Sarat Chandra Das

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Sarat Chandra Das
শরৎচন্দ্র দাস
Sarat Chandra Das.jpg
Sarat Chandra Das
NationalityBritish India
OccupationExplorer, Scholar

Sarat Chandra Das (Bengali: শরৎচন্দ্র দাস) (1849–1917) was an Indian scholar of Tibetan language and culture most noted for his two journeys to Tibet in 1879 and in 1881–1882.


Born in Chittagong, eastern Bengal to a Bengali Hindu Vaidya-Brahmin family, Sarat Chandra Dash attended Presidency College, as a student of the University of Calcutta. In 1874 he was appointed headmaster of the Bhutia Boarding School at Darjeeling. In 1878, a Tibetan teacher, Lama Ugyen Gyatso arranged a passport for Sarat Chandra to go the monastery at Tashilhunpo. In June 1879, Das and Ugyen-gyatso left Darjeeling for the first of two journeys to Tibet. They remained in Tibet for six months, returning to Darjeeling with a large collection of Tibetan and Sanskrit texts which would become the basis for his later scholarship. Sarat Chandra spent 1880 in Darjeeling poring over the information he had obtained. In November 1881, Sarat Chandra and Ugyen-gyatso returned to Tibet, where they explored the Yarlung Valley, returning to India in January 1883.[1] Along with Satish Chandra Vidyabhusan, he prepared Tibetan-English dictionary.[2]

For a time, he worked as a spy for the British, accompanying Colman Macaulay on his 1884 expedition to Tibet[3] to gather information on the Tibetans, Russians and Chinese. After he left Tibet, the reasons for his visit were discovered and many of the Tibetans who had befriended him suffered severe reprisals.[4]

For the latter part of his life, Das settled in Darjeeling. He named his house "Lhasa Villa" and played host to many notable guests including Sir Charles Alfred Bell and Ekai Kawaguchi. Johnson stated that, in 1885 and 1887 Das met with Henry Steel Olcott, co-founder and first President of the Theosophical Society.[5]


  • Contributions on the religion, history &c., of Tibet: Rise and progress of Jin or Buddhism in China. Publisher: s.n. (1882).
  • Narrative of a journey to Lhasa in 1881-82. Publisher: s.n. (1885).
  • Narrative of a journey round Lake Yamdo (Palti), and in Lhokha, Yarlung, and Sakya, in 1882. publisher: s.n (1887).
  • Avadānakalpalatā: a collection of legendary stories about the Bodhisattvas. Asiatic Society (1890).
  • The doctrine of transmigration. Buddhist Text Society (1893).
  • Indian Pandits in the Land of Snow. Originally published at the end of the 19th century. Reprint: Rupa (2006).ISBN 978-8129108951.
  • Sarat Chandra Das, Graham Sandberg & Augustus William Heyde A Tibetan-English dictionary, with Sanskrit synonyms. 1st Edition - Calcutta, 1902. Reprint: Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, 1989 and Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1970, 1973, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1991, 1995 and 2000.
  • Journey To Lhasa & Central Tibet. 1st Edition: John Murray (England) (1902). Reprint: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (2007). ISBN 978-0-548-22652-0. Republished as: Lhasa and Central Tibet, Cosmo (Publications, India); New edition (2003). ISBN 978-81-7020-435-0.
  • An introduction to the grammar of the Tibetan language;: With the texts of Situ sum-tag, Dag-je sal-wai melong, and Situi shal lung. Darjeeling Branch Press, 1915. Reprint: Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1972 and 1983.
  • Autobiography: Narratives of the incidents of my early life. Reprint: Indian studies: past & present (1969).


  1. ^ Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet, Das, Sarat Chandra, pp xi–xiii, Paljor Publications, New Delhi, 2001
  2. ^ Padmanabh S. Jaini. "Collected Papers on Buddhist Studies". Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  3. ^ Arora, Vibha (2008). "Routing the Commodities of Empire through Sikkim (1817-1906)". Commodities of Empire: Working Paper No.9 (PDF). Open University. p. 12. ISSN 1756-0098.
  4. ^ Laurence Austine Waddell, Lhasa and Its Mysteries: With a Record of the Expedition of 1903-1904, Cosimo, Inc., 2007, 740 pages, p. 79: "The ruin thus brought about by the Babu's visit extended also to the unfortunate Lama's relatives, the governor of Gyantsé (the Phal Dahpön) and his wife (Lha-cham), whom he had persuaded to befriend Sarat C. Das. These two were cast into prison for life, and their estates confiscated, and several of their servants were barbarously mutilated, their hands and feet were cut off and their eyes gouged out, and they were then left to die a lingering death in agony, so bitterly cruel was the resentment of the Lamas against all who assisted the Babu in this attempt to spy into their sacred city."
  5. ^ The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge, Johnson, Paul K., p 191-192, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1994

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