Khampa Tibetan in India

Khampa Tibetan
Photo Source:  COMIBAM / Sepal 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Khampa Tibetan
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 1,100
World Population: 1,600,800
Primary Language: Khamba
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.90 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Translation Started
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Tibetan
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Khampa have a fearsome reputation as the most hostile and violent of the various Tibetan subgroups. They were once described as, "Tall and well-built men, fearless and open of countenance, they resemble Apache Indians, with plaited hair hanging from each side of well modeled heads."

The Khampa have a long history of conflict with the Chinese, who annexed most of Kham Province to Sichuan in 1720. At that time, no Chinese dared to enter the territory for fear of being murdered. The issue came to a head in the 1950s when Communist China was solidifying their hold on Tibet, and there was massive carnage at the hands of the Red Army. Though most Khampas remained till the bitter end, some fled either to Bhutan or northeastern India.

Where Are they Located?

Though most of the Khampa Tibetans live in China and Bhutan, a small number are in India's northeastern region.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Tibetan society has two basic levels: the family and the social classes (commoners, clergy, and nobility). Polyandry (a woman who has several husbands) is socially accepted and very common. Some polygamy (multiple marriage partners) also exists among the wealthy and those of noble descent.

The Khampa Tibetans in India have been there for a couple of generations now, and many are unfamiliar with Tibet, even though it's close to their homes in northeastern India. Some Tibetans in India are returning to Tibet, though this situation might not continue if the Chinese government steps up their efforts to make Tibet more Chinese and less Tibet.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Monks from India first brought Buddhism to China between the third and the first centuries BC Khampa Tibetans are predominantly Tantrayana Lamaistic Buddhists; although most continue their shamanistic traditions as well. (Shamanism is the belief that there are many gods, demons and ancestral spirits. They depend on priests or priestesses, called "shamans", to cure the sick by magic, communicate with the gods, and control events.)

Formal Buddhism has four main branches, one of which is Lamaistic Buddhism. Most of the groups follow the same religious calendar. They also use similar types of burials: water burial, burial in trees, and cremation. All Buddhists believe that right thinking, ritual sacrifices, and self-denial will enable the soul to reach nirvana (eternal bliss) at death. They live in fear of their gods and constantly strive to appease them with chants, rituals and sacrifices. They also believe in a continuing cycle of death and rebirth (reincarnation).

What Are Their Needs?

The Khampa Tibetans in India need to be freed spiritually by the spiritual liberator, Jesus Christ, who offers abundant, eternal life to all who call on His name.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Khampa culture to be renewed and enhanced by a work of the Holy Spirit and shaped into a God-centered and God-honoring mold.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to move among Khampa family and community leaders to seek His face and enjoy His blessings.
Pray for the Lord to thrust out workers who will be compelled to nurture a disciple making movement among the Khampa people.
Pray that soon the Khampa people will have faith that will lead them to live honorable lives that will draw others to the Savior.

Text Source:   Keith Carey