Trulku (སྤྲུལ་སྐུ།) is one of Dhondup Gyal's (དོན་གྲུབ་གྱལ།) most well known works. Published in Light Rain་ (སྦྲང་ཆར།) in 1981, the short story describes a stranger arriving in a village and announcing himself to be an incarnate Lama. The protagonist, Uncle Nyima has unswerving faith in Tibetan Buddhism. The supposed incarnate Lama however demonstrates no knowledge in Buddhism, abuses the trust of the villagers, and engages in sexual relations with women. Uncle Nyima, seeing this, fails to question the Lama and instead sees the issue to be his own lack of faith. In the end the Lama is found be a fraud, nothing more than a opportunistic swindler.
Trulku was seen as social commentary on Tibetan's blind faith in tradition and the the authority religion commands over the common people. The story shocked readers at the time, but since 1980 there have been many works criticising bogus Lamas. Some readers have suggested that this work exemplified Dhondup Gyal's critical view of religion. However in 'The Emergence of Modern Tibetan Literature- gsar tsom', Tsering Shakya suggests another reading, 'given the recent history of Tibet and China, the figure of the Incarnate Lama could be interpreted rather differently: it can be seen as a critique of the blind trust placed by the people in Mao and the Communist Party.'
The short story is stilled enjoyed by readers today and is featured in many anthologies of Tibetan Literature. Trulku is made up ten short chapters or episodes, which will be serialised here.
Apologies, still don't have access to a scanner so the Tibetan text will posted at another date.
by Dhondup Gyal
Translated by Ingsel