Students for a Free Tibet-India (SFT) celebrated the 33rd birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama in the northern Indian city of Dharamshala, reflecting the friendly relations between India and Tibet. But their relationship didn’t blossom overnight. The two countries share a relationship that dates back to the 7th century when Buddhism was introduced to Tibet. In order to preserve and propagate Dharma Buddhism, Tibet sent many of its people to India to study Buddhism and simultaneously invited many Indian Buddhist masters to Tibet.
According to the book “Tibet: A Political History”, Buddhism arrived in Tibet in the 7th century from Nepal and India, but the real spread began in the 8th century with the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava and Acharya Shantarakshita. Although the book states that Buddhism was introduced in the 7th century, but according to the records of the history of Tibet, it came to the country in the 3rd century during the time of the 28th Tibetan royal line Lha Tho Thori Nyentsen, reported the Tibetan press. 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 from India. Thus, here it can be said that the seed of Buddhism in Tibet was planted in the 3rd century but could not proliferate until after the 7th century.
At the beginning of the spread, three kings namely King Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen and King Tri Ralpachen with the help of Indian Pandita Buddhists played an important role. Due to their immense contribution, these kings are referred to as the three Dharma Rajas in the history of Tibet. The first of the three Dharma Rajas was Songtsen Gampo, the 33rd king. Intending to introduce Buddhism and Tibetan script to his country, King sent one of his ministers Thonmi Sambota with sixteen other companions to learn the Sanskrit language and Buddhist literature in India. While in India, Thonmi Sambota learned Sanskrit from her tutor Lipikara and Devavidyasimha and returned to Tibet. Later, he devised Tibetan script by 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 royal line. When he returned to the throne, many ministers, devoted to the Bon religion, opposed the king and to eradicate all these obstacles hindering the development of Buddhism, the king sent his minister Ba Salnang to Nepal to invite Shantarakshita (master Indian Buddhist) to teach the basic doctrine of Buddhism. Later, Guru Padmasambhava, the great Indian tantric master of Tibet was also invited to the country, Tibet Press reported. With his arrival, Padmasambhava, through his powerful Tantric tactics, was able to subdue the Bon spirits and also made them take an oath to uphold the new religion, namely Buddha Dharma.
In fact, Tibetan history records that many of these spirits were later incorporated into the Buddhist pantheon as Dharma Protectors. Their contribution to Tibetan history cannot be measured. They are also known as Khanlob Chosum: the Acharya (Shantarakshita), the Abbot (Padmasambhava) and the Dharmaraja (Trisong Detsen). Furthermore, the second Dharma Raja of his reign sent young Tibetans to India to train and study Indian Buddhism. Under Shantarakshita’s leadership, the king also introduced the aconite system to Tibet.
Third Dharma Raja, Tri Ralpachen invested huge amount of money in building temples and monasteries and also supported Indian scholars like Upadhaya Jyanamitra, Ratnarakshita to re-translate scriptures and commentaries which were not translated according to the standard terminology during the reign of previous kings, as reported by Tibet Press. But unfortunately, the era of the religious kings of Tibet ended with the assassination of King Ralpachan by the followers of his elder brother Lang-Darma. His older brother opposed the Buddhist religion and did everything to destroy the teachings of Buddhism in Tibet. During his reign, Buddhism suffered a terrible setback, the monks were forced either to remove their robes, or to marry, or to declare themselves followers of the Bon religion. Many monasteries and scriptures were destroyed and reduced to ashes. This era was often referred to 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 line of kingship came to an end, which eventually led to the collapse of the great Tibetan kingdom. Lang Darma tried everything to destroy Buddhism but he still couldn’t pull it from its roots. Therefore, the spark of the second phase of Buddhism was born from Western Tibet where the king of Guge, Tsenpo Khore gave his throne into the hands of his younger brother Songe and himself became a monk and ordained Lha Lama Yeshe Od . Their ancestors trace back to the line of King Lang-darma, according to Tibet Press.
So, with the help of Indian Buddhist masters and King Buddha Dharma of Tibet, Buddhism not only stayed in the country but also spread to other countries like Mongolia, Nepal and Bhutan. (ANI)
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