Tibetan Buddhism

The Tibetan Buddhism that spread to Tibet around the 7th century has its foundation in Buddhism. This practice combines three major schools of Buddhism: Hinayana, Mahayana and vajrayāna.

Buddhism originated in northern India under the influence of the teachings of Prince Siddharta Gautama, who later became known as the historical Sakyamuni Buddha. Grouping his followers into a monastic group associated with the Brahmanic tradition, Siddharta Gautama rejected certain points of Hindu philosophy of the time such as the conformity of certain Vedic scriptures, the resulting sacrificial cults, and the spiritual level of a person who was attached to a caste by birth.


The integration of Buddhism in Tibet

Buddhism was incorporated into Tibet in the 7th century along with writing. Since then, the country has undergone an extraordinary development, which has marked the history of the country. Tibet had already been in contact with the Indians for ages for commercial reasons. At that time, the home of the sādhu Indians as well as the pilgrimages of the Hindus took place at the sacred mountain Kailash.

The latter was camped in the north of the Himalayas, in a land annexed by the Tibetans. In this way, the Tibetans were able to get to know Buddhism. However, Buddhism was officially integrated into Tibet thanks to the support of the kings. As for the process of conversion, it unfolded over several centuries, accompanied by religious and political rivalries. It was only in the 11th century that Buddhism really found its place in Tibet.


The initiator of Buddhism in Tibet

Around 609 to 613-650, Songtsen Gampo was the initiator of the Buddhist religion in Tibet. At the beginning of his reign, he had fought against the Buddhist kingdoms and instead favored Bön Tibetan shamanism. He supported the development of his empire as well as the fusion of Tibet. At the same time, he managed to conquer India, Nepal and planned to attack the borders of China.

In order to temper him, the Chinese emperor granted him one of his daughters, Princess Wencheng when he was already married to the Nepalese princess Bhrikuti. Thanks to these unions, he was seduced by Chinese and Nepalese Buddhism. He then undertook the construction of the temples of Ramoche and Jokhang. Note that Thonmi Sambhota, one of his ministers was at the origin of the translation of Indian Buddhist texts.


The lineages that appeared during the expansion of Buddhism in Tibet

During the expansion of Tibetan Buddhism, many lineages appeared:

• Nyingmapa
• Kagyupa (Changpa Kagyu,Drikung Kagyu)
• Sakyapa
• Gelugpa (Kadampa)
• Chi-djé
• Djor-drouk
• Dorje soum gyi nyèndroup
• Jonangpa

It should be noted that the last four lineages and their precepts have been assimilated to the first four. Also, contemporary Tibetan Buddhism is divided into only four major lineages, known as "schools" or "sects".





The conduct of cults and rituals in Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism finds its foundation in many rituals and objects of worship. Indeed, they grant a dominating place to movement and sound during religious ceremonies. Materializing the diamond and the lightning, the vajra also called dorje symbolizes the indestructibility coming to overcome any adversity.

In particular, it reduces ignorance to make way for wisdom. During Tibetan rituals, the vajra is often combined with the ghanta bell or drilbou. They symbolize male and female principles in a very distinct way. The tantric manifestations of Tibetan Buddhism give it an esoteric character. They particularly aim at making easier for the practitioner the assimilation of the abstract notions of tantrism and by ricochet, to encourage meditation.


Tantrism: what is it?

Tibetan Buddhism, often referred to as Tantric Buddhism, emphasizes that the words of the Buddha are also included in the tantras. These are the ancient esoteric Hindu texts. Tantrism refers to a branch combining a set of processes aimed at concentrating the practitioner's energy to enable him/her to reach the path to enlightenment more quickly.

The followers of Tantrism maintain that certain techniques would provide supernatural powers to those who could control them. Many people wonder about the many forms of magic in Tibetan Buddhism. According to Alexandra David Neel, the great French scholar of the 20th century, the religion of the Tibetans is based on magic.


The Role of Monks and Lamas in Titanic Buddhism

The translation of Tantric texts cannot be understood without the assistance of a great religious master, namely the lama. Indeed, the latter is put on a pedestal in the Tibetan community. Note that the lama is not obligatory monk. Because of this fact, he can even marry. To make progress in the practice of tantrism, the faithful should have the assistance of a lama who will be able to initiate and direct him during his apprenticeship.

Indeed, he will be able to support him, as well, at the level of the deepening of his knowledge or in the control of the Tantric processes. The knowledge of monks and lamas, who spend fifteen to twenty years deepening the philosophy and sacred texts in the great monastic schools, differs without a doubt from the Buddhist meditation of other religions.


Red caps and yellow caps: what do they mean?

To differentiate themselves from the bongo priests and also to establish the Nyingmapa order, the great master of Tibetan Buddhism, the Lineage of Elders, and his monks dressed in a robe with red headgear. To overcome the dominance of the good religion, other organizations emerged in the following centuries.

The Sakyapas, Kagyupas and Karmapas, were henceforth referred to as "Red Caps". These orders fought to spread their influence over Tibet. All strata of Tibetan society had become imbued with the Buddhist religion. Very quickly, the precept criss-crossed the borders of Tibet to extend into the high Himalayas, northern India, northern Nepal and Bhutan.