The Culture of Sky Road -- Exhibition of Tibetan History and Culture
February 27, 2018 - July 22, 2018 Time: 9:00—17:00 (closed on Mondays) Venue: Room B, F1


Part Three: Buddhism in a Snow-covered Land

Many people have long yearned to come to Tibet, eager to get far away from the maddening crowd and to seek a pure land with a pure heart. The snow-covered plateau is home not only to magnificent natural landscapes, but also to majestic temples that draw pious believers. People want to know how Buddhism became the faith of the Zang nationality, why there are different styles of religious art and how Buddhism spread in Tibet.

1. The Tubo Empire and the Early Spread of Buddhism  

After taking office, Songtsen Gampo established the Tubo Empire by unifying the tribes and appointing scholars like Thon-mi Saṃbhoṭa to study in India and create Tibetan Buddhism. He also built a new regime to do away with the national conditions influenced by the ancient Bon religion, and to introduce Indian Buddhism to the inland. Buddhism was enacted by law, with Bon continuing to compete for supremacy. In fact, under the guise of religious conflicts, the ongoing competition between old and new political powers was established.   

2. The Fall of the Tubo Empire and Revival of Buddhism

As Bon traditions were being suppressed, Buddhism, promoted by the upper classes in the Tubo Empire, met with protests by the old guard and led to a lack of belief among the masses. In 842, the assassination of Gland-dar-ma, who had promoted persecution of Buddhism, led to the demise of the Tubo Empire. Buddhism survived from the collapse of the Tubo Empire and ensuing wars, and through integration with Bon traditions and ethnic culture, it became not only accepted but the national religion in this snow-covered land. 

The royal descendants of the Tubo Empire escaped to Ngari Prefecture and established the Guge Kingdom. In 1041, the king invited the Indian monk Atisa to come and promote Buddhism. Along with the permeation of Buddhist traditions that had been preserved in Qinghai Province, Buddhism began to revive in Tibet.  

3. The Development of Tibetan Buddhism

Buddhism spread in Tibet again after the collapse of the Tubo Empire. There appeared various religious sects in each region, which led Buddhism to become increasingly diversified in form. Ultimately, Tibetan Buddhism took shape as the result of long-term nationalization and localization. The development of Tibetan Buddhism as a crystallization of the wisdom of the Tibetan people was undeniably bound to the link between Tibet and the surrounding areas and mainland.  

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