Tibet Civilization - Essay Example

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In what sense what the final product a combination of Mahayana Buddhism and the new Tantric movement? How did the creation of a "holy empire" forever change Tibetan culture and national identity?
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How was Buddhism fused with imperialism in eighth century Tibet? In what sense what the final product a combination of Mahayana Buddhism and the new Tantric movement? How did the creation of a "holy empire" forever change Tibetan culture and national identity?
October 17, 2011
Tibet Civilization
According to Wallace (1993, p. 24-28), the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet continued from the years when Lord Buddha died around 500 BC. However, the religion was not accepted officially. Various kings such as King Lha Thothori Nyantsen and King Hlato Ri Nyentsen were exposed to Buddhism but they did not accept Buddhism. It was fused with imperialism and became the religion of the kings during the reign of Song Tsen Gampo who ruled from 617 AD to 650 AD. He married two Chinese princesses who were Buddhists. He had the holy book of Sutras translated into the Tibetan language and thus the common people were able to read and understand the Buddhist scriptures. In the 8th century, King Trisong Detsen brought in the great Buddhist scholars from India, Pandit Shantarakshita, Kamalasila and Padmasambhava to spread the word of Lord Buddha. The first spiritual community was set up as a Buddhist monastery in Samye. This helped the Indian version of Buddhism to be established in Tibet and not the Chinese version. In 842 AD, King Lang Dharma persecuted Buddhists and tried to uproot the religion as he tried to bring back the original Bon religion. By 978, during the reign of King Yeshe, Buddhism was revived and with the help of Indian pundits, Buddhism was brought back as the official religion.
According to Smith (2001, p. 45-49), final product of Buddhism was a combination of Mahayana Buddhism and the Tantric movement. Mahayana actually began as a splinter group from the Buddhist Mahasangha and it prescribed a more liberal monastic tradition and attitude for the followers. The followers of Buddhism were used to the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and they had notions of heroes, evil sprits, good, bad and other folklore. Accordingly, Lord Buddha was represented as different godlike Buddha images in different stages. With this belief came the adherence to sutras that are holy utterances and scriptures. Tantras are holy scriptures and writings that explain the process of enlightenment through rebirths and the endless wheel of life. Tantra was practiced by the Siddhi, the expert who knows the secrets of Buddhism. The most important of the sutras are Prajñaparamita also called as the Perfection of Wisdom; Suddharma-pundarika or the true Dharma; Vimalakirti-nirdesha or teachings and stories and the Sukhavati-vyuha or the pure land sutra. Tantra and Mahayana became interlinked and became the final Buddhist product from 1357 onwards when the Gelugs or the Yellow Hat tradition was formed.
According to Wallace (1993, p. 35-43), the creation of a "the Tibetan holy empire" forever changed Tibetan culture and national identity. By 1937, China had emerged from its imperial history and it was overrun by Mao and his communist army. By 1910, the Qing government sent its army to depose the holy Dalai Lama and establish its rule. Till then, Tibet was in isolation and after the Communist revolution of 1912, the Qing Empire was overthrown and in its place, the new Republic of China came to power. The new government also tried to impose its rule on the nation but the Dalai Lama fought with the Chinese and declared himself as the ruler of the holy empire of Tibet. By 1950, China had gained control over the region since it had a strategic location. The native Tibetans fiercely opposed the oppressive Chinese rule and the Dalai Lama fled to India and sought asylum. The Chinese killed more than 200,000 Tibetans and destroyed more than 6000 monasteries. This acts forever changed the fate of Tibetans and the Dalai Lama and his followers have lived in exile in India from 1959 onwards. In effect, the Tibetans’ are refugees in their own land and they have restricted freedom of speech. Their movements are also controlled by the Chinese army.

Smith, Gene. Among Tibetan Texts: History and Literature of the Himalayan Plateau. 2001. Boston: Wisdom Publications
Wallace, Alan. Tibetan Buddhism From the Ground Up: A Practical Approach for Modern Life. 1993. New York: Wisdom Publications Read More
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