History of Tibet, Tibet has a very long history. This is our effort to provide you, Tibet history summary. According to some source, our history can date back to 4500 B.C. Since our is a travel site you would like to write a brief history of Tibet for the traveler to read before coming to Tibet. We think it is very helpful if travelers have little ideas about History of Tibet and other travel-related information.
Geographic origin of Tibetan Plateau
About Millions of year ago, the area what is now know as Tibet and roof of the world was a sea. Due to the immense pressure from the Indian tectonic plate moving northward and rigidity of Asian plate. The Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya mountain range has immersed. Now the average elevation of the Plateau is at four thousand meters above sea level.
Human Evolution of Tibet
In its early times, the area was covered in vast grassland and forest, there were no humans and animals lived a harmonious life. Then the Avalokitesvara the Buddha of compassion gave the laymen vow and sent it to meditation in a cave near what is now known a Yarlung valley. While the monkey was Meditating, an Ogress paid a visit to urge the monkey to marry her. The monkey was so committed to his vows and devoted to the Buddha.
Monkey told Ogress “I am on vows and I came here to meditate. if I will marry you, I will break my vow”. Ogress was very sad and she told: “if you are not going to marry me, I will have to marry with a demon and give a birth to many demons, they will multiply in thousands and then the Land of Snow will be populated with demons, So please have mercy on Me”.
Upon hearing her confusion, Monkey gave a though and he realizes “If he marries the Ogress, he will lose his vow, Yet if he does not marry her, he will sure going to sin”. So he went to his teacher to get his inside and advice. Avalokitesvara told marrying Ogress would be a victorious act as it would start a human race in Tibet.
At first, Ogress gave birth to six monkeys, each one has a different characteristic as each of them came from Different realms of Samsara and have a different karma. So their descendants also have difference even nowadays. People from Ü and Tsang are very devoted to dharma and people from Amdo are very persistence and People from Kham areas are little rough and not easy to deal with. So the father monkey sends them to separate places to live in separation.
Three years later when he visits all of them, he realizes the size of his family has now come to five hundred and there would be the shortage of fruits. So he when to Avalokitesvara for help. The Lord gave him three seed and ask him to sprinkle them on a land.
Since they start eating in a nontraditional way and change in the food. they gradually evolve into a human as tail become shorter and shorter and gradually they start expressing their though in verbal language. This is the evolution of human we believe in. Gradually after hardship over thousands of year, their start hunting using handmade tools like the ax, knife and so on.
Their lifestyle changes depending on the living condition and gradually Different living hood appear like Nomads, Farmer, and Semi-nomads. Many groups appeared, there were more and more disagreements and flights. So they felt, they need someone honest to lead and organized them.
History of Tibet, the first King
Around 127 BC when some herdsman were grazing their animal, they saw a young man.
They ask him where he is from and he points out to the sky. They regard him as a heavenly son and carried him to their village on their neck throne and made him king.
He is the first king of Tibet called “Nyatri Tsenpo” meaning “Neck throned king”. This was the beginning of Tsenpo’s period. There were forty-two kings following him. and the last one was Langdharma die in the 9th century.
Introduction of Buddhism in the history of Tibet
Buddhism was first introduced during the reign of 28th king Lha Tho Thori Nyantsen. Legend has it, that Buddhist scripture, a small statue of Buddha and small Stupa fell from the sky on the top of his palace. the three items signify the body, mind, and speech of Buddha. The scripture is written in Sanskrit and during that time no one can read. So it became state secret and it is called “Nyanpo Sangwang” melodious secret.
Lha Tho-Thori Nyantsen also received a prediction saying melodious secret would translate into common Tibetan written script after five generation from him. That was t
Songtsen Gampo, The greatest king in Tibetan history
The Our greatest ancestor the great king Songtsan Gampo and many great events have taken place during his time. In the seventh century, Songtsen Gampo སྲོང་བཙན་སྒམ་པོ་ unified Tibetan inhabitant place on the plateau, He married Chinese princess Wencheng from the Tang court and Princess Brikuti Devi from Nepal
His Main Achievements
He brought in the two holy statues of Buddha from Nepal and Tang China as a dowry in marriage their princess. Two famous Temple in Lhasa, The Jokhang Temple ཇོ་ཁང།, and the Ramoche Temple were built to house the two holy statues of Buddha. The king knew the hardship and inconvenient day to day living would be without a written language. For this, he sends 16 brightest and most diligent boys to learns Sanskrit in India. Only one boy would make it back alive to Tibet. the boy later makes the minister of the Yarlung court. Returns after learning how to read and write. He invents the first Tibetan written language, it was base on Sanskrit and the very first sentence made with this new scripture is Six syllabus Mantra of Avalokitesvara, The Om Mani Padme Hum. ཨོཾ་མ་ཎི་པདྨེ་ཧཱུྂ༔
He also translates many scriptures into Tibetan and spread them amount the Tibetan population. The Potala Palace was built for the Songtsen Gampo to meditation. Tibetan does consider him as an outstanding ruler and often consider as the manifestation of Avalokitesvara. He is also treated as one of the greatest ancestors in Tibet. So where ever you travel to Tibet you will find three kings picture and he is the one the in middle.
Successive kings of Tibet
King Songtsen Gampo and his successors have sponsored the construction of many temples and monasteries. During the of King Trisong Detsen, he institutionalized the Buddhism as the official religion of his court and the Yarlung dynasty. He with the Help of two prominent figure in Tibetan Buddhism, Guru Rinpoche and Śāntarakṣita from India.
There is a popular saying in our history that, initially in the days the human labors would build the monastery and in the night demons destroyed what was built in the daytime. So the Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava subdued the demos who were the obstacles to the construction of the Samye monastery. and gave a good window into the history of Tibet for the flourish of the New Religion from India.
During your visit to the Monastery. You will a part of the wall which clearly shows the work of the devils.
In the ninth during the reign of Tri Ralpachen. He makes a rule which state seven families can offer food and support a livelihood of a monk. Families would get tax lavage from the king. This lead to increase the number of monks and less cash flow towards the State.
However, his younger brother some non-Buddhist noble family do not like the situation. King Ralpachen was murdered and Lang Dharma took over.
Period of Decentralization
The King Lang Dharma was Anti-Buddhist. During his reign,
- He destroyed many monasteries,
- Burned lots of scriptures
- Force monk to become hunters and butchers
- Force them into marriage.
He was assassinate by a monk. He was the last king of Tibetan Yarlung Dynasty.
After this death, there is no central force unifying Tibet. It is the beginning of the Decentralization period. During the Period is decentralization life of people is very hard. There were many flights amount different sub-religions.
Rejuvenation of Buddhism
In the mid of the Decentralization time. some part of the royal family who migrates to western Tibet and establishes a small Kingdom called the Guge Kingdom. The Guge Kingdom invite the Atisha from India to preach Buddha’s teaching and help rejuvenate the Buddhism in the Land of snow. With the help of Atisha, the Buddhism regain its former position as a dominant religion of The land of Snow.
In the 17th Century. The fifth Dalai Lama took over the ruling power from all the those decentralize small kingdoms. Dalai Lama ask the Chinese Yuan dynasty To help end all the fight among the all the small groups and it brought along and everlasting peace in Tibet. Since Tibet has been unified and became the inseparable part of China.
Tibet is later Peacefully liberated in the year 1951 and in the year 1959 The Tibet Autonomous Region was set up. the century-old feudal system was replaced by Modern Socialist system. Since the open door policy, the economy, health service and education in Tibet are now at its optimal. Now Tibetan lives in the Golden Era of peace and prosperity.
Each year we have millions of people visiting us in Tibet from all over the world. We are happy to share the fruits and hard work of our ancestors in their quest for happiness. We welcome all to enjoy cultural relic and beautiful landscape.
How do you like this post. If you have any questions about the history of Tibet. Please do let us know.
Here are links to some interesting post
- Top 100 Travel Guidelines, The conclusive Tibet Travel Guide
- Sustainable and Responsible tourism in Tibet
- Potala Palace པོ་ཏ་ལ།།
- Top 100 Basic Tibetan Phrases to know in Tibet
- House of Shambhala