Tibetan Buddhism
   2013-07-10 13:02:42    tibet.cn      Web Editor: Guo Jing

Monks ask questions at the ceremony of defending dissertations for Gexe Lharampa, the highest academic degree in Tibetan Buddhism studies, at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, April 5, 2013. Eight laureates of Gexe Lharampa were awarded here on Friday after they passed tests and defended their dissertations. Gexe means knowledgeable and Lharampa is the highest among the four ranks in the Gexe system. [Photo: Xinhua/Chogo]

Buddhism had established a following in Tibet, as in other countries, due to its spread from India. It received a boost when it was actively promoted in the 7th century during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo (?- 649 or 650 AD), who was married to a Nepalese Princess as well as a Chinese Princess, both of whom were Buddhists. As part of their dowries, they brought many Buddhist scriptures and statues to the court.

As a consequence, Buddhism began to infiltrate Tibetan culture and to displace the indigenous Bon religion. However, during Landama's (or Lang Darma) reign, Buddhism was banned and went into decline.

The distinct form of Tibetan Buddhism also called (incorrectly) Lamaism developed during the 10th century and it became firmly established from this time onwards. Tibetan Buddhism has its particular form as it absorbed aspects of the Bon religion as it gradually established its dominance. Tibetan Buddhism also spread into neighboring provinces and countries. As the years passed a number of different sects evolved and which were to develop political as well as religious influence.

Tibetan Buddhism is based on Madhyamika and Yogacara and belongs to the Mahayana school. It also utilizes the symbolic ritual practices of Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana) while incorporating features of the indigenous Tibetan Bon religion, that had continued its opposition to the new faith. The influence of Tantric doctrines and Bon make much more mystical than other forms of Buddhism. There is a strong reliance on mudras (ritual postures), mantras (sacred speech), yantras (sacred art) and secret initiation rites.

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