In Tibet Buddhism
is both a religion and a philosophy of life. It is a deep
and comprehensive philosophical system that embraces life
in all of its manifestations - from the simplest microscopic
creatures to beings in dimensions beyond human existence.
Buddhism views all of life as one inseparable whole.
Buddhism is a
disciplined practice of mental and spiritual path to develop
compassion (loving-kindness for all beings) and wisdom (insight
into the nature of reality). It is the path that was first
taught more than 2,500 years ago by the Buddha Shakyamuni,
who succeeded in achieving complete realization of perfect
wisdom and compassion. It is a path that leads to the cessation
of all sorrow (Samsara) and the experience of supreme joy
Tara, the female manifestation of all Buddhas, is the goddess
of compassion. Her love heals at the source of disease,
bringing health, strength, longevity and beauty. Her white
color indicates purity and complete undifferentiated Truth.
As a religion
Tibetan Buddhism has evolved over centuries and is institutionalized
into Five main schools:
("Old") School: This school of Tibetan Buddhism
followed from the famous Indian guru Padmasambhava, affectionately
known as Guru Rinpoche. He came to Tibet, from India, on
invitation from King Tisong Detsen in 7th century. Named
appropriately because they are the oldest school of Tibetan
Buddhism. Padmasambhava built the renowned Samyey monastery
(in Southern Tibet), which became a principal center of
learning, where most of the Sanskrit texts and literature
from India were first translated into Tibetan. Nyingmapas
are usually mystic and their teachers may take on a consort.
Old Khadampa School:
is the teacher who brought the Mind Training teaching from
Sumatra to India and then transmitted it to Tibet . He was
born in India in A.D 982. He was first initiated into, and
became an adept in, the esoteric and magical practices of
Tantra which were very popular in India at the time, and
in fact were to soon to absorb and extinguish Indian Buddhism.
- Kagyut ("Transmitted Command") School: Kagyutpas believe that the celestial Buddha Dorje-Chang
(Sanskrit, Vajra-Dhara) imparted their first teaching to
an Indian yogi Tilopa who lived in India during the 10th
Century. Naropa, a celebrated professor of philosophy, in
Nalanda University, succeeded him. Among the disciples of
Naropa were first of the Tibetan teacher of Kagyutpa sect,
Marpa the translator. Milarepa succeeded Marpa. Kagyutpas
are known for practicing advanced yoga like "tum-mo"(Mystic
Heat Yoga) and "bardo" (Stage in between death
and rebirth) yoga. His Holiness Karmapa belongs to this
- Sakya School:
Named after its principal monastery situated in southern
Tibet, founded in 1703 by Konchog Gyalpo. The heads of this
school was the first to rise to political power in Tibet
in 13th century along with the rise of great Mongol Khans.
A 'patron-saint' relationship was established between the
two countries then.
- New Khadampa or Gelug ("Virtuous") School:
Also known as the Yellow Hat Order was founded by Lama Tsong-khapa.
The Gelug tradition evolved into a fully independent school
of Tibetan Buddhism towards the end of the fourteenth century,
A.D. Lama Tsong-khapa stresses on the importance of monastic
virtues and upon the need to establish a firm understanding
of sutra teachings before graduating to tantras. Lama Tsong-khapa
founded the great Ganden Monastery in 1409. Gelug tradition
spread all over Tibet and further, to Mongolia, where almost
the entire population became devout Gelug followers. The
teachings also spread through China influencing the successive
emperors who became great supporters of Buddhism. His Holiness
the Dalai Lama belongs to this tradition. Arjia Rinpoche
is the reincarnation of the father of Lama Tsong-khapa.