Labrang Monastery is one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Its formal name is Genden Shédrup Dargyé Trashi Gyésu khyilwé Ling. Labrang is located in Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu, in the traditional Tibetan area of Amdo. Labrang Monastery is home to the largest number of monks outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. Xiahe is about four hours by car from the provincial capital Lanzhou. In the early part of the 20th century, Labrang was by far the largest and most influential monastery in Amdo, it is located on a tributary of the Yellow River. The monastery was founded in 1709 by the first Jamyang Zhépa, Ngawang Tsöndrü, it is Tibetan Buddhism's most important monastery town outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Labrang Monastery is situated at the strategic intersection of two major Asian cultures—Tibetan and Mongolian — and was one of the largest Buddhist monastic universities. In the early 20th century, it housed several thousand monks.
Labrang was a gathering point for numerous annual religious festivals and was the seat of a Tibetan power base that strove to maintain regional autonomy through the shifting alliances and bloody conflicts that took place between 1700 and 1950. In April 1985 the Assembly Hall burned down, it was replaced and the new building was consecrated in 1990. The monastery complex dominates the western part of the village; the white walls and gilded roofs feature a blend of Indian Vihara architectural styles. The monastery contains 18 halls, six institutes of learning, a gilded stupa, a sutra debate area, houses nearly 60,000 sutras. At its height the monastery housed 4,000 monks. Like so many religious institutions, it suffered during the Cultural Revolution. After it was reopened in 1980, many of the monks returned, it has a Buddhist museum with a large collection of Buddha statues and murals. In addition, a large amount of Tibetan language books, including books on history is available for purchase, together with medicines, calendars and art objects.
There used to be a great gold-painted statue of the Buddha, more than 50 feet high, surrounded by rows of surrounding Buddhas in niches. The monastery today is an important place for Buddhist activities. From January 4 to 17 and June 26, to July 15, the great Buddhist ceremony will be held with Buddha-unfolding, sutra enchanting, sutra debates, etc; the Hui Muslim Ma clique under Generals Ma Qi and Ma Bufang launched several attacks against Labrang as part of a general anti-Golok Tibetan campaign. Ma Qi occupied Labrang Monastery in 1917, the first time non-Tibetans had seized it. Ma Qi defeated the Tibetan forces with his Hui troops, his forces were praised by foreigners. After ethnic rioting between Hui and Tibetans emerged in 1918, Ma Qi defeated the Tibetans, he taxed the town for 8 years. In 1921, Ma Qi and his Muslim army decisively crushed the Tibetan monks of Labrang Monastery when they tried to oppose him. In 1925, a Tibetan rebellion broke out, with thousands of Tibetans driving out the Hui.
Ma Qi responded with 3000 Hui troops, who retook Labrang and machine-gunned thousands of Tibetan monks as they tried to flee. During a 1919 attack by Muslim forces, monks were executed by burning. Bodies were left strewn around Labrang by Hui troops. Ma Qi besieged Labrang numerous times. Tibetans fought against his Hui forces for control of Labrang until Ma Qi gave it up in 1927. However, not the last Labrang saw of General Ma. Ma Qi launched a genocidal war against the Goloks in 1928, inflicting a defeat upon them and seizing Labrang Monastery; the Hui forces ravaged the monastery again. The Austrian American explorer Joseph Rock encountered the aftermath of one of the Ma clique's campaigns against Labrang; the Ma army left Tibetan skeletons scattered over a wide area and Labrang Monastery was decorated with decapitated Tibetan heads. After the 1929 battle of Xiahe near Labrang, decapitated Tibetan heads were used as ornaments by Hui troops in their camp, 154 in total. Rock described "young children"'s heads staked around the military encampment.
Ten to fifteen heads were fastened to the saddle of every Muslim cavalryman. The heads were "strung about the walls of the Moslem garrison like a garland of flowers." In March 2008 there were protests by monks from Labrang Monastery as well as by other ethnic Tibetans linked to previous protests and rioting that broke out in Lhasa. Cabot, Mabel H.. Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China & Mongolia, 1921–1925, pp. 148–157. Aperture Publishers in association with the Peabody Museum, Harvard. ISBN 978-1-931788-18-2. Dorje, Gyurme. Footprint Tibet Handbook. Footprint Publications, England. ISBN 978-1-906098-32-2. Nietupski, Paul Kocot, Labrang: A Tibetan Monastery at the Crossroads of Four Civilizations. Snow Lion Publications, New York. ISBN 1-55939-090-5. Makley, Charlene E.. "Gendered Practices and the Inner Sanctum: The Reconstruction of Tibetan Sacred Space in "China's Tibet"." In: Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places in Tibetan Culture: A Collection of Essays, pp. 343–366. Edited by Toni Huber.
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, H. P. India. ISBN 81-86470-22-0. Tamm, Eric Enno. "The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds: A Tale of Espionage, the Silk Road and the Rise of Modern China," chapter 13. Va
Pabonka Hermitage written Pawangka, is a historical hermitage, today belonging to Sera Monastery, about 8 kilometres northwest of Lhasa in the Nyang bran Valley on the slopes of Mount Parasol in Tibet. Founded by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, it is the largest and most important of the Sera hermitages and is the starting point for the “Sixth-Month Fourth-Day” of the Sera Mountain Circumambulation Circuit pilgrimage; the site, over 1,300 years old, dates back to Songtsen Gampo, the founder of the Tibetan Empire, was amongst the first buildings built in the Lhasa area by him during the 7th century after settlement. Although the site of his castle or fort, the Tibetan Annals have revealed that Pabonka was converted into a monastery under the reign of the second great Buddhist king of Tibet Trisong Detsen. Detsen, along with Guru Rinpoche and the first seven monks of the new Tibetan Empire used to meditate at the hermitage and it became one of Tibet's earliest Buddhist monasteries even pre-dating Jokhang.
The original nine-storied monastery was destroyed by King Langdharma in 841 during his campaign to destroy monastic Buddhism. Je Tsongkhapa lived at the site as a hermit, it became a scholarly institution; the Fifth Dalai Lama was known to be fond of the monastery and funded the building of an upper floor for Pabonka. Before 1959, Pabonka was independent of Sera Monastery, from 1960 to the mid-1980s it was controlled by the Chinese, it came under the control of Sera, whose monks renovated it and are continuing its traditions. This temple is noted for its many shrines, its blue and carved gold mantra in the hallway, inscribed with words meaning, "Hail to the jewel in the lotus". A number of stone relics were buried during the Cultural Revolution but when Sera monks restored the hermitage they excavated the relics and restored most of them. A central shrine, dating back 1300 years to Gampo, is located in the temple and depicts Chenresig and Chana Dorje, the so-called "Rigsum Gompo Trinity" from which the temple takes its name.
The upper floor of the Pabonka Potrang building, perched on a pile of rocks, has a notable assembly hall on the second floor and contains a photograph of the current abbot and a chenresig statue hidden on the right behind a pillar. The interior chapel contains an ancient conch shell wrapped in a prayer scarf displayed in a glass case. In the adjacent room is a four-pillared Kashima Lhakhang with statues of three kings and their wives and various eminent lamas; the rooftop quarters, intended for the Dalai Lama on his visits, contains a statue of the deity Demchok and offers panoramic views of the hillside towards Lhasa. Up the hill from the hermitage, past a group of chortens, is Palden Lhamo Cave, a cave known to have been a meditation chamber of Songstan Gampo himself. Inside the cave are statues of Songtsen Gampo and his two wives, it has a rock carving of Palden Lhamo, the protectress. Located near 108 chortens, which are a prominent feature of the monastery, is the ochre yellow brick building of Jasa Potrang, dedicated to Songtsen Gampo's wife, Princess Wencheng.
On the upper floor of the building is a chapel with a small statue of her on the right and a depiction of Tibetan philologist Thonmi Sambhota, believed to have invented the Tibetan alphabet at the hermitage, recognised in the Valley of the Kings. Gampo's other wife, Bhrikuti, is called "honored". On the ground floor are the five manifestations of Tsongkhapa, various Buddha statues with medical themes; the hermitage notably has its own tradition of yearly ritual cycles. The most important of these yearly ritual events are the six-day Avalokiteśvara fasting rituals that take place during the Tibetan New Year celebrations, the sixteen-day Avalokiteśvara fasting rituals that take place during the fourth Tibetan month, a ritual and other events that take place during the “Sixth-Month Fourth-Day” pilgrimage. Gyurme Dorje.. Footprint Tibet Handbook with Bhutan. 2nd Edition. Footprint Handbooks Ltd. Bristol, England. ISBN 1-900949-33-4. In USA published by NTC/Contemporary Publishing. Chicago. ISBN 0-8442-2190-2.
Dowman, Keith.. The Power-places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide. Routledge & kegan Paul, London. ISBN 0-7102-1370-0 YouTube footage of Pabonka
Nāropā was an Indian Buddhist Mahasiddha. He was the disciple of Tilopa and brother; as an Indian Mahasiddha, Naropa's instructions inform Vajrayana his six yogas of Naropa relevant to the completion stage of anuttarayogatantra. Although some accounts relate that Naropa was the personal teacher of Marpa Lotsawa, other accounts suggest that Marpa held Naropa's lineage through intermediary disciples only. According to scholar John Newman, "the Tibetans give Nāro's name as Nā ro pa, Nā ro paṇ chen, Nā ro ta pa, so forth; the manuscript of the Paramarthasaṃgraha preserves a Sanskrit form Naḍapāda. A Sanskrit manuscript edited by Tucci preserves an apparent Prakrit form Nāropā, as well as a semi-Sanskritic Nāropadā." Naropa was a contemporary of Atiśa. Naropa was born in a high status Brahmin family of Bengal. From an early age showed an independent streak, hoping to follow a career of study and meditation. Succumbing to his parents' wishes, he agreed to an arranged marriage with a young Brahmin girl.
After 8 years they both agreed to become ordained. At the age of 28 Naropa entered the famous Buddhist University at Nalanda where he studied both Sutra and Tantra, he gained the reputation of a great scholar and faultless debater, essential at that time as the tradition of debate was such that the loser automatically became a student of the winner. He gained the title "Guardian of the Northern gate", engaged in many debates and taught and won many students. According to his Tibetan namtar, or spiritual biography, one day, while he was studying, a dakini appeared to Naropa and asked if he understood the words of the Dharma, Buddha's teachings, he replied that he did and when she seemed happy with his response, he added that he understood their meaning. At this point the dakini burst into tears, stating that he was a great scholar, but a liar, as the only one who understood the teachings was her brother, Tilopa. On hearing the name "Tilopa", he experienced an intense feeling of devotion, Naropa realised he needed to find the teacher to achieve full realisation.
He set out to find Tilopa. Naropa underwent what is known as the twelve minor hardships in his quest to find his teacher, all the hardships being hidden teachings on his path to enlightenment; when he met Tilopa, he was given the four complete transmission lineages which he began to practice. While studying and meditating with Tilopa, Naropa had to undergo a further twelve major hardships, trainings to overcome all the obstacles on his path, culminating in his full realisation of mahāmudrā. Naropa spent a total of twelve years with Tilopa. At the bank of river bagmati, in the premise of Hindu shrine Pashupatinath Temple, there is the cave where he was initiated by Tilopa and attained Siddhi. In his life Naropa stayed in Phullahari, where he died aged 85. Phullahari or Pullahari was located most in eastern Bihar or Bengal. One of the few reliable historical accounts of him comes from a Tibetan translator named Ngatso Lotsawa, who made an effort to visit Naropa at the monastery of Phullahari while waiting to visit with Atiśa at Vikramashila.
Because I went alone as an insignificant monk to see the Lord Atisha —— and because he tarried for a year in Magadha – I thought I would go see the Lord Naropa, since his reputation was so great. I went east from Magadha for a month, as I had heard that the Lord was staying in the monastery known as Phullahari. Great merit arose from being able to go see him. On the day I arrived, they said. So I went to the spot, a great throne had been erected. I sat right in front of it; the whole crowd started buzzing, "The Lord is coming!" I looked and the Lord was physically quite corpulent, with his white hair bright red, a vermilion turban on. He was being carried by four men, was chewing betel-leaf. I grabbed his feet and thought, "I should listen to his pronoucements!" Stronger and stronger people, pushed me further and further from his feet and I was tossed out of the crowd. So, there I saw the Lord's face, but did not hear his voice. Naropa is remembered for his trust and devotion to his teacher, according to his biography, enabled him to attain enlightenment in one lifetime.
He is remembered as part of the "Golden Garland", meaning he is a lineage holder of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and was considered an accomplished scholar. A great practitioner, Naropa is best known for having collated the Six Dharmas; these practices help achieve Buddhahood more rapidly. Many subsequent Karmapas have been adept at one or more of these practices, which in Vajrayana tradition are held to have been given by the Buddha and were passed on through an unbroken lineage via Tilopa to Naropa and Milarepa and on to the present day. Naropa is considered one of the ` saints' of Vajrayana. Naropa University in Colorado, USA was named in his honour. Six yogas of Naropa Tilopa Mahasiddha Marpa Kagyu The Life and Teaching of Naropa by Herbert V Gunther. Shambhala Publications 1999 Massachusetts. ISBN 1-56957-110-4 The Life of Marpa the Translator. Tsang Nyon Heruka Translated by the Nalanda Translation Committee. Shambhala Publications 1995 Boston. ISBN 1-57062-087-3 The Life Story of Naropa by Kenpo Chodrak Rinpoche.
Published in Kagyu Life International No's 3 & 4,1995 San Francisco. The Golden Kagyu Garland, A History of the Kagyu Lineage, adapted by Bruce Tarver. Published in Buddhism Today Is
'Drepung Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the "great three" Gelug university gompas of Tibet. The other two are Sera Monastery. Drepung is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries and is located on the Gambo Utse mountain, five kilometers from the western suburb of Lhasa. Freddie Spencer Chapman reported, after his 1936-37 trip to Tibet, that Drepung was at that time the largest monastery in the world, housed 7,700 monks, "but sometimes as many as 10,000 monks."Since the 1950s, Drepung Monastery, along with its peers Ganden and Sera, have lost much of their independence and spiritual credibility in the eyes of Tibetans since they operate under the close watch of the Chinese security services. All three were reestablished in exile in the 1950s in Karnataka state in south India. Drepung and Ganden are in Mundgod and Sera is in Bylakuppe. Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choge Tashi Palden, one of Tsongkhapa's main disciples, it was named after the sacred abode in South India of Shridhanyakataka.
Drepung was the principal seat of the Gelugpa school and it retained the premier place amongst the four great Gelugpa monasteries. The Ganden Phodrang in Drepung was the residence of the Dalai Lamas until the Great Fifth Dalai Lama constructed the Potala. Drepung was known for the high standards of its academic study, was called the Nalanda of Tibet, a reference to the great Buddhist monastic university of India. Old records show that there were two centres of power in Drepung: the so-called lower chamber associated with the Dalai Lamas-to-be, the upper chamber associated with the descendants of Sonam Drakpa, an illustrious teacher who died in 1554; the estate of the Dalai Lamas at Drepung Monastery, called Ganden Phodrang, had been constructed in 1518 by Gendun Gyatso Palzangpo, retrospectively named and counted as 2nd Dalai Lama. The name of the Tibetan government established by the 5th Dalai Lama came from the name of this estate. Penchen Sönam Drakpa in 1535 succeeded Gendün Gyatso on the Throne of Drepung, both of them being major figures in the history of the Geluk tradition.
By the time Sönam Drakpa was appointed to the Throne of Drepung, he was a famous Geluk master. He had occupied the Throne of Ganden and was considered the most prolific and important Geluk thinker of his time, his successor was none other than Sönam Gyatso, the lama who would receive the official title of the Third Dalai Lama. Before his death in 1554, Sönam Drakpa established his own estate, the Upper Chamber, named because of its location at the top of Drepung, just below the Ngakpa debating courtyard "Ngagpa Dratshang". Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center attributes the following Name variants to Penchen Sönam Drakpa: "bsod nams grags pa, paN chen bsod nams grags pa, khri 15 bsod nams grags pa, rtses thang paN chen bsod nams grags pa, gzims khang gong ma 01 bsod nams grags pa, this last one referring to the Seat of the Upper Chamber established in 1554. According to TBRC his successors referring to the estate of the Zimkhang Gongma were Sonam Yeshe Wangpo, Sonam Gelek Palzang and Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen - connected to the famous story of Dorje Shugden..
It seems to be accepted that Dragpa Gyaltsen was the fourth holder of the gzims khang gong ma incarnation line. According to Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center gzims khang gong ma 04 grags pa rgyal mtshan has been his "primaryTitle". Since the search for his reincarnation has been banned, he has been the last one. Chapman reported that in the late 1930s Drepung was divided into four colleges, each housing monks from a different locality: "one being favoured by Khampas, another by Mongolians, so on." Each college was presided over by an abbot, appointed by the late 13th Dalai Lama. Drepung is now divided into what are known as the seven great colleges: Gomang, Deyang, Gyelwa or Tosamling and Ngagpa, it can be a somewhat useful analogy to think of Drepung as a university along the lines of Oxford or the Sorbonne in the Middle Ages, the various colleges having different emphases, teaching lineages, or traditional geographical affiliations. According to local sources, today the population at the monastery in Lhasa is about 300 monks, due to population capping enforced by the Chinese government.
However, the institution has continued its tradition in exile with campuses in South India on land in Karnataka given to the Tibetan community in exile by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The monastery in India today houses over 5,000 celibate monks, with around 3,000 at Drepung Loseling and some 2,000 at Drepung Gomang. Hundreds of new monks are admitted many of them refugees from Tibet; the Ganden-Phodrang-Palace situated at Drepung Monastery was constructed by the 2nd Dalai Lama in 1518 and declared his chief residence/governmental palace until the inauguration of Potala Palace by the 5th Dalai Lama. About 40% of the old monastic town was destroyed after the Chinese arrived in Lhasa in 1951, though luckily the chief buildings including the four colleges, the Tsokchen and the Dalai Lamas' residence were preserved. Drepung monastery was shut down by Chinese authorities on 14 March 2008, after monk-led protests against C
Avalokiteśvara or Padmapani is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This bodhisattva is variably depicted and portrayed in different cultures as either male or female. In Tibet, he is known as Chenrezik, in Cambodia as "អវលោកិតេស្វរៈ". In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has evolved into the somewhat different female figure Guanyin. In Japan this figure is known as Kannon. In Nepal Mandal this figure is known as Jana Baha Dyah, Seto Machindranath; the name Avalokiteśvara combines the verbal prefix ava "down", lokita, a past participle of the verb lok "to notice, observe", here used in an active sense. In accordance with sandhi, a+īśvara becomes eśvara. Combined, the parts mean "lord who gazes down"; the word loka is absent from the name. It does appear in the Cambodian form of Lokesvarak; the earliest translation of the name into Chinese by authors such as Xuanzang was as Guānzìzài, not the form used in East Asian Buddhism today, Guanyin. It was thought that this was due to a lack of fluency, as Guanzizai indicates the original Sanskrit form was Avalokitasvara, "who looks down upon sound".
It is now understood, the original form, is the origin of Guanyin "Perceiving sound, cries". This translation was favored by the tendency of some Chinese translators, notably Kumārajīva, to use the variant 觀世音 Guānshìyīn "who perceives the world's lamentations"—wherein lok was read as meaning both "to look" and "world"; the original form Avalokitasvara appears in Sanskrit fragments of the fifth century. This earlier Sanskrit name was supplanted by the form containing the ending -īśvara "lord"; the original meaning of the name fits the Buddhist understanding of the role of a bodhisattva. The reinterpretation presenting him as an īśvara shows a strong influence of Hinduism, as the term īśvara was connected to the Hindu notion of Vishnu or Śiva as the Supreme Lord and Ruler of the world; some attributes of such a god were transmitted to the bodhisattva, but the mainstream of those who venerated Avalokiteśvara upheld the Buddhist rejection of the doctrine of any creator god. In Sanskrit, Avalokiteśvara is referred to as Padmapāni or Lokeśvara.
In Tibetan, Avalokiteśvara is Chenrézik, is said to emanate as the Dalai Lama the Karmapa and other high lamas. An etymology of the Tibetan name Chenrézik is spyan "eye", ras "continuity" and gzig "to look"; this gives the meaning of one. According to the Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra, the sun and moon are said to be born from Avalokiteśvara's eyes, Shiva from his brow, Brahma from his shoulders, Narayana from his heart, Sarasvati from his teeth, the winds from his mouth, the earth from his feet, the sky from his stomach. In this text and others, such as the Longer Sukhavativyuha Sutra, Avalokiteśvara is an attendant of Amitabha; some texts which mention Avalokiteśvara include: The Lotus Sutra is accepted to be the earliest literature teaching about the doctrines of Avalokiteśvara. These are found in the Lotus Sutra chapter 25; this chapter is devoted to Avalokiteśvara, describing him as a compassionate bodhisattva who hears the cries of sentient beings, who works tirelessly to help those who call upon his name.
A total of 33 different manifestations of Avalokiteśvara are described, including female manifestations, all to suit the minds of various beings. The chapter consists of a verse section; this earliest source circulates separately as its own sutra, called the Avalokiteśvara Sūtra, is recited or chanted at Buddhist temples in East Asia. When the Chinese monk Faxian traveled to Mathura in India around 400 CE, he wrote about monks presenting offerings to Avalokiteśvara; when Xuanzang traveled to India in the 7th century, he provided eyewitness accounts of Avalokiteśvara statues being venerated by devotees from all walks of life: kings, to monks, to laypeople. In Chinese Buddhism and East Asia, Tangmi practices for the 18-armed form of Avalokiteśvara called Cundī are popular; these practices have their basis in the early Indian Vajrayana: her origins lie with a yakshini cult in Bengal and Orissa, her name in Sanskrit "connotes a prostitute or other woman of low caste but denotes a prominent local ogress... whose divinised form becomes the subject of an important Buddhist cult starting in the eighth century".
The popularity of Cundī is attested by the three extant translations of the Cundī Dhāraṇī Sūtra from Sanskrit to Chinese, made from the end of the seventh century to the beginning of the eighth century. In late imperial China, these early esoteric traditions still thrived in Buddhist communities. Robert Gimello has observed that in these communities, the esoteric practices of Cundī were popular among both the populace and the elite. In the Tiantai school, six forms of Avalokiteśvara are defined; each of the bodhisattva's six qualities are said to break the hindrances of the six realms of existence: hell-beings, animals, humans and devas. Veneration of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva has continued to the present day in Sri Lanka: In times past both Tantrayana and Mahayana have been found in some of the