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Tibetan Religion2018-12-12T09:47:07+00:00

Tibetan Religion

When it comes to the religion of the Tibetan people. Many travelers have the pre-established notion of all the Tibetans Being a Buddhism. Yet the fact is like all the region on the surface of the earth, We also have varieties of religions in Tibet, co-existing peacefully with each other.

Buddhism has been the main religion of Tibet since the 8th century AD. Before Buddhism was arrive in Tibet. Indigenous animistic and Shamanic religion called Bön was the main religion for Tibetan. Now, this religion is practice by sizable minorities in Tibet. This religion has a strong influence in the formation of Buddhism in Tibet later.

According to the estimates, 91% of the Tibetan are buddhist and rest are of Bön, Muslim, and Christian. People following the Bön religions are the sizable amount in Tibet with 400,000. There are four mosques in Tibet with 5,000 Tibetan muslim. The is a Catholic Church in Yanjing in eastern Tibet with 700 Parishioners.

1)Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism is a very unique blend of Buddhism where there are many influences from the traditional Bon religion, Like prayer flags and offering incenses for purification. Buddhism was first introduced in the 7th century by the 33rd King of Tibet called Songtsen Gampo. legend has it that his great great grandfather received one statue of Buddha, A small stupa and a scripture from heaven. Yet only during the time of Songtsan Gampo time they were able to understand this auspicious sign. In the 7th century, he started establishing the Buddhism in Tibet. He married the Tang Princess Wencheng and Nepalese princess Brikuti to Invite the two holy statues of Buddha from Tang and Nepal respectively.

Tibetan Buddhism

In the coming centuries, there has been a lot of Ups and Downs to the Buddhism in Tibet. Now Buddhist in Tibet is about 91% of the entire population of Tibet. The practice of Tibetan Buddhism is not only popular in Tibet, but also in Mongolia, Northern India, southern republics in Russia and other parts of China.

Initially, there were two main practitioners, the lay practitioners communities and Monastic communities. Later the importance and prevalence of lay practitioners reduce and importance of Monastic communities has increased.

There are four main different schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Each school differs in terms of their ways and approaches to the enlightenment. Rather then that all the schools have same common root teacher that is the Buddha himself and his teaching.

       The Meaning of the word Nyingma means the old one. The school of Tibetan Buddhism was found by Guru Padmasambhava with the establishment of first Tibetan monastery of Samye. This is the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism

       The Meaning of the word Sakya means pale earth. The name was adopted after the unique grey landscape of Ponpori Hills in southern Tibet where the first monastery is built for the school. This school is founded by the Khon Konchog Gyalpo. he is the student of great translator Drokmi Lostawa. Since then the school is headed by the head of the Khon Family.

       The meaning of the word Kagyu means oral lineage. The tradition of Kagyupa started in Tibet by Marpa Lotsawa and his student Milarepa. Within the Kagyu, there are four major schools and eight minor schools. Kagyu is an oral tradition, it is very much concerned with the experiential dimension of the meditation. The most famous master in this tradition is Milarepa.

       The meaning of word Gelugpa means the way of Virtue. it is also known as the yellow hat sect. This school is found by Tsongkapa, base on the tradition and teaching of Kadampa tradition. This tradition currently has the most followers and all the monasteries you will visit in Lhasa area belongs to this tradition.

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2) Bön (བོན་པོ།)

Bön is the indigenous pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet. It is an animist and shamanic belief system revolving around the worship of Nature. In the Bön, there is three scripture relating to the Mythos of Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche; mdo ‘dusgzer mig, and gzi brjid.

Bön religion of Tibet

The Bön religion is characterized by its Sacrifices, spirit manipulation, spells, and Rituals. Meditative practice is highly emphasized in this religion. Before Buddhism was introduced in Tibet, this religion is the major religion of Tibetan and it has significant influences to Current Tibetan Buddhism. Including the current tradition such as prayer flag, Prayer wheels, sky burial, and Cham dance.

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3) Christianity in Tibet

Nestorians are the first Christians documented to have reached Tibet. Various inscriptions and remains of them have been found in Tibet. They have also debated in 1256 with Karma Pakshi of Karma Kagyu sect at the imperial camp of Mongke Khan at Shira Ordo. In the 18th century, Jesuits and Capuchins arrived in Tibet.

Christianity in Tibet

In 1624 Portuguese missionaries Jesuit Father António de Andrade and Brother Manuel Marque arrived in the Kingdom of Guge. They were welcomed and allowed to build the church in the capital. There were hundreds of local convert in the kingdom by 1627. Christianity was later introduced in Ladakh and other parts of Tibet Including the Tsang. Tsang ruler welcomed the Jesuits and in 1626 established a Jesuit outpost at Shigatse.

There was also an influence of Christian missionaries from the Other parts of China to Kham and Amdo area of Tibetan inhabitant places.

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4) Islam in Tibet

As early as the 8th and 9th century Muslims has been living in Tibet. Tibetan Muslim are commonly called Kachee. There are small communities of Muslims in Tibetan Cities. Tibetan Muslim can trace their origin from three main regions: Kashmir also knows as Kachee Yul in ancient Tibetan, Ladakh and Turkic countries in central Asia.

Islam in Tibet

Later in during the reign of fifth Dalia Lama, he gave a great privilege for the Muslim in Tibet, given land for Mosque and Burial. they were given free tax for their business and even have the representative in assemble in Potala Palace.

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