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Journey of Buddhism, From India to Tibet

Journey of Buddhism, From India to Tibet

LHASA, (ANI) – Indian -Tibetan ties go back to the 7th Century when Buddhism was introduced to Tibet. To preserve and propagate the Buddhism Dharma, Tibet sent many of its people to India to study Buddhism and simultaneously invited many Indian Buddhist masters to Tibet.

According to “Tibet: A Political History” book, Buddhism came to Tibet in 7th Century from Nepal and India, but the actual propagation began in the 8th Century with the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava and Acharya Shantarakshita. Although the book states that Buddhism was introduced in 7th Century, according to Tibet’s History records, it arrived in the country in 3rd century at the time of 28th Tibetan Royal line Lha Tho Thori Nyentsen.

During his reign, he received a book of Buddhist scriptures written in Sanskrit and even an early Tibetan Historian Nel-pa Pandita mentions that the book was received from a certain Pandita Losemtso of India. Thus, here it can be said that the seed of Buddhism in Tibet was planted in the 3rd century but was able to proliferate only after the 7th century.

In the early phase of propagation, three kings namely kings Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen and Tri Ralpachen with the assistance of Indian Buddhist Pandita’s played a significant role. Due to their immense contribution, these kings are referred to as the three Dharma Rajas in the history of Tibet.

Songtsen Gampo, the 33rd king. With an intention to introduce Buddhism and Tibetan script in his country, he sent one of his ministers Thonmi Sambota with other sixteen companions to learn Sanskrit and Buddhist literature in India. During his stay in India, Thonmi Sambota learnt Sanskrit from his tutor Lipikara and Devavidyasimha and returned to Tibet. Later, he devised the Tibetan script taking the model of Brahmi and Gupta script and is known as the father of Tibetan language and literature.

The second Dharma Raja was king Trisong Detsen, the 38th in the royal line. When he ascended the throne, many ministers, who are devoted to Bon religion, opposed him and to eradicate all these hurdles coming in the way of the development of Buddhism, he sent his minister Ba Salnang to Nepal to invite Shantarakshita (Indian Buddhist Master) to teach the basic doctrine of Buddhism. Later, Guru Padmasambhava, the great Indian tantric master of Tibet was also invited to the country.

With his arrival, Padmasambhava through the means of his powerful tantric tactics was able to subdue the Bon spirits and made them to take an oath to defend the Buddha Dharma.

In fact, Tibetan history records that many of these spirits were later taken into the Buddhist pantheon as a Dharma protector. Their contribution to Tibetan history cannot be measured. They are also known as the Khanlob Chosum: The Acharya (Shantarakshita), the abbot (Padmasambhava) and the Dharmaraja (Trisong Detsen).

Besides, the second Dharma Raja during his reign sent the young Tibetans to India for training and study Indian Buddhism. Under the guidance of Shantarakshita, the king also introduced the system of monkhood in Tibet.

Third Dharma Raja, Tri Ralpachen invested a huge amount of money in the construction of temples and monasteries and supported Indian scholars like Upadhaya Jyanamitra, Ratnarakshita to retranslate the scriptures and commentaries which was not translated according to the standard terminology during the reign of the earlier kings.

But unfortunately, the era came to an end with the assassination of Ralpachan by the supporters of his elder brother Lang-Darma. His older brother did every bit to destroy the teachings of Buddhism in Tibet. Under his reign, Buddhism suffered a terrible setback, the monks were forced to either strip off their robes or marry or to declare themselves to be the followers of Bon religion. Many monasteries and scriptures were destroyed and burnt to the ashes. This era was often regarded as the “Dark Age of Tibetan Buddhism.”

Gradually, his atrocities became so intense that a pro Buddhist monk named Lalung Palgye Dorje assassinated Lang-darma in 842. Thus, with this the long lineage of royalty came to an end that ultimately led to the collapse of the great Tibetan Kingdom.

Lang Darma tried everything to destroy Buddhism but still he couldn’t remove it from its roots. Therefore, the spark for second phase of Buddhism arose from the western Tibet where the King of Guge, Tsenpo Khore gave his throne in the hand of his younger brother Songe and himself became a monk and ordained as Lha Lama Yeshe Od. Their forefathers can be traced back to the lineage of King Lang-darma.

Hence, with Indian Buddhist masters and Tibet’s Buddha Dharma king help, the Buddhism not only remained in the country but also disseminated to other countries like Mongolia, Nepal and Bhutan.

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