Tibet is a very gorgeous and photogenic Himalayan nation that is located in the mountains between China and India. This mountainous nation’s administrative centre is known as Lhasa. Originally, Tibetans adhered to the ancient religion of Bon, which was eventually adopted by the Chinese. After that, Buddhism emerged as the dominant religion in Tibet. There is still a small group of individuals who adhere to the Bon religion, although they are in the minority. After Tibet was invaded by China, the Bon religion was relegated to the background and Buddhism was established as the state religion of Tibet.
King Songtsen Gampo is credited in Tibetan history for bringing Buddhism to Tibet via his marriages to two princesses, one from Nepal and the other from China. Both of these princesses were Buddhists. They presented the court with a large number of Buddhist literature as well as sculptures as part of their dowries. Around this time, Buddhist teachings started to become established in Tibet. Because it also incorporates elements of the Bon religion, Tibetan Buddhism has developed into its own unique form throughout the centuries. In addition, Tibetan Buddhism extended to the provinces and nations that were adjacent to Tibet. As time progressed, a variety of distinct sects emerged, some of which went on to have political as well as theological influence in subsequent years.
Because of the tyranny in China, the Dalai Lama was forced to quit the nation and is now living in exile in Dharmshala, which is located in India. The Mahayana school of Buddhism is the one that Tibetan Buddhism belongs to. They are subdivided into the following five groups:
Nyingmapa, Kahdampa, Kagyupa, Sakyapa and Gelugpa. Tibetan Buddhism is heavily influenced by Hinduism and other faiths that are practised in the region. Meditation and prayers are performed on a consistent basis in complete silence, and they make use of mudras, which are ceremonial postures, mantras, which are sacred speech, yantras, which are holy art, and secret initiation procedures. A Lama enters the monastery at a fairly early age after having through the initiation process. After having his head shaved, a scarlet cloth is handed to him to wrap around himself as a sign of initiation. In their quest for enlightenment, the Lamas travel over the harsh alpine terrains wearing footwear made of plain wooden soles. It is often held that the only way to achieve enlightenment is via a life of self-denial and obedience. If you continue along that route, you will eventually arrive to Buddha.
Every family was required to give the monastery custody of at least one of their children. The youngster will get their education and be introduced into monastic life in this setting. Even young girls as little as seven years old were given the opportunity to begin monastic life. The monastic way of life is quite disciplined. The primary focus of the education provided in the monastery is on spiritual practise and study. The study includes several Buddhist theologies, as well as Tibetan tantras, mantras, and sutras, as well as astrology and Tibetan medicine. These courses are taught over a period of 18 years at the monastery. Those individuals who not only pass the test but also come out on top will be awarded the “Geshe Lharampa” Degree. This is the highest degree that can be earned in the theological study of Tibetan Buddhism. This greatest degree is only attainable by a select few monks because of the rigorous requirements it entails. The life of a monk is comparable to that of a nun serving as a missionary for the Christian faith. It is said that the regimented lifestyle and rigidity prepares them to recognise Buddha and achieve nirvana.
In Tibetan Buddhism, a significant role is played by supernatural creatures. There are many depictions of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and the gods and spirits revered in previous Tibetan faiths such as Bon are still practised today. Both beneficent godlike entities and wrathful deities are shown as having Bodhisattva characteristics.
This metaphysical backdrop has enabled Tibetan Buddhism to establish a robust creative legacy, and paintings and other visual representations are employed as aids to understanding at all levels of Tibetan culture. In Tibet, both the Lamas and the common people observe the ancient rites and ceremonies. The Lamas are the ones who are relied on by the layperson to perform the rituals for good as well as other ceremonies.
Mantras chanted by Tibetan Buddhists begin with “OM,” much as those chanted in Hinduism. The phrase “Om mani padhme hum” is a mantra that is often repeated by Tibetans. Om represents a person’s unclean body, speech, and mind, yet Buddhists believe that even an impure body and mind may be purified and lead to the realisation of Buddha. ‘Mani’ is the gem that represents compassion, love, forgiveness, and the longing to gain enlightenment. ‘Padhme’ means lotus flower, which signifies purity and is linked with the Gods. And ‘hum’ means us, which is to say that all of us should obtain all of the jewels to become affluent. The understanding of ‘Om’ will make the one reciting it a richer soul, just as the wearing of a gem may enhance one’s appearance and lead to financial success.
Prayer wheels, which are typically circular in shape, are a component of the Tibetan religious practise. It has the inscription “Om mani padhme hum” written on it, and it also has many little bells connected to it so that it may make noises as it is turned.
A chorten, also known as a stupa, is a tower-like building that is regarded as a significant landmark in Tibetan Buddhism. It is widely held faith that the Buddha himself may be found inside it. There are three distinct levels to it. A whitewashed construction serves as the foundation of the structure, which also has a whitewashed cylinder in the centre and a crowning steeple or shaft at the top. The Tibetans walk around the stupa in the hope that it would bring them prosperity, good health, and other forms of good fortune. It is symbolic of the four cardinal directions—east, west, north, and south—that the four ends of the stupa, which are located at the top, are tapered upward. This is meant to convey the idea that the Lord should bestow his blessings upon us from up high. Worship of the sun, moon, fire, and water may be found across Tibet.
The eightfold path of Buddhism is represented by a number of the fortunate signs and symbols that may be seen across Tibet.
A pure and spotless white umbrella, much like the one that represents the Virgin Mary. This demonstrates loyalty in another way.
Golden fish represent pleasure, the end of all suffering, and deliverance from evil.
The vessel that dispenses the nectar that leads to immortality.
The lotus is known as the flower of enlightenment and represents purity.
The lessons are disseminated through a conch shell.
The knot of eternity is the thing that ties everyone together and connects them all.
The victory flag is a symbol that demonstrates that Buddhism has triumphed over both ignorance and death.
The Dhrama wheel is a representation of the passage of time and how it proceeds. Additionally, it brings to mind the sermons delivered by Sakhya Muni.
Swastika is a decorative pattern that is often seen on the walls and doors of homes. This is a sign of success and wealth.
The sun and the moon are a common sight in Tibetan communities, and for good reason: they represent the source of light and the magnetic pull of polarities.
The seal of the Kaal Chakra may often be seen on the walls of monasteries. This represents the most advanced levels of initiation into esoteric knowledge, which can only be attained by a select group of lamas.