Skip to main content

Religion in Tibet


Tibetans have a strong belief that religion is necessary for social cohesion. According to their philosophy, mutual rituals and beliefs help them to achieve social solidarity. They use religious teachings and norms to attain conformity and hold in society.
If you are planning to visit Tibet, you must know about the existing religion there and their beliefs. Like their culture, Tibetans have deep-rooted religions and every religion comes with some distinctive characteristics.
The main religions in Tibet are; Tibet Buddhism, Bon, Chinese ethnic religion and folk religion sect. Let us explore each religion.
Buddhism
Also widespread in the Himalayas and central Asia, the main religion in Tibet is Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism is, however, another extension of Buddhist doctrine. According to the International Religious Freedom Report of 2012, 91% of the Tibet population is confined to Buddhism. So, we can say that it is highly practiced religion at present which is growing rapidly.
Buddhism outspread in Tibet is from 8th century AD, and now it has the strongest roots in Tibet. Buddhism is mostly practiced in historical regions of Tibet including the areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans.  Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Qinghai, and Sichuan are some of the areas Buddhist believers live.
Buddhism is extended outside of Tibet as well. As the Mongol power owned by Yuan Dynasty continued, the rule of Tibetan Buddhism was also extended. However, history shows that Tibet is not the first religion practiced in Tibet. Before Buddhism, Tibetan people practiced Shamanic and Animistic religion.
Tibetan Buddhism Traditions
Tibetan Buddhism owns four major traditions which are;
Nyingma-The Ancient  
Nyingma is one of the oldest and largest traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. The literal meaning of Nyingma is ‘ancient’ or ‘old school’. The history relates this name to the first translation of Buddhist scriptures. These translations were done from Sanskrit to old Tibetan. The whole process took place in the 8th century when unique alphabets and grammar were designed for thorough understanding.
Kagyu- Oral Lineage
Also known as Kagyu, another famous tradition of Buddhism is Kagyu. The main teachings of Kagyu are the doctrine of Mahamudra. In the present era, Kagyu is considered as a sixth main school of Tibetan Buddhism. This tradition gave birth to different sub-schools as well.
Sakya- Grey Earth
The literal meaning of Sakya is ‘grey earth’. Founded by Khon Konchog, Sakya is another tradition practiced by Buddhist believers living in Tibet. The tradition is the holder of all Buddha teachings and has following sub-schools. The school mainly belongs to scholarships and is widely practiced in Tibet since ages.
Gelug-Way of Virtue
The Gelug is the latest addition to the traditions of Buddhism being practiced in Tibet. The founder of Gelug is Je Tsongkhapa. He was not only a philosopher but a religious leader as well. The name ‘Gelug’ is derived from the first monastery, Ganden, formed by Je Tsongkhapa. Since the end of the 16th century, Gelug is widely spread in Tibet and Mongolia. Earlier people used to call it Galuk but with the passage of time, it got modified as Gelug.
Bon- Worship of Nature
Bon is considered an indigenous religion being practiced In Tibet. According to an estimate done by International Religious Freedom, about 12.5% of people in Tibet are practicing Bon. If you go through different aspects of Bon as a religion, you will come to know that it is deeply related to magic, demonic forces and believes in worshiping nature. This religion also includes the practices of blood sacrifices. Although it received much criticism, now it is recognized and legitimate religion in Tibet.
Nine Vehicles of Bon Teachings
Bon has a distinct doctrine and literature. The teachings and terminologies of bon are quite similar to that of Buddhism but still, it is distinguished as a separate religion. It’s teaching feature nine major vehicles as;
· Highest vehicle- Great perfection of Sutra and Tantra with Dzogchen
· Lower vehicle- includes medicine astrology and divination
· Pathway teaching categories- which are with unique characteristics, beliefs, practices, and outcomes.
Chinese Ethnic Religion
Many Han Chinese have occupied Tibet. They are stick to their native Chinese folk religion. They have constructed many temples to practice their religion well in Tibet. The temple is designed by architectures from China and Tibet as well. There is a grand and significant temple named as Guandi Temple of Lhasa. It is considered a holy place where the Chinese God of War is identified.
 Folk Religion Sect
Tibetan folk religious sect in Amdo County was originally discovered in 1981. The Amdo County is now dominated by mostly Tibetan grasslands. The founder of folk religion sect is Sonam Phuntsog who was the incarnation of the legendary hero Gesar. His movement was at a peak in the 1980s and it was the time when this movement attracted a large number of people. However, the movement was banned considering it as Splittist Sect

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Plan A Tibet Tour

Are you expecting a journey to Tibet? Do you know how to plan a wonderful Tibet tour? After searching a great number of documents online, here I’d like to share a complete Tibet tour guide for you.

From the ancient time to the resent, Tibet is a hot tourist destination for travelers from home and abroad. Abounding with rich natural resources and majestic scenic spots, Tibet enjoys a high reputation in the world. Every year, a large number of international tourists head to Tibet for the purpose of exploring the mysterious Tibetan Buddhism, splendid snow-capped mountains, crystal-like lakes, and splendid temples and monasteries. There are some tips about Tibetan culture and tour, which may help you arrange an unforgettable trip in Tibet.

Some Major Festivals in Tibet

Tibetan New Year is the most vital festival in Tibet. The date of Tibetan New Year is stipulated based on traditional Tibetan lunar calendar. During this festival, Tibetans will visit friends and relatives and enjoy some de…

Lhasa Tour Proposals

Boated as the purest place in the world, Tibet has become an ultimate tourist destination for travelers who are interested in mysterious Tibetan Buddhism, crystal-like lakes, and snow-capped mountains. Lhasa is the center of Tibet which is the primary place for travelers who want to have a Tibet tour. Here, I’d like to share some proposals about Tibet tour with you.

Basic Information about Lhasa

Located in the south of Tibet, Lhasa is the center of Tibet with an area of 30,000 square kilometers. There are about 400,000 Tibetans living in this city. And the Galsang flower is regarded as the city flower. Lhasa is divided into two municipal districts including Chengguan, Tuilong Deqing, and six counties including Linzhou, Dangxiong, Nimu, Qushui, Dazi, Mozhu Gongka.

Lhasa Climate

Generally speaking, the climate in Lhasa is better than other places in Lhasa, especially in winter. The temperature is high in the daytime, even it is warmer than other places in the north of China. However, it …

Tibetan Festival Tour

As one of the members of Chinese big family, Tibet is a special region located in the west of this boundless area. Owing to the unique Tibetan culture and customs, the festivals in Tibet have their own characteristics which attract a great number of travelers in the world. Traveling to Tibet during the grand Tibetan festivals is the best way to learn about Tibetans and Tibetan history. With many years’ history of Buddhism, lots of traditional festivals in Tibet have a close relationship with Tibetan Buddhism. Today, let me guide you to have a wonderful Tibetan festival tour.

Tibetan New Year

As the most important festival in Tibet, Tibetan New Year is always held in the first month of Tibetan lunar calendar. The grand festival will last for a whole month. In the first day, all the Tibetans will head to Tibetan monasteries and temples to do pray for the purpose of seeking blessings from the Buddha. What Tibetan New Year is to Tibetans is what Christmas is to westerns. During this perio…