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Tibetan Buddhism : Introduction and Basic Concepts

Context:- Tibetan Buddhism : The Dalai Lama has named a US-born Mongolian boy as the 10th Khalkha JetsunDhampa, the head of the Janang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.


Tibetan Buddhism : The Dalai Lama has named a US-born Mongolian boy as the 10th Khalkha JetsunDhampa, the head of the Janang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism evolved as a form of Mahāyāna Buddhism stemming from the latest stages of Indian Buddhism (which included many Vajrayāna elements).

The 9th Khalkha JetsunDhampa died in 2012 at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Since then, there had been a wait for his reincarnation.

  • Buddhism, originated in India, became the predominant religion in Tibet by the 9th century AD.
  • It evolved from the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism, incorporating many tantric and shamanic practices of both post-Gupta period Buddhism in India.
  • Tibetan Buddhism also incorporates from the Bon religion which was spread across Tibet before Buddhism’s arrival.
Tibetan Buddhism has 4 major schools:
  1. Nyingma (8th century)
  2. Kagyu (11th century)
  3. Sakya (1073)
  4. Gelug (1409)
  • The Janang school (12th century) is one of the smaller schools that grew as an offshoot of the Sakya school.
  • Gelug School – Since 1640, the Gelug School has been the predominant school of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • The Dalai Lama belongs to Gelug School.
  • Reincarnation – The Dalai Lama is the foremost spiritual and temporal authority of Tibet.
  • The 5th grand lama of the school, NgawangLobsang Gyatso, was first conferred the title of Dalai Lama (‘Dalai’ means ‘ocean’ in Mongol).
  • To consolidate his rule, he instituted the tradition of succession through reincarnation in the Gelug School.
  • He himself claimed to be the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, one of the most important Bodhisattvas in Mahayana traditions.
  • According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the spirit of a deceased lama is reborn in a child.
  • Several procedures are followed to recognise Tulkus (recognised reincarnations).
  • Over the past 70 years of Chinese occupation, he has been living in exile in Dharamshala, India.

At the core of Buddhist teachings are the Four Noble Truths (and Eight Fold Paths), explaining the nature and cause of suffering and the way to enlightenment: a focused approach that makes no mention of a creator and that seems in our contemporary world more a philosophy — a perspective on reality — and a guide to living, than a religion. Yet, although Tibetan Buddhism is based on those core teachings, it includes practices that extend into the supernatural realm, such as defense against omnipresent evil spirits. Thus the religion seems almost split into two paradoxical factions: the spiritual path to enlightenment, and rituals of protection against the hosts of evil. And although the original teachings of the Buddha do not mention a creator or other deities, Tibetan Buddhism embraces a vast pantheon of divinities.

These supramundane beings derive from the intersection of many sources and influences, both native and external. Only a general survey of this complex subject can be given here.

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