History and the Culture of Tibet
Brief history of Tibet
About millions of years ago, the top of the world which is called Tibet was covered by big sea, slowly immense pressure from the Indian ocean forced it upwards to the north beyond the Himalayan range,and became the Asian plateau of Tibet, Its average elevation is about four thousand meters above the sea level.
In the ancient time it was covered by vast grassland and ancient forest ,so many animals could live perfect life ,but there were no any human beings at that time . Then the Buddha of compassion Avalokitashivara gave the vow of a lay Buddhist practioner to a Monkey and sent it to do meditation in a cave of Tsetang Gopori Mountain in Yaarlong valley, when the Monkey was doing meditation ,an Ogress came to the cave and begged the Monkey to marry her, but the Monkey is very much faithful to Avalokitashivara and to his vow.
So he told her ” I am staying in the retreat as ordered by Buddha ,if I marry you .I will break my vow which i not do”. The Oggress was very sad and said “if you won’t marry me ,I will combine with demon and give birth to many demons and they will multiply to thousands ,Then the Snow land will be filled with demons ,so please have mercy on me”.
After hearing that, the compassionate Monkey thought ” I will lose my vow if I marry the Ogress ,but it will be sinful if Ido not marry her, then the Monkey had to go to Avalokitashivara for advice,Avalokitashivara thought a while and ansered that time was ripe to start human race on this land and also it would be a virtuous thing to do for the Monkey and asked him to marry the Ogress.
At first they gave to six Monkeys and each of them had different characters as they came from the six different realms with different Karma. So their descendents also have different characters these days . The father Monkey sent these six off springs to a forest and let them live their life independently.
Three years later, he went to visit them and saw that the monkeys had already increased to five hunderds ,he also realized the fruit was becoming less and less and would finished soon ,so he again went to request Avalokitashivara for help.
The Buddha said “you don’t need to worry about iy, take thses five different seeds and sprinkle them on the land “ so the Monkey did as told .
Since then they got enough food and their tail became shortr and shorter and as the same time they could exchange their mind by using language, it is the process of Monkey changing into man ,so Tibetan people beleive Monkeys are our anc3stors.
After experiencing very hard life for thousands of years, they learnt to hunt animals by using hand-made weapons like axe, knife and so on…..
Their life styles changed depending on living conditions and this divided them into nomads and farrners. As many tribes appeared ,there were more and more disagreement and even fighting . So they felt the need to appoint an honest man to lead all the people with better organization. Around 127 B.C . when some herds man were grazing their livestock on Mt Tsentang Goshi,they saw a young man who only pointed to the sky when they asked where he was from ,so they regarded him as a heavenly son and carrued him on their necks and made him their king.
He is the first King of Tibet called “Nyatri Tsenpo” meaning neck-throned king’ and the first palace Yubu Lhakang was built for him during the time of his reign. This was the beggining of Tsenpo’s period and there were forty two kings in Tibet with Langdarma as the last Tsenpo or King in the 9th century.
Buddhism was introduced during the reign of the twenty eight king Lha Tho thori Nyantsen .it is said that ,Buddhist scripture landed from the sky onto the roof –top of his palace .It was written in Sanskrit and Tibet didn’t have a written scropt at that time , So it remained a secret and called “Nyanpo sangwa” meaning the “melodious secret”.
Lha Tho thori Nyantsen received a prediction saying that the “melodious secret” will be translated into Tibetan common written script after five generations from him, It was time of Songtsen Gampo and many great events had taken place during his period. In the seventh century Songtsen Gampo unified Tibet and married with princess wengcheng from the Tang and Princess Brikute Deve from Nepal.
At the same time the two holy Buddha images were carried to Tibet as their dowry and Songtsen Gampo built Jokhang and Ramo che temple for housing the two Jowo; Ashokbiya and Shakyamuni.. The king knew the difficulties of not having a written script , so he sent his minister Tonmi Sambhota to India to learn Sanskrit and also for inventing the common script –Tibetan bases on Sanskrit.
After he return to Tibet , Sambhota translated many scriptures into Tibetan and spread it among the Tibetan people .
The Potala palace was also built for king Songtsen Gampo to do meditation. Tibetan people consider that he was an outstanding ruler and a manifestation of Avalokitashivara. So is also treated as one of the three great ancestors of Tibet.
The construction of temple and monasteries was supported by successive kings after Songtsen Gampo and among them king Trisong Detsen ,in the eight. century , played an important role to support Buddhism . He built Samye monastery known as the first monastery in Tibet with the support of abbot Shantarakshita and master padmasambhava from India.
In the day time people built the monastery and was destroyed by demons during the night time.So padmasambhava subdued the demons who created many obstacles for the construction of Samye monastery .Since then the land of snow became much more peaceful and Buddhism was also widely studied and practiced by the king ,ministers and the common people.
In the ninth century ,King Tri Relpa Chen ruled over Tibet and he had a strong faith in Buddhism and made new rules , he let each seven families offer food for one monk ,especially many great number of scriptures were translated . It was the most popular time of Buddhism and the number of monks increased greatly .
However , his older brother ,Langdarma and some other non- Buddhist ministers did not like the situation and so ,king Tri Relpa Chen was murdered .
But it is still an argument , some people say he was assassinated by Langdarma and some say that he was assassinated by others.
King Langdarma was known as anti-Buddhist king of Tibet as he destroyed many monasteries that was built before his time and burned all the scriptures that he found . Monks were forced to be hunter or butcher and some escaped to Amdo and Kham area . This was the time of Buddhism’s decline. But King Langdarma was killed by a Buddhist monk called Lhalung peldor because of his ruthless persecution of Buddhism.
The period of Tsenpo ended since then and Decentralization period started . This period began in 842 A.D , the year of Langdarma’s assassination , and ended in about 1260 A.D . During this period Tibetans had to live a very hard life as there was no longer a unified government and there were many fighting between different areas . But in terms of Buddha Dharma there was a big revival , translators and masters traveled to India in search of Dharma and they invited the famous Indian Buddhist master Athisha to Tibet who help them to modify and found a firm base of Buddhism again in Tibet .
Following that Drogong chogyalpaba became the royal master of the first Yuan Emperor Kublai khan. So he supported Chogyal paba to be the local leader of Tibet . This basically came to an end when the Pakmo Drupa took over the power from the Sakya ruler at the end of 15th century . The period of pakmodrupa andTsanpa king Between the 14th and 15th century pakmodrupa of kagyu school took over the power from the Sakyapa and ruled Tibet from Nedong of yarlong valley. It was a time of great development and in fact it was during this period that the founder of Gelukpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism .
The skill of printing scriptures was also invented during this period . From the later part of 15th century onward Tsangpa kings took over the power from the Pagdru and ruled Tibet until the end of the 16th century when the 15th Dalai Lama finally took over the ruling power from them.
After that the period of Gandan podrang’s Administration began in about 1642 A.D, the fifth Daila lamas until the 14th . Potala palace and Norbu Lingka were the winter and summer palace of Daila Lama.