Lobsang Monlam – Monlam Bod-Yig v.3
Living The Tibetan Tech Dream - Chat, Email In Tibetan

Lobsang Monlam, creator of Monlam Tibetan font

Photo by Lobsang Wangyal

Lobsang Monlam begins a new era of electronic communication in Tibetan; Tibetan World's Tenzin Nyima takes you through Lobsang's arduous but successful journey (May 2007):

Sending an Email or chatting with your loved ones in Tibetan was unheard of until now, but one person is all set to make that dream a reality — the person is none other than Lobsang Monlam, a monk from Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe.

The 31-year Amdo-born monk, who is already a familiar name to most Tibetan computer users, began his journey into the computer geek's world in 2002, when he, out of sheer curiosity, bought his first computer. Lobsang, who is currently pursuing his Geshe Degree studies at Sera Monastic University, says the person who sold him the computer taught him how to turn the machine on and off, adding that he knew nothing else about the computer except that it was an amazing technology.

Describing his journey, Lobsang says, with an almost childlike excitement, "I had an extremely tough time since I understood neither the computer nor a word of English. Many a times, my computer would go blank and I would wonder, 'Now what?' But even though they were really difficult times, I still loved it since those were learning experiences, helping me to eventually master all the things I am working on right now."

For many, speaking about a monk may conjure up images of monasteries or holy places with solemn monks religiously following monastic studies and chanting prayers, but Lobsang has gone beyond the stereotypical image. Never losing a moment, Lobsang, who escaped to India in 1993, relentlessly worked on improving his knowledge of the computer ever since he owned his first personal machine. But perhaps, what is extraordinary is that the monk has proved to be a genius in computer programming even with barely knowing how to read and write English.

In 2005, he invented Monlam Bod Yig Version 1, which although similar to the existing Tibetan fonts like TCRC Bod Yig, had the additional U-Mey script version. Many people from Tibet, especially those from his own hometown, Amdo Ngawa, used the font, giving him relevant feedback and suggestions to improve the font.

In 2006 Lobsang launched his latest invention, Monlam Bod Yig Version 2, a Unicode font, [and in 2009, improved it again in Version 3, now completely Unicode and with more fonts]. It is seen as a boon not only for computer professionals but also for ordinary people interested in just emailing and chatting online.

"Until today, we write Tibetan in a Word document and then attach the file with our email. Now people can chat and write emails in Tibetan language directly," says an enthusiastic Lobsang.

Even with so much already on his platter, Lobsang reveals that he has a few more projects related to Monlam Fonts lined up. The new-age Tibetan computer genius, who believes in the importance of feedback from users, says he is awaiting the response from users to his new invention. Lobsang avers, "I received a lot of feedback from users for Version 1 of my font and those suggestions resulted in the creation of Version 2. So, I will wait and see."

Lobsang hints that if people find his Version 2 font useful, he just might start working on a dictionary for the words as well as a spell check, similar to that found in Microsoft Word. [Aug 2010: The dictionary is close to release. See story at Tibet.net]

While one must wait and ascertain how many Tibetans around the world will join in this new era of electronic communication in Tibetan language, one cannot help but applaud the efforts of Lobsang Monlam for initiating the era.

It is indeed an exceptional thing to come across a monk who writes software programs especially in a society as conservative as ours where the roles of monks and laypersons are very well defined.

(Editing by Tephun Tenzin Shastri and Tenzin Pema Chashar)

More information about Lobsang Monlam

MONLAM BOD YIG VERSION 2 [and 3] — Frequently Asked Questions

[The questions below were asked in 2007 about Version 2, but all the answers apply to Version 3 as well.]

How we can use Monlam Tibetan Font Version 2?
You simply need to install the fonts. It is available free from his website www.lobsangmonlam.org or here at Tibetan Geeks.
Is it user friendly?
Yes, it is very easy! You don't need any advanced computer knowledge to work with Monlam Tibetan Fonts.
Is it commercial?
Monlam fonts are free. It is open software and has no commercial value. Monlam Fonts exist only due to personal interest of Lobsang Monlam and his urge in improving Tibetan language among the youngsters since computer is the most popular medium for today's younger generation.
What are the special features?
Monlam Tibetan Font Version 2 is not only a font which we normally use in text documents such as Microsoft Word and Notepad. It is in fact more than that. Following are some of its special features:
  • Keyboard Compatibility: Letters for Monlam Tibetan Font Version 2 are fixed in such a position that most commonly used words are grouped at the most accessible position. And it has very good compatibility with the English letters.
  • Time Saving: Unlike other fonts, Monlam Tibetan Font Version 2 saves a lot more time. It is almost like you are typing an English word.
  • 10 different printable fonts: There are 10 different printable Tibetan fonts in Version 2. There are different types of U-Chen, U-Mey, Duk-Tsa and Khyuk-Yik. There are few more web fonts as well.
  • You can directly change the fonts: Unlike Monlam Tibetan Font Version 1, Version 2 has this special feature of changing the fonts directly. If you have a letter typed in U-Chen and at the end you want the latter in Khyuk-Yik, you can directly change the fonts (same as you do in English). In the first version, you can't do that.
  • Help file: Monlam V.2 has a beautiful, extensive help as a PDF file, showing the features of the font and how to use them, the keyboard layout, all the Monlam Art characters, and more.
  • Monlam Art: The version 2 has also number of different Tibetan graphics such as eight auspicious signs and other such Tibetan art.
  • Version 2 is a Unicode font: This means that the font will work on any computer, any operating system, now and into the future. All modern fonts are now Unicode fonts. To understand more about Unicode, see our Unicode FAQ
Does it work properly with all the versions of MS Windows?
It works with MS Windows 2000 or higher. It also works excellently with latest MS Windows Vista.
Other features:
If you don't know English at all...you can still work on your computer by using Monlam Bod Yig. With the Monlam Bod Yig program you can almost change your computer language. You can name your folders, files and all other desktop icons in Tibetan. Almost all the commands can be done in Tibetan.
Future Related Projects:
Monlam Tibetan Fonts Version 2 for Mac and Linux.
Spelling checking and dictionary facilities in Monlam Bod Yig.

Download the Monlam Bod-Yig font

You can download the Monlam Bod-Yig V.3 Unicode font here on this site [English], or from its home at Lobsang Monlam's site [Tibetan].

other pages about Lobsang Monlam

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