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His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

Information about the Dalai Lama in conjunction with his address to the Monmouth University community on September 21, 2021.

Tibetan Buddhism

from The Columbia Encyclopedia

form of Buddhism prevailing in the Tibet region of China, Bhutan, the state of Sikkim in India, Mongolia, and parts of Siberia and SW China. It has sometimes been called Lamaism, from the name of the Tibetan monks, the lamas [superior ones]. The religion is derived from the Indian Mahayana form of Buddhism, but much of its ritual is based on the esoteric mysticism of Tantra and on the ancient shamanism and animism of Bon, an older Tibetan religion. It is also called Tantrayana [tantra vehicle] or Vajrayana [vehicle of the thunderbolt].

Beliefs and Practices

The most dedicated Tibetan Buddhists seek nirvana, but for the common people the religion retains shamanistic elements. The worship also includes reciting prayers and intoning hymns, often to the sound of great horns and drums. A protective formula of esoteric significance, Om mani padme hum [Om, the jewel in the lotus], is repeated; it is inscribed on rocks and walls, tallied on prayer wheels, and displayed on banners and streamers. In addition to a large pantheon of spirits, demons, and genii, many Buddhas and bodhisattvas (future Buddhas) are worshiped along with their ferocious consorts, or Taras. The monastic orders include abbots, ordained religious mendicants, novices (candidates), and neophytes (children on probation). The standing of nuns is inferior.

Early History

The traditional account of its origin is that Buddhism was introduced into Tibet by a Nepali and a Chinese princess, devout Buddhists, who became (7th cent. A.D.) the wives of the Tibetan king Srongtsen Gampo. The new religion was actually established, however, by one of the successors of that king when he called from India the Padmasambhava, a Tantric mystic and teacher who founded (c.750) a Buddhist monastery near Lhasa. Buddhist writings were later translated from Sanskrit in two sections: the Kanjur [translated word], a collection of sacred texts, and the Tanjur [translated treatises], a collection of commentaries (see Buddhist literature).

The early lamas and their successors, constituting the so-called Red Hat sects, rapidly built up power. The Bon shamans, however, fought back successfully, and for over a century the new faith was suppressed. In 1042 a reformer, Atisa (982–1054), a monk from India, arrived in Tibet, unified the priesthood, improved the moral tone by enforcing monastic rules, and tried to eliminate any vestiges of Bon ritual from the religion. He was the founder of the Kadampa sect. Another sect, the Kargyupa, was founded by the translator Marpa (1012–97) and his famous disciple Milarepa.

From: Tibetan Buddhism. (2018). In P. Lagasse, & Columbia University, The Columbia encyclopedia (8th ed.). Columbia University Press. Credo Reference: https://ezproxy.monmouth.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/columency/tibetan_buddhism/0?institutionId=1520