This article is about historical/cultural Tibet. For the administrative region of the People's Republic of China, see Tibet Autonomous Region. For other uses, see Tibet (disambiguation). Cultural/historical Tibet (highlighted) depicted with various competing territorial claims. Tibet Autonomous Region within the People's Republic of China Historic Tibet as claimed by Tibetan exile groups Tibetan areas as designated by the People's Republic of China Chinese-controlled areas claimed by India as part of Aksai Chin Indian-controlled areas claimed by China as part of Tibet Other areas historically within Tibetan cultural sphere Tibet (Tibetan: བོད་; Wylie: bod ; IPA: pʰø̀ʔ; Chinese: 西藏; pinyin: Xī Zàng) is a plateau region in Asia, north of the Himalayas, and the home to the indigenous Tibetan people and some other ethnic groups, such as Monpas and Lhobas. With an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft), it is the highest region on Earth and has in recent decades increasingly been referred to as the "Roof of the World".
During Tibet's history, it has been an independent country, divided into different countries, and a part of China each for a certain amount of time. Tibet was first unified under King Songtsän Gampo in the seventh century. A government nominally headed by the Dalai Lamas, a line of spiritual leaders, ruled a large portion of the Tibetan region at various times from the 1640s until 1950s. During most of this period, the Tibetan administration was subordinate to the Chinese empire of the Qing Dynasty. The 13th Dalai Lama proclaimed Tibet independent in 1913, but this declaration was not accepted by China, nor recognized by any country as a de jure independent nation. As a measure of the power that regents must have wielded, it is important to note that only three of the fourteen Dalai Lamas have actually ruled Tibet; regents ruled during 77 percent of the period from 1751 until 1960. The Communist Party of China gained control of central and western Tibet (Tibet area controlled by the Dalai Lama) after a decisive military victory at Chamdo in 1950. The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959.
Today, Tibet is administered by the People's Republic of China (PRC) (Mainland China) and still claimed by the Republic of China (ROC) (Taiwan) in its constitution while a small part, according to the PRC and the ROC, is controlled by India. Both sides of Chinese government regard Tibet as part of China. Currently, Beijing and the Government of Tibet in Exile disagree over when Tibet became a part of China, and whether the incorporation into China of Tibet is legitimate according to international law (see Tibetan sovereignty debate). Since what constitutes Tibet is a matter of much debate (see map, right) neither its size nor population are simple matters of fact, due to various entities claiming differing parts of the area as a Tibetan region.
Last edited by TubHmoob on June 4th 2009, 5:02 pm; edited 3 times in total
One of the World's most Beautiful Buddhas, United States of America, Shrine, Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism, Seattle, Washington, USA
Tibetan Buddhism Almost all Tibetans follow Tibetan Buddhism Tibetan Buddhism is called “Buddhism” by the local Tibetans, without any words to qualify it. Elsewhere in the outside world it is know as Lamaism, Tibetan Buddhism etc.
Before Buddhism was introduced into Tibet, Tibetans followed the primitive Bo religion (also known as Bon or Black religion), mainly concerned with driving out evil spirits and divining luck.
Buddhism spread from the Central Plains and Nepal into Tibet during the 7th century, particularly during the ZhenGuan years of Tang Dynasty (Zhen Guan was the name given by the emperor to symbolize the years when he reigned).
Song tsan Gam bo (a king in Tibet) was influenced by his wives Princess Khridzun of Nepal and Princess Wencheng of China's Tang Dynasty towards Buddhism. He also began the creation of Tibetan calligraphy and the translation of Buddhist scriptures. Thus Buddhism rose in popularity in Tibet while Bon went into decline. Buddhism spread quickly, and has exerted an extensive and profound influence on the Tibetan race in terms of Tibetan values, morals, psychology and the mode of thinking.
In the late 8th century, in order to shield and sustain Buddhism, Trison Detsan built many monasteries and translated a large number of Buddhist scriptures. He invited Zhibatsho and Padmasambhava, famous Indian monks, to carry forward the spirit of Buddhism. Padmasambhava combined elements from the Indian Esoteric Sect with the Tibetan primitive Bon religion to form “Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism”(or Tibetan Tantrism). Since then, Tibetan Buddhism separated from the Central Plains, and although deeply influenced by Indian Buddhism developed a style of its own.
In 837 BC, the Tibetan King Tritso Detsan was assassinated and Langdarma, who was supported by Bon forces, ascended the throne. He persecuted Buddhists, forced monks and nuns to resume secular life and was later killed by Buddhists. Though Langdarma had only reigned in Tibet for four years, he brought great destruction to Tibetan Buddhism.
After the strike, Tibetan Buddhism had been quiet for more than a century and it began to revive at the beginning of the 11th century. After the mid-11th century, numerous Buddhist Acts emerged, including the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug sects and since then Buddhism prospered again. It was the prevailing period of Tibetan Buddhism. At the time many different independent sects appeared.
The doctrine of the Tibetan Buddhism is based on the Mahavairocana-sutra and the Kalacakraindriya-sutra but priority is given to Mahavairocana-sutra. The four Characteristics of Tibetan Buddhism are the constant practice of its paternoster; highly respect to Lamas; beliefs in reincarnation and the combination of religion and politics.
A brief account of Tibet, its origin, how it grew into a great military power and carved for itself a huge empire in Central Asia, then how it renounced the use of arms to practise the teachings of the Buddha and the tragic conseguences that it suffers today as a result of the brutal onslaught of the Communist Chinese forces is given in the following passages.
Five hundred years before Buddha Sakyamuni came into this world i.e., circa 1063 B.C., a semi-legendary figure known as Lord Shenrab Miwo reformed the primitive animism of the Shen race and founded the Tibetan Bon religion. According to Bonpo sources there were eighteen Shangshung Kings who ruled Tibet before King Nyatri Tsenpo. Tiwor Sergyi Jhagruchen was the first Shangshung King.
Shangshung, before its decline, was the name of an empire which comprised the whole of Tibet. The empire known as Shangshung Go-Phug-Bar-sum consisted of Kham and Amdo forming the Go or Goor, U and Tsang forming the Bar or Middle, and Guge Stod-Ngari Korsum forming the Phug or Interior.
As the Shangshung empire declined, a kingdom known as Bod, the present name of Tibet, came into existence at Yarlung and Chongyas valleys at the time of King Nyatri Tsenpo, who started the heroic age of the Chogyals (Religious Kings). Bod grew until the whole of Tibet was reunited under King Songtsen Gampo, when tha last Shangshung King, Ligmigya, was killed.
The official Tibetan Royal Year of the modern Tibetan calendar is dated from the enthronement of King Nyatri Tsenpo in 127 B.C. This lineage of Tibetan monarchy continued for well over a thousand years till King Tri Wudum Tsen, more commonly known as Lang Darma, was assassinated in 842 A.D.
Most illustrious of the above kings were Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen and Ralpachen. They are called the Three Great Kings.
The Great King Songtsen Gampo with his Nepalese and Chinese Queen
During the reign of King Songtsen Gampo (629-49) Tibet became a great military power and her armies marched across Central Asia. He promoted Buddhism in Tibet and sent one of his ministers and other young Tibetans to India for study. He first took a Tibetan princess from the Shangshung King as his wife and then obtained a Nepalese consort. After invading the Chinese Empire he also obtained a Chinese princess as one of his wives. The two latter wives have been given prominence in the religious history of Tibet because of their services to Buddhism. During the reign of King Trisong Detsen (755-97) the Tibetan Empire was at its peak and its armies invaded China and several Central Asian countries. In 763 the Tibetans seized the then Chinese capital at Ch'ang-an (present day Xian). As the Chinese Emperor had fled, the Tibetans appointed a new Emperor. This memorable victory has been preserved for posterity in the Zhol Doring (stone pillar) in Lhasa and reads, in part:
"King Trisong Detsen, being a profound man, the breadth of his counsel was extensive, and whatever he did for the kingdom was completely successful. He conguered and held under his sway many districts and fortresses of China. The Chinese Emperor, Hehu Ki Wang and his ministers were terrified. They offered a perpetual yearly tribute of 50,000 rolls of silk and China was obliged to pay this tribute
It was during his time that Samye, the first monastery in Tibet, was founded by Guru Padmasambhava, who also established the supremacy of Buddhism and coverted the indigenous deities into guardians of the Dharma. King Trisong Detsen also expelled the Chinese monk (Hoshang) and banished the Chinese Chan school of Buddhism from Tibet forever and adopted the Indian system. He also declared Buddhism as the state religion of Tibet.
During the reign of King Ralpachen (815-36) the Tibetan armies won many victories and in 821-2 a peace treaty was concluded with China. The inscription of the text of the treaty exists in three places: One outside the Chinese Emperor's palace gate in Ch'ang-an, another before the main gate of Jokhang temple in Lhasa and the third on the Tibetan-China border at Mount Guru Meru. Eminent Tibetan scholars, Kawa Paltsek and Chogru Lui Gyaltsen, worked with Indian scholars, invited them to Tibet and prepared the first Sanskrit-Tibetan lexicon called the Mahavyutpatti.
In 838 King Ralpachen's brother, Tri Wudum Tsen, ascended the throne. He tried to reinstate the Bon religion and persecuted the Buddhists. After his assassination by a Buddhist monk the kingdom was divided between his two sons. With warring princes, lords and generals contending for power the mighty Tibetan Empire disintegrated into many small princedoms and a dark period fell over Tibet during 842-1247.
In 1073 Konchog Gyalpo founded the Sakya monastery. His son and successor, Sakya Kunga Nyingpo, formulated the tantric traditions of the great scholars Marpa and Drogme and founded the Sakya sect. The Sakya lamas grew in power and from 1254 to 1350 Tibet was ruled by a succession of 20 Sakya lamas. The Mongols, who invaded many countries of Europe and Asia, also invaded Tibet and reached Phenpo, north of Lhasa. However, Prince Godan, the ruling Khan, was converted to Buddhism by Sakpa Kunga Gyaltsen, popularly known as Sakya Pandita, and the invading force was withdrawn. The next Khan, Kublai, was also converted to Buddhism by Sakya Pandita's nephew and successor, Sakya Phagpa. In return, Kublai Khan gave recognition of full sovereignty over "the three provinces of Tibet : U-Tsang, Dhotoe and Dhome" to Sakya Phagpa.
The influence of the Sakya priest-rulers gradually declined after the death of Kublai Khan in 1295. In 1358 the province of U (Central Tibet) fell into the hands of the Governor of Nedong, Changchub Gyaltsen, a monk of the Phamo Drugpa branch of Kagyud school, and for the next 86 years, eleven Lamas of the Phamo Drugpa lineage ruled Tibet.
But, after the death of Drakpa Gyaltsen, the fifth Phamo Drugpa ruler, in 1434, power passed into the hands of the Rinpung family who were related to Drakpa Gyaltsen by marriage. From 1436 to 1566 the heads of the Rinpung family held power.
Meanwhile, Tsongkhapa Losang Dragpa, one of the greatest scholars of Tibet, was born in 1357. He founded Gaden, the first Gelugpa monastery, in 1409 and began the Gelug lineage.