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Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism refers to Tibetan-language Buddhism, also known as Lamaism.

In the early 7th century, Songtsan Gambo wed Tang Dynasty (618-907) Princess Wencheng from the Central Plains and Nepalese Princess Bhributi. Each princess brought to Tubo a statue of Buddha, and the Jokhang and Rampoche Monasteries were built to house the two statues. Artisans who accompanied the princesses had monasteries built, while accompanying Buddhist monks set about translating the Buddhist scriptures. As a result, Buddhism made its way into Tubo life, and Buddhist tenets gradually infiltrated its politics, economics, culture, education, customs and habits. Tibetan Buddhism that emerged was widely worshipped by the Tubo residents.

Through a prolonged period of cultural exchanges, Tibetan Buddhism has spread to other ethnic groups in China, such as the Mongolian, Tu, Yugu, Lhoba, Moinba, Naxi and Pumi ethnic groups. It has worshippers not only in China's Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, but also in Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia and Russia.

During the heyday of Tibetan Buddhism, each Tibetan family was required to provide at least one member to become a monk or nun. This is why Tibetan monks and nuns made up 25 percent of the Tibetan population in the 16th century and thereafter. In 1950, there were 100,000 monks and nuns, or over 10 percent of the Tibetan population in Tibet in 1951. Following the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the Central Government followed a policy of freedom of religious belief in Tibet. After the Democratic Reform in 1960, various monasteries conducted reform according to suggestions by the 10th Panchen Erdeni. Tibetan people have since enjoyed freedom to be lamas or resume secular life. Nowadays, there are 1,787 religious activity centers, and 46,000 monks and nuns or 2 percent of the Tibetan population in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

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