Religion of Tibet

Religion of Tibet

Product ID: 32263

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Author: Charles Bell
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass
Year: 2000
Language: English
Pages: 235
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8120810503


This volume forms a sequel to the author’s Tibet : past and Present and the people of Tibet. Like them, it is in part an historical account, in part a description of conditions in the earlier part of the twentieth century.

Sir Charles Bell traces the History of the introduction of Buddhism, of the resistance and general decay of the older magic-worship of Ponism, and of the developments which have taken place within Tibetan Buddhism itself.

The latter part of the Book deals more particularly with the Religious organization, with life in the great monasteries and with the religious customs and beliefs of the people. The illustrations are from the author's own photographs taken in Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan.



1. A Hidden Land :
An inaccessible Country with a Cold climate has kept others out-Homogeneous-A race of nomads-Has not progressed in Material civilization-Turns to religion-And to trade and brigandage-Instinct for orderliness-But Religion the strongest force-Living beliefs.

2. The Old Faith :
The Nature of Pon, the old faith-Shamanism-Magical tambourines-Human sacrifices-Inferences from Mongolia-and from other Nations forming part of the Mongolian branch of the human race-And from Tibetan Buddhism itself, strongly impregnated with Pon-Tantrik practices-Nature, and the Worship of Nature, in Tibet-No monks, no nuns, no temples-Lepchas, Limbus, Lolos, Mosos-Ponist kings in Tibet-Strongholds of Pon-The Ke-sar epic of pre-Buddhist days-Hor and Ling-Popularity of this epic-Recited by shepherds and others-A woman recites it-Ke-sar wins the princess-A savage Song and savage treatment-The three divisions of the epic-Nationality of Ke-sar-Buddhism causes changes in Pon-Black Pon and White Pon-Death for harmful sorcerers-Visit to a Ponist monastery-Influence of Pon on Tibetan Buddhism-Religions compromise with their predecessors-Awe inspired by Lepcha gods-Demonolatry in Sikkim-the Sikkim gods.

3. Gotama, The Buddha :
House and parentage-was the Buddha an Indian?-Early strivings for the Truth-Gains Enlightenment-The Bodhi Tree-The first sermon-The Noble Eightfold Path-The Four Noble Truths-A religion of conduct-Intellectual, not emotional-Karma-The Chain of Causation-Desire as to the form of one's rebirth-Arhat, Nirvana-Not definable-Buddhism not pessimistic or selfish-Position of women in Buddhism- Daily life of the Buddha-Tolerance-Arouses no violent opposition-Reasons why Buddhism has endured-The Buddha did not teach interference in politics-Did not recognize Prayer or sacrifice-'The abominable Doctrine of the forgiveness of sins'-The social virtues prescribed to laymen-Buddhism in India.

4. Buddhism Comes to Tibet :
Changes in Buddhism-Great Vehicle and Little Vehicle (Mahayana and Hinayana)-Bodhisattvas-Buddhas and deities-Worship of the Sacred Books-Spells-Metaphysical discussions-Nagarjuna-Abstract of Teaching in the Great Vehicle-Differs greatly from the Buddha's teaching-Buddhism declines within India but remains strong in the north-west-Nalanda and Vikramashila-Hindu influence on Buddhism-Tantrism-Nirvana and Sexual union-This later Buddhism comes from India to Tibet-King To-to-ri-King 'Straight-Strong-Deep'-King Ti-song De-Tsen-Teaching from China and from Ladakh-Shanti Rakshita-Tibetans rebel against the new teaching-Padma Sambhava, the Indian Tantrik teacher, comes-Why Indian, rather than Chinese, Teachers preferred-Padma Sambhava subdues evil Spirits and founds Sam-ye Monastery-Teaching from the Little Vehicle introduced-The first monks-His two wives-The lotus, an exotic emblem-Opposition of Pon and banishment of Padma Sambhava-But Buddhism progresses under other teachers-Disputes between Indian and Chinese schools- Kamala Shila-Chinese expelled-Madhyamika doctrine prescribed- Kamala Shila killed-His mummy-Lang Dar-ma, succeeding to the throne, is superseded-Ral-pa-chan-Promotes Buddhism-Organizes the clergy-Foreign conquest-Records from the Tarim Basin-Murdered by Ponist ministers-Dar-ma is again made king-Foreign teachers- Tibetan translators-The Buddhist Bible-The Commentaries-Accuracy of the translations-Their great value at the present day.

5. Expulsion and Return :
Both the Great and the Little Vehicle represented in Tibetan Buddhism- Sarvastivadins-Tantrism-Lang Darma's repressive measures-Lang-Dar-ma killed-Shaktism-Suppression of Buddhism for seventy years- Revival begins in Am-do-Translation work resumed-A stranded pandit-Indian Love of religion-The Great Kashmiri Pandit-A prince held to ransom-Searching the sacred books-Tibetan conquests in Turkistan and China-But Buddhism puts an end to their Military prowess-Pandits from Bengal, Nepal, and Kashmir-Atisha-Comes to Tibet as an old man-Meets and reproves Good Gem-Questioned regarding his accomplishments-Gives secret initiation-Writes Religious commentary-Initiates with Tantrik rites, but restrainedly-Careful of his own reputation-Drom-ton becomes his intimate disciple-Great spread of Buddhism in Tibet-Atisha visits Lhasa and Sam-ye-Welcomed by Chen-re-zi in the form of a white man-Helps in translation of sacred books-Lives in 'The Rock of Purity'-My visit to his monastery-Atisha's Death and tomb- His successor and the new sect.

6. Buddhism becomes the National Religion :
Monastic strongholds-Re-ting Monastery-Drom-ton-Po-to-wa-Meeting of all the learned Lamas-Widespread zeal-Indian Buddhists come to Tibet for instruction-Mar-pa-A quarrelsome genius-Stays three years in Nepal-Learns Tantras in India-Sets up as a Tantrist in Tibet and takes fees-Visits India again-Inaugurates the Ka-gyu sect-Visits India for the third time-A riddle to his neighbours-Though appearing worldly, drunk, and avaricious, still a Bodhisattva-Teaching or asceticism-Ngok, the Translator-'Cotton Clad Mi-la'-Sa-kya-Growth of priestly power-Sa-kya Hierarchs invited to Court of Mongol Emperors-Asked to introduce religion and Writing among the Mongols-Mongol invasions into Tibet-Dri-kung and Ta-lung-Pandits from Kashmir and Swat-Internecine struggles-Tibetans become highly learned-Tantrism and Shaktism-How monastic Libraries were formed-Painstaking revisions-Si-tu or Pak-mo-tru-Compromise between Buddhism and Pon-Conflict between a Buddhist and Ponist priest- And between a Buddhist priest and a Hindu yogi-Ponist converted through actions in his former life-Buddhists Study Ponist faith-Most translations influenced by the old faith-Lines on which Buddhism developed in Tibet-Scope of the Tibetan histories of religion-Rim-po-che Kar-ma-pa-Visits China-'The Playful Thunderbolt-'Magical Void-contemplating Lion'-Married saints-Shooting and Fishing forbidden-High standard of Tibetan learning, martial decline Mongol invasions-Fighting monks-'Shambala of the North'-Early Tibetan allusion to European warfare-Religious connexion between Tibet and Nepal-Tibet's strong national Church-Her administrative ability-Buddhas and priests, Gods and demons, all one organization-The fighting spirit in religion.

7. Cotton-Clad Mi-La :
Mi-la's wide appeal-His date-His Biography and Songs; their value in religion, history, and literature-Da-wa Sam-trup-Mi-la's early life- Defrauded by uncle and aunt-Learns sorcery-Thus kills most of his enemies and destroys their crops-Repentance-Comes to Mar-pa-Long and hard penance-Drunkenness of a living Buddha-Mar-pa's Wife lightens Mi-la's hardships-His sore back treated like a donkey's-Twofold object of hardships-Initiation-Consecrated wine in a human skull-Religious training-Goes to his home-Uses his mother's bones as a pillow-Asceticism-Lives on nettles-Hymn of perseverance-Internal warmth-Hunters-Declines to rob the maggots-Takes good food and wine-Progress in meditation-Miraculous powers-Avoids popularity- Seeks solitude near Mount Everest-Takes Karma as the root of his religion-Voidness-Total abnegation of self-The familiar Spirit of Evil-Prays for a solitary death-A sermon on prudishness-Pe-ta's partial conversion-Wicked aunt's repentance-Mi-la was Tantrik and occult- Condemns Ka-dam-pa teachings-Praises the Mystic Doctrine-Instruction to his disciples-Tibetan Buddhists and Christian Gnostics compared-His nirvana-Mi-la's place in history.

8. The Yellow Hats :
Tsonga-ka-pa-His wide studies-Reforms Tibetan Buddhism-'The Virtuous Way'-'The Great Prayer'-Esoteric doctrines-Invitation to China declined-'The Nine Brother Sprites'-Mongol Soldiers and the new priesthood-Influence of Tsonga-ka-pa-His tomb-Anniversary of his death-Official winter-'Lotus Thunderbolt', founder of the line of Dalai Lamas-Childhood and youth-Takes the name of Gee-dun Trup-pa-The great Dre-pung and Se-ra monasteries founded-Meditation as a cure for illness-Ge-dun Trup-pa builds Ta-shi Lhun-po monastery- Things deposited in the Image of Gotama Buddha-Image of Ge-dun Trup-pa himself-The Coming Buddha absorbs in it-Visible Inspiration-Last illness-A Goddess weeps-His last instructions-Passes into Buddhahood-Dissension as to successor-Ge-dun Trup-pa's character and life work-The system of Reincarnation in Tibet-Focussed on the succession of Spiritual sovereignty-The system succeeds and is extended.

9. Buddhism Captures Mongolia :
So-nam Gya-tso-System of reincarnation firmly established-Identifies the property, &c., of his former existence-Seeks spiritual Strength by meditation-Spreads Tsong-ka-pa's teaching in Tibet-Accepts Altan Khagan's invitation to visit Mongolia-Tibetan Buddhism introduced into Mongolia three centuries earlier-Witnessed by William de Rubruquis- But had faded away-Mongol opposition to So-nam overcome by miracles-Meeting between King and Lama-Chinese deputation to Lama-The latter proclaims the law-His Political value recognized by China-Effect on Mongolia-So-nam's shrewd use of reincarnation and Karma-The title, Dalai Lama, introduced-So-nam Gya-tso visits China and southeastern Tibet-Appoints Yon-ten Gya-tso as his delegate in Mongolia-Ponist opposition in Eastern Tibet-Altan Khagan is restored to health, but dies a year later-So-nam returns to Mongolia-Invited again to China, but falls ill and dies-Body, Speech, and Mind-Reborn as Allan's grandson, and named Yon-ten Gya-tso-Thus Mongolia takes her Buddhism solely from Tibet.

10. The Priest Enthroned :
De-si Tsang-pa-His humble origin and rise to power-Portuguese Jesuits come to Bhutan and Shigatse-Jesuit Mission in western Tibet-Description of De-si Tsang-pa-How letters are conveyed in Tibet-Difficulties of the young fifth Dalai Lama-Appeals to Gushi Khan, the Mongol, who conquers Tibet and makes it over to him-But is unsuccessful in his attack on Bhutan-An occasional autocracy-Impetus given also to Buddhism in Mongolia-Study of dialectics-Tsang-pas descend the rope, Lhasa's yearly precaution-Fifth Dalai Lama and De-si Tsang-pa enter into Relations with Emperor of China-General political position in the middle of the seventeenth century-Incarnations or Living Buddhas- Potala built-Description of exterior and interior-Dalai Lama moves into Potala and lives in seclusion-His apartments in Dre-pung preserved as a sacred bequest-The Regent, Sang-gye Gya-tso-Festival of the 'Great Prayer' enlarged-Dalai Lama visits Chinese Emperor-Golden tablet-Establishment of sovereign power in Lhasa-Sang-gye Gya-tso conceals Dalai Lama's death-The new Incarnation-Fifth Dalai Lama is a turning-point in Tibetan history-Tibetan veneration for his memory.

11. Christian Missionaries in Lhasa :
How young Dalai Lamas are brought up-Sixth Dalai's love for women, wine, and song-Chinese and Mongols wish to depose him-Sang-gye Gya-tso killed-His services to Tibet-His image in Lhasa Police court; throne preserved in Potala court of justice-Mongols and Chinese seize sixth Dalai Lama and take him towards Peking, but he dies on the way-Dispute as to fresh Incarnation and consequent fighting-Tibetan nominee. accepted, but Chinese gain power in Tibet-Capuchin Priests in Lhasa- Tibetan opposition-Civil War-Mission withdraws-Desideri, the Jesuit Father, in Lhasa-Interviews with Commander-in-Chief and Regent-Gives Regent an exposition of Christianity written in Tibetan-Oelot invasion, Regent killed, Desideri flees to Tak-po-Completes Book controverting Buddhism and explaining Christianity-A Tibetan history's reference to the life of Christ-Quits Tibet after living there for five years-His description of Lhasa-Almost the same to-day-Capuchins come again to Lhasa-Final collapse of Mission-Hue and Gabet-Tibetan priesthood has always prevented Christian priests from staying in Tibet- Mob violence, learning, asceticism-Mission relic in Lhasa.

12. Modern Times :
Tibetan dislike of alien rule-Fresh uprising against Chinese-China's policy in Tibet-Pan-chen Lama visits Chinese court-Gurkha invasion of Tibet-Lord Cornwallis-Attempts to control the next world-Rules for choosing Incarnations-Manning sees a boy Dalai Lama-Four Dalai Lamas in succession die young-An intriguing Abbot and a strong Regent-Tibetan explanation of the early deaths of these four-An angry goddess-Poison-'The ball of great price'-How a young Dalai Lama is identified-Mausolea of the Dalai Lamas-Anniversary of the death of the ninth-Present Dalai Lama-Attempt to kill by witchcraft-Ponist element, even among high Lamas of the reformed sect-Appearance and character of the Dalai Lama-Religious and Secular events in his reign- 'The Work Washing Abbot'-Dalai Lama offers soldiers to fight for the British in the World War.

Part 2 : HOW IT RULES :
13. The Power of the Monasteries :
Power of the monks-Monastery in revolt-Monks seldom liable to secular jurisdiction-Twice yearly assume the powers of the Lhasan magistracy-Dalai Lama restrains them-Priests govern districts-presents given to monasteries to gain their support-Dalai Lama reduces the power of the monasteries-Monks in personal employ of Dalai Lama-China and 'The Three Seats'-Chinese government and the Tibetan priesthood-Monastery in revolt-'Shut them up with their lice'-Relations between priests and laymen-Power of the priesthood.

14. Priests as Civil and Military Officers :
Priests in civil and military employ-Method of recruitment-The Ecclesiastical School-Varied duties of priest officials--Two or three officials working jointly-The three treasuries-The 'Barley Flour Takers'-Custodians of the Temple and of the chapels in the Potala-Priest officials work hard-The Court of the Grand Secretaries-Smallness of official salaries-Independent attitude of the Priest officials-A Lama in military employ-The Lord Chamberlain-A Living Buddha made a Tie-trung-Fate of a Living Buddha who became a king-Civilian appointed to command a regiment-Priest made a lay official-'The Presence Tea'-A priest in diplomacy-Priests work as military officers-'Let them Dance as they will'.

15. A Deity as King :
The Regent-How chosen-'The Enthroned of Gan-den'-A layman as Regent -Dalai Lama's Regent-Spiritual sovereignty-Great power of Dalai Lama-Control of the monks-Outbreaks in religious festivals-A bankrupt merchant-Dalai Lama's monastic policy-Secular sovereignty-Judicial work-Decree against Prime Minister-Removal of checks on Dalai Lama's power-Jurisdiction in Criminal cases-Capital punishment-Important cases-Unauthorized appeals to His Holiness-An autocratic ruler-Influence in Mongolia-Heaviness of his work-Relations with Ta-shi Lhun-po and Bhutan-Dalai and Pan-chen Lamas compared-Criticisms on Dalai Lama and the reply to them-Dalai Lama tells China that Tibet is independent of her-His religious devotions-Omniscience-Writing on Mountain sides-Reverence accorded to Dalai Lama.