The Life of Alexander Csoma de Kõrös


Csoma's travel

He was born between March 28 and April 4, 1784 in the Transylvanian village, Kõrös.


Bethlen College, in the town of Nagyenyed (Hungary), 1799 - 1815
Göttingen University (Germany), 1816 - 1818
Met with noted scholars at Kolozsvár, Transylvania (Hungary), 1818 - 1819
Slavic language studies at Temesvár and Zagreb (Hungary), 1819


Travelled from Nagyenyed (Hungary) to Teheran (Persia)
1819 November 23 - 1820 October 14
Stayed in Teheran, during this time communication with Hungary was stopped, he became considered to be a lost person in Hungary.
1820 October 14 - 1821 March 1

Travelled from Teheran to Srinagar (Kashmir-India).
1821 March 1 - 1822 April 17


Travelled from Srinagar to Leh, Ladakh. He planned to continue from Leh to China through the Karakorum Pass but it turned out to be too dangerous for a European, decided to return to Srinagar, 1822 May.

In the village Dras he met Moorcroft, an Englishman, July 16, 1822. They both returned to Leh, Ladakh.
Stayed in Leh through October 1822 and then returned to Srinagar.

Following Moorcroft's advise Csoma decided to study Tibetan language and Buddhist culture.
1822 November 26 - 1823 May 2

Leh, preparation for Tibetan studies.
1823 June 1- June 17

Zangla, the first Tibetan monastery
Csoma reached Zangla after nine days of travel, where he met the learned Lama Sangye Püntsog and started his Tibetan studies under the guidance of the lama.
1823 June 26 - 1824 October 22

Csoma spent some time at Sabathu, a British hill station to recover after the exhausting journey.
1824 November 26 - 1825 June 6

Phuktal, the second Tibetan monastery
Heading for the interiors of the Himalaya, Csoma did not take the better known route, the one he had travelled from Zangla to Sabathu. Instead, he reached Phuktal in the Zanskar region after two months of ardous travel, which took him through the Sutlej Valley. During this trip he passed through a very pleasant land surrounding Kanam monastery. In Kanam he found a complete collection of Kangyur and Tengyur, the Buddhist Kanon. During this time Csoma could not advance in his Tibetan studies as he planned because Lama Sangye Püntsog, his Tibetan tutor often left.
1825 November 10 - 1826 October

Csoma stayed in Sabathu. 1827 Januar - 1827 June

Kanam, the third Tibetan monastery
Finally, in Kanam Csoma had the ideal circumstances for his Tibetan and Buddhist studies. For most of the time his tutor Lama Sangye Püntsog stayed with him.
1827 August - the fall of 1830


Calcutta (India), 1831 May 5 - 1835 December 14.
Csoma took his manuscripts from Sabathu to Calcutta and started the organization of the data and the completion of his planned work. He published his results in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

1834 January 5:
The publication date of Csoma's principal work the "Tibetan - English Dictionary". Then in December 1834 his "Tibetan Grammar" was published. In 1834 Csoma was elected to be a honorary member of the Asiatic Society.

Stayed in Titalja, North Bengal, 1835 December - 1837 November: Here, his research was presumably focused on finding the original Asian homeland of the Hungarians by using linguistic methods.

Calcutta. 1837 December - 1842 February Csoma worked in the library of the Asiatic Society, published several articles and worked on the catalog of the newly arrived Tibetan books.

February 9, 1842:
Csoma embarked on a trip to Lhasa (Tibet). On March 24, 1842 he reached Darjeeling where he died on the 11 April probably in malaria.

His grave in Darjeeling is guarded by the eight thousand meter snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga.

A Short Account of the Life of
Alexander Csoma de Kõrös,
Inducing an Intelligent One into Diligence

May all be virtuous and blissful!

I bow down to the great savant,
Who studied Tibetan and its literature,
With wonderful firmness, mindfulness, diligence,
Renunciation, and courage.

In 1784 of the C.E.
In the village of Kõrös in Hungary,
A wonderful child was born,
He was named as Alexander Csoma.

He was pure in his conduct,
Striving for virtue.
Through honesty he became trustworthy.
He loved others and gave up harming others,
Thus he became worthy of praise and honor.

This superb young man
Associating with two others
Made a solemn vow
To search for the origin of his ancestors
In the countries of the East.

The other two broke their vow,
But this gentle man,
Like writing on stone,
Did not change his mind
Even risking his own life.
He remained up to age 35 in his own country,
Then he started travelling
In foreign countries for twelve years.

In a village of Zanskar, Ladakh
He approached the learned master
Sangye Puntsog,
Studied Tibetan and its literature
And became a scholar of Tibetan literature.

In a right manner,
Studying, pondering and meditating,
He composed an epitome of the Three Baskets
And wrote it in English.

Then, for eleven years
He did literary work
Composing a grammar and dictionary of Tibetan,
In order to spread Tibetan literature in the world.

He never relinquished
Love and devotion to his country and his country people,
Even reaching the pinnacle of a savant
He still engaged in searching out his ancestors' origins.

He was fifty eight, in 1842 C.E.
In the vicinity of Darjeeling in the Himalayas,
When he went to the realm of peace.

As long as the people of Tibet and other countries
Study Tibetan and its lieterature,
May the rays of the lamp of this ascetic
Spread, dispelling the darkness of people.

By the merit of writing this Short Account of the Life of Alexander
Csoma de Kõrös, may Tibetan literature be spread, all over the world.

This was composed, on May 5, 2000, by the venerable Lobzang Jamspal, a Tibetan lama from Ladakh for the exhibition in the Alexander Csoma de Kõrös Memorial Park, Tar.