is a beautiful picturesque Himalayan country that lies
sandwiched between China and India. Lhasa is the capitol
of this mountain country. Tibetans followed the ancient
religion of Bon that was later taken over by Chinese and
Buddhism became the religion of Tibet. Still there is a
sect of people who follow Bon but they are in minority.
When Tibet was conquered by China Bon was put aside and
Buddhism took over as the official religion of Tibet.
history of Tibet has it that when King Songtsen Gampo
married both Nepalese princess as well as a Chinese
princess they brought Buddhism to Tibet. As part of
their dowries, they brought many Buddhist scriptures and
statues to the court. That is when Buddhism began to take
root in Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism has a distinct form of
its own as it has absorbed aspects of Bon religion as
well. Tibetan Buddhism also spread into neighboring
provinces and countries. As the years passed a number of
different sects evolved, which later developed into
political as well as religious influence.
Dalai Lama, who is presently in exile at Dharmshala in
India had to flee the country due to Chinese oppression.
Tibetan Buddhism belongs to the Mahayana school
of Buddhism. They are divided into five sects namely
Budhism has strong influences from neighboring religions
like Hinduism. The meditation and prayers are done on a
regular basis in silence and they rely on
mudras (ritual postures), mantras (sacred speech),
yantras (sacred art) and secret initiation rites. A Lama
is initiated at a very young age and joins the
monastery. His head is shaven and he is given a red
cloth to drape around himself. With simple wooden
footwear the Lamas walk in the cold mountainous terrains
in search of enlightenment. It is believed that
asceticism and obedience are the only source of
enlightenment. Once you follow that path you can reach
family had to send at least one child to the monastery.
This is where the child gets educated and initiated into
monastic life. Even girls as young as seven years old
were initiated into monastic lives. Life at the
monastery is rigorous. Religious study and services are
the main theme taught at the monastery. The study
consists of Tibetan tantras, mantras, sutras, astrology,
Tibetan medicine and other Buddhist theologies. These
studies go on for 18years at the monastery. A ‘Geshe
Lharampa’ Degree, which represents the highest degree
in Tibetan Buddhism theology, will be conferred on those
who not only pass the examination but also win. Only a
few monks are able to qualify for this highest degree. A
monk’s life is similar to the life of a nun in a
Christian missionary. It is believed that the regimental
life and rigidity prepares them to attain enlightenment
and realize Buddha.
beings are prominent in Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhas and
bodhisattvas abound, gods and spirits taken from earlier
Tibetan religions like Bon continue to be taken
seriously. Bodhisattvas are portrayed as both benevolent
godlike figures and wrathful deities.
metaphysical context has allowed Tibetan Buddhism to
develop a strong artistic tradition, and paintings and
other graphics are used as aids to understanding at all
levels of society. Both the Lamas as well as the lay man
follow rituals traditionally in Tibet. The layman relies
on the Lamas to conduct the rituals for good as well as
to Hinduism the Tibetan Buddhists also chant mantras
with “OM”. “Om mani padhme hum”, is a commonly
chanted mantra among Tibetans. ‘Om’, symbolizes
one's impure body, speech and mind, and Buddhism
believes that even an impure body and mind can be
transformed into purity to realize Buddha. ‘Mani’ is
the jewel that symbolizes compassion, love, forgiveness
and the wish to attain enlightenment, ‘Padhme’ means
lotus flower which symbolizes purity and is associated
with the Gods and ‘hum’ means us that is all of us
should attain all the jewels to become rich. Just as a
jewel can adorn and make a lay man rich, the knowledge
of ‘Om’ will make the chanting person an enriched
Tibetan prayers include prayer wheels that are
cylindrical in nature. The inscription of “Om mani
padhme hum” is inscribed on it and there are small
bells attached to it that help in making sounds when it
‘chorten’ or a stupa is a tower like structure,
which is an important monument of Tibetan religion. It
is believed that Buddha physically resides inside it. It
consists of three tiers. The base has a whitewashed
structure and a whitewashed cylinder in the middle and a
crowning steeple or shaft at the top. The Tibetans
circle the stupa in the belief it can fetch them good
health, wealth and fortune. The four ends of the stupa
at the top are tapered upward signifying that the Lord
above should shower us with his blessings as well as it
is symbolic of the four directions east, west, north and
south. Sun, moon, fire and water are worshipped all over
of the auspicious signs and symbols that are seen in
Tibet denote the eight fold path of Buddhism.
white umbrella, which denotes purity and is akin to
Virgin Mary. This also shows loyalty.
fish- this is happiness, rid of all miseries and
giver of nectar that can give immortality.
– the flower of purity and spiritual enlightenment.
shell- that spreads the teachings.
of eternity – this unites everyone and binds them
standard – this shows the victory of Buddhism over
ignorance and death
wheel- symbolizes time and how it keeps moving. It also
reminds people of Sakhya Muni’s preachings.
– This is commonly used on walls and house doors. This
symbols good fortune.
and Moon- This is seen in all villages in Tibet as it
symbolizes the giver of light and the attraction of
Chakra seal – This can be seen adorning the walls of
monasteries. This symbolizes the highest initiations
into occult knowledge that can be possessed only by a