By using multiple data sources and two sensitivity experiments using the atmospheric general circulation model of CAM4.0, we investigated the effect of thermal forcing over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) on the onset of the South Asian summer monsoon, including over the Arabian Sea (AS) and India. Results indicate that the seesaw pattern of diabatic heating over the TP, with a southeastern–northwestern inverse distribution in May, shows a robust relationship with the date of monsoon onset over the AS and India, which is independent of the influences from ocean signals. A positive diabatic heating seesaw pattern can enhance the ascending (descending) motion over the southeastern (northwestern) TP, corresponding to above (below) normal in- situ precipitation. Temperature budget diagnosis reveals that the adiabatic heating by the anomalous vertical motion and relevant horizontal advection of temperature convergence in the mid-upper troposphere are contributors to the warming over the TP. Consequently, the transition of the meridional temperature gradient over South Asian regions occurs earlier. Furthermore, the diabatic heating over the TP induces an enhanced and westward-extended South Asian high (SAH), which together with the easterly along the southern flank of the SAH superimpose on the low-level westerly flow over the AS and India, resulting in intensive upper-level divergence-pumping and upward motion. This anomalous circulation configuration in lower and upper levels further facilitates an earlier onset of summer monsoon in these two regions. These findings are corroborated in the sensitivity runs based on CAM4.0.