Chushi Gangdruk

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Chushi Gangdruk
LeaderAndruk Gonpo Tashi
Dates of operation16 June 1958 (1958-06-16) – 1974 (1974)
IdeologyTibetan nationalism

Chushi Gangdruk (Tibetan: ཆུ་བཞི་སྒང་དྲུག་, Wylie: Chu bzhi sgang drug, lit.'Four Rivers, Six Ranges') was a Tibetan guerrilla group. Formally organized on 16 June 1958, the Chushi Gangdruk guerrilla fighters fought the forces of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in Tibet from 1956 to 1974.

The Dokham Chushi Gangdruk organization, a charity set up in New York City and India with chapters in other countries, now supports survivors of the Chushi Gangdruk resistance currently living in India. Chushi Gangdruk also led the 14th Dalai Lama out of Lhasa, where he had lived, soon after the start of the Chinese invasion. During that time, a group of Chushi Gangdruk guerillas was led by Kunga Samten, who is now deceased.[1] Because the United States was prepared to recognize the People's Republic of China in the early 1970s, the CIA Tibetan Program, which funded the Chushi Gangdruk army, was ended in 1974.[2][3]


Badge of the "Tibetan Volunteer Defenders of the Faith". Inscription in Tibetan is gangs ljongs bstan srung dang blangs

Chushi Gangdruk ("Four Rivers, Six Ranges") is the name traditionally given to the eastern Tibetan region of Kham where the gorges of the Gyalmo Nyulchu (Salween), Dzachu (Mekong), Drichu (Yangtze), and Machu (Yellow River) rivers, all arising on the Tibetan Plateau, pass between six parallel ranges of mountains (Duldza Zalmogang, Tshawagang, Markhamgang, Pobargang, Mardzagang, and Minyagang) that form the watersheds for these rivers. "Chu" (choo) is the Tibetan word for "water", and "shi" (she) is the Tibetan word for 4. "Gang" is range, and "druk" (drewk) means 6.[4]

The group's full name was the "Kham Four Rivers, Six Ranges Tibetan Defenders of the Faith Volunteer Army" (Tibetan: མདོ་སྟོད་ཆུ་བཞི་སྒང་དྲུག་བོད་ཀྱི་བསྟན་སྲུང་དང་བླངས་དམག་, Wylie: mdo stod chu bzhi sgang drug bod kyi bstan srung dang blangs dmag).[5]


Fall of Chamdo and signing of the Seventeen-Point Agreement[edit]

On 19 October 1950, the monastery where Ngabo Shapé was hiding was surrounded by the Chinese troops accompanied by a few Khampa guides, and here Ngabo Shapé and his officials and troops surrendered to the invading Chinese.[6] The Tibetan Government army in Chamdo was defeated, and the Communist Chinese army took over the city of Chamdo. In Drugu monastery, Ngabo Shapé signed the official surrender.

During the negotiation of the Seventeen-Point Agreement, when the negotiation broke down after Ngabo Shapé resisted to sign the agreement, Li Weihan threatened to order the Chinese troops to march into Lhasa. They decided it was more perilous to Tibet not to reach an agreement, so they accepted the Chinese terms without asking Lhasa.[7] The Chinese were further furious when they were told that the Dalai Lama’s seal was still in Yatung with him.[8] The Chinese made new seal for Ngabo Shapé to stamp the document when he exclaimed that he did not have his official seal to stamp the document, though he had with him the official seal as the Governor General of Kham.[9] Therefore, on 23 May 1951, Ngabo Shapé was forced to sign under duress the "Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet," commonly known as the “Seventeen-Point Agreement”.[10]

Formation of Chushi Gangdrug[edit]

The group was established by Andrug Gompo Tashi (also known as Andrug Jindak). Like many other volunteered fighters, Jindak financed many of the guerrillas and was accepted as their undisputed leader.[citation needed]

In order to mobilize more support across the different regions of Tibet, the names Tenshung Danglang Mak were appended to Chushi Gangdrug in order to address the pan-Tibetan composition of the people's army. Tenshung Danglang Mak fought for the political and religious freedom of Tibet. Khampas and Amdowas had been fighting against the since 1956 in different parts of Kham and Amdo. On 16 June 1958, a meeting of Chushi Gangdrug and their supporters was held in Lhodak Dhama Dzong with impressive cavalry parade, incense burnt to the Dalai Lama photograph, and then launched the Chushi Gangdrug yellow flag of the Tensik Danglang Mak with an emblem of two swords represented a deity and handles symbolic of Dorjee or thunderbolt and lotus flower.[11][12]

The formation of the Chushi Gangdruk was announced on 16 June 1958. It was called National Volunteer Defence Army (NVDA). "Chushi Gangdruk" is a Tibetan phrase meaning "land of four rivers and six ranges," and refers to Amdo and Kham. The group included Tibetans from those regions of eastern Tibet, and its main objective was to drive PRC occupational forces out of Tibet. While central and western Tibet (Ü-Tsang) were bound by a 17-point agreement with the People's Republic of China, the PRC initiated land reform in eastern Tibet (including Amdo and Kham) and engaged in harsh reprisals against the Tibetan land-owners there.[citation needed]

Andrug Gompo Tashi[13] before 1959

Under the direction of General Andrug Gonpo Tashi, Chushi Gangdruk included 37 allied forces and 18 military commanders. They drafted a 27-point military law governing the conduct of the volunteers. Their headquarters were located at Tsona, then later moved to Lhagyari.[citation needed]

Initially militia members purchased their own weapons, mainly World War II-era British .303 in, German 7.92 mm, and Russian 7.62 mm caliber rifles. Chushi Gangdruk contacted the US government for support. However, the State Department required an official request from the Tibetan government in Lhasa, which was not forthcoming. State Department requests were made and ignored in both 1957 and 1958.

CIA support[edit]

Without getting approval from the Dalai Lama, the US Central Intelligence Agency decided to go ahead to support the Chushi Gangdrug Tenshung Danglang Mak in the summer of 1959.[14] The CIA provided the group with material assistance and aid, including arms and ammunition, as well as training to members of Chushi Gangdruk and other Tibetan guerrilla groups at Camp Hale.

The Tibetan involvement with the U.S. came during a period of Cold War rhetorical anti-imperialism among major world powers, used to justify contemporary imperial expansion. Rhetorically, this new push for empire-building was manifested in the United States as anti-communism, and in the People's Republic of China as anti-capitalism.[15][16]

Allen Dulles, the CIA deputy director responsible for overseeing all CIA covert operations, saw an opportunity to destabilize the People's Republic of China.[17] The primary motive was more to impede and harass the Chinese Communists, than to render sufficient aid to the Tibetans.[14]

Surrender to Indian government[edit]

The group assisted the escape of the 14th Dalai Lama to India in March 1959. After this, Andrug Jindak persuaded Kunga Samten Dewatshang in Tawang to surrender his weapons to the Indian authorities.[18] Shangri Lhagyal and other Chushi Gangdrug fighters handed over their weapons to the Indian officials at Tezpur, India. They crossed the border where they were greeted by a representative of the Tibetan Government, Tsedrung Jampa Wangdu.[19] On 29 April 1959, they handed over their rifles, ammunition, and all other weapons to the Deputy Commissioner of Tezpur district, and were permitted to take their gold, silver, and other valuables.[20]

The 14th Dalai Lama conferred the rank of Dsasak to Andrug Gompo Tashi in a letter: “You have led the Chushi Gangdrug force with unshakeable determination to resist the Chinese occupation army for the great national cause of defending the freedom of Tibet. I confer on you the rank of Dzasak (the highest military rank equivalent to general) in recognition of your services to the country. The present situation calls for a continuance of your brave struggle with the same determination and courage.”[21] In addition, Andrug Jindak received gifts of priceless religious relics including an earthen statue of God of Protection Jigchi Mahai and holy beads.[21]

Later guerrilla operations[edit]

From 1960, Chushi Gangdruk conducted its guerrilla operations from the northern Nepalese region of Mustang.[22] In 1974, guerrilla operations ceased after the CIA, given the realignment of Sino-American relations initiated by President Richard Nixon, terminated its program of assistance to the Tibetan resistance movement and the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual and temporal leader, taped a message telling the Tibetans to lay down their weapons and surrender peacefully.[2]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Membership & Support". Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Resistance and Revolution". Tibet Oral History Project. Archived from the original on 27 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  3. ^ Stephen Talty (31 December 2010). "The Dalai Lama's Great Escape". The Daily Beast.
  4. ^ Kunga Samten Dewatshang (1997). Flight at the Cuckoo's Behest, The Life and Times of a Tibetan Freedom Fighter. New Delhi: Paljor Publications. p. 113.
  5. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn: A History of Modern Tibet. Vol. 2. The Calm before the Storm, 1951-1955, University of California Press, London, 2007, p. 598
  6. ^ Ford, Robert (1990). Captured in Tibet. NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 136–137.
  7. ^ Knaus, J. K. (1999). Orphans of the Cold War: America and the Tibetan Struggle for Survival. NY: Public Affairs. p. 84. ISBN 9781891620188.
  8. ^ Goodmann, M. H. (1986). The Last Dalai Lama, A Biography. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. p. 173.
  9. ^ Dalai Lama (2006). My Land and My People. New Delhi: Srishti Publishers & Distributors. p. 88.
  10. ^ INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS (1959). "The Question of Tibet and the Rule of Law". International Commission of Jurists.
  11. ^ Knaus, J. K. (1999). Orphans of the Cold War: America and the Tibetan Struggle for Survival. NY: Public Affairs. p. 150. ISBN 9781891620188.
  12. ^ Gyalo Thondup and Thurston, A. F. (2015). The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong, The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet. NY: Public Affairs. p. 176.
  13. ^ Thondup, Gyalo; Thurston, Anne F. (2015). The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong: The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet. Gurgaon, India: Random House India. p. 169. ISBN 978-818400-387-1. Most of the resisters in India were followers of Andrug Gompo Tashi, a wealthy, patriotic Kham trader from Litang where the resistance had begun with the introduction of China's so-called reforms. Popular outrage had been further fueled with the death and destruction unleashed when the Chinese attacked and bombed the local Litang monastery.
  14. ^ a b Knaus, J. K. (1999). Orphans of the Cold War. NY: Public Affairs. pp. 139. ISBN 9781891620188.
  15. ^ McGranahan, C. (2018). Ethnographies of U.S. Empire: Love and Empire: The CIA, Tibet, and Covert Humanitarianism. Durham and London: Duke University. p. 334.
  16. ^ McGranahan, C. "Ethnographies of U.S. Empire: Love and Empire: The CIA, Tibet, and Covert Humanitarianism" (PDF).
  17. ^ Roberts II, J. B. (1997). "The Secret War Over Tibet". The American Spectator. December: 31–35.
  18. ^ Kunga Samten Dewatshang (1997). Flight at the Cuckoo's Behest, The Life and Times of a Tibetan Freedom Fighter. New Delhi: Paljor Publications. p. 149.
  19. ^ Gompo Tashi Andrugtsang (1973). Four Rivers, Six Ranges: Reminiscences of the Resistance Movement in Tibet. Dharamsala: Information and Publicity Office of H.H. The Dalai Lama. p. 105.
  20. ^ Gompo Tashi Andrugtsang (1973). Four Rivers, Six Ranges: Reminiscences of the Resistance Movement in Tibet. Dharamsala: Information and Publicity Office of H.H. The Dalai Lama. pp. 105–106.
  21. ^ a b Gompo Tashi Andrugtsang (1973). Four Rivers, Six Ranges: Reminiscences of the Resistance Movement in Tibet. Dharamsala: Information and Publicity Office of H.H. The Dalai Lama. p. 101.
  22. ^ Cowan, Sam (17 January 2016). "The curious case of the Mustang incident". The Record. Retrieved 10 February 2017.


  • Shakya, Tsering (1999). The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11814-7.