-la were immediately taken by his shiny brilliance, deep-hearted warmth, infinite benevolence - as well as his often stunning mischievousness. He was not only unforgettable but was always very much missed. Those of us who knew him realize that we were privileged to be close to a rare, holy yet essentially human individual. We strive to continue to share his compassion, love, care, truth, humor, justice and wisdom.
With much love,