Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
A Survey of Bonpo Monasteries
by Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble and Marietta Kind
Edited by Samten G. Karmay and Yasuhiko Nagano
National Museum of Ethnology and THL
Reproduced with permission from the authors
under the THL Digital Text License.

Nyag chu county

(165) ’Du ra Monastery

1. Name

’Du ra Monastery was formerly known as gYung drung gsang phug or dPal gshen ’du ra.43 It belongs to rBa smyug rong township.

2. Location

The monastery is located 109 km south of sPun zla grong, the seat of Nyag chu county.

3. History

The monastery seems to have been founded by ’Gro mgon rGyal ba tshul khrims in the Water-Rat year before the first Rab byung (1012).44 According to legend,45 it was one of the thirty-seven ’Du gnas, “gathering places”, during the period of sTag ri gnyan gzigs, the thirty-first king of the lDe dynasty in Yarlung. Then a master known as dGe legs rnam rgyal alias mKha’ ’gying ram nag from rGyal rong renamed the sacred site gYung drung gsang phug. It is also known dPal gShen bstan ldum ra. His successors were Khro rgyal rtse, lDe nag khyung gsas dbal bon (the latter founded a nunnery called ’Og min dga’ ldan that produced several reputed female practitioners), rMa lHa rgod, Yab zin bon ston, and finally Khod po Blo gros thogs med (1280-1337) who rebuilt the monastery at the age of sixty-seven.46 He was succeeded by Shes rab rgyal mtshan, ’Gro mgon Klong rol dbang rgyal, but it is not certain whether the latter was a direct descendant of the former. Then, according to the Mi nyag ldum ra dgon byung tshul, the following masters in the succession were:

  1. dBang bsgyur bstan pa rgyal mtshan
  2. lHun grub dbang rgyal
  3. Rin chen rgyal mtshan
  4. Blo gsal g-yung drung dbang ldan
  5. sKyabs mgon sByin pa rgyal mtshan
  6. mTshungs med sMon lam lhun grub
  7. rTogs ldan rGyal ba gtsug phud
  8. Grub chen bsTan pa ’brug grags
  9. gDeng thog bSod nams dbang rgyal
  10. sGom chen Tshe dbang g-yung drung
  11. rTsal rdzogs rNam rgyal gtsug phud
  12. rNam mkhyen Kun dga’ lhun grub
  13. mKhyen brtse lHun grub dpal bzang
  14. rNam dag rGyal ba gtsug phud
  15. Shes rab seng ge
  16. Shes rab dbang ldan
  17. rGyal ba tshul khrims
  18. bsTan pa ’brug grags
  19. gYung drung phun tshogs
  20. gYung drung smon lam
  21. Blo gros dpal ldan
  22. gYung drung nyi ma
  23. gYung drung rgyal mtshan

At some point the monastery was destroyed in a skirmish and was rebuilt by rGyal ba gtsug phud, the 14th. The monastery was again destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and was rebuilt in the 1980s.

4. Hierarchical system

  • one mkhan po
  • two dbu mdzad (one dbu mdzad che ba and one chung ba)
  • one dge skos
  • two phyag mdzod
  • two mchod dpon (one mchod dpon and one mchod g-yog)
  • one mgon khang bla ma

All the incumbents are replaced every three years with the exception of the mkhan po.

5. Current number of monks

There are twenty-seven novices and monks in the monastery.

6. Current education

There are language and religious teachings for the young novices, and the mgon khang bla ma is the teacher.

7. Educational exchange

In the past the monks went to sMan ri Monastery (No.1). They now also go to Shar rdza Hermitage (No.138) for their ordination vows.

8 / 9. Rituals

  • 1st month: commemoration of mNyam med Shes rab rgyal mtshan for ten days from the 5th day
  • 4th month: a ritual to provoke rainfall and prevent hail storms for five days from the 15th day
  • 5th month: dbyar mchod for thirteen days from the 13th day
  • 9th month: dgun mchod from the 18th day for fifteen days, ending with the dgu gtor rite and the’cham dances: dBal gsas tshogs ’cham, dMu bdud zhal ’cham, dPal ldan lha mo, ’Dod yon lha mo, sTag la’i rnga ’cham, gShen rab dgu ’cham, gSer skyems, rNam brgyad, Mon pa, dMag dpon, Sha ba, Dur khrod and dGe slong

10. Books held in the monasery

The monastery has a copy of the new edition of Kanjur in 165 volumes and a printed copy of the collected works of Shar rdza bKra shis rgyal mtshan, and various ritual texts.

11. Income and expenses

The monastery depends on offerings from the faithful. The monks provide their own food.

12. Local community

The local lay community consists of five communities (shog khag):Tsher ma rong, ’Brog pa, Rong pad ’dzin, Rag gong and Ma ti shod. Tsher ma rong community comprises four villages: Tsho cha with forty-three families, Bar rdza with fifteen families, gNas zhal with seventeen families and rTa ba with twenty families. ’Brog pa community comprises three villages: Pad ’dzin with nine families, lHa g-yag with three families and Gu ru with seventeen families.

Rong pad ’dzin community comprises four villages: Pad ’dzin with three families, Rong pa with four families, mTsho thog with thirty-two families and Mi nyi shod with twenty-one famileis. Rag gong communities comprises two villages: Rag gong with twenty-six families and Li ’gu with thirty-six families. Ma ti shod communities comprises three villages: sTod pa with nine families, Bar ma with seven families and sMad pa with sixteen families.

13. Local festivals

The mountain behind the monastery is called Seng ge dkar mo and is regarded as the abode of the local eponymous deity. There is a la btsas at the top of the mountain which is renewed on the 15th and 25th days of the 5th month by the monks and on the 3rd day of the 1st month by the lay people.

14. Occupation of the local population

Farmers with the exception of ’Brog pa shog khag who are nomads


(1) Interviews

With the following monks at the monastery in autumn 1997: Nyi ma bstan ’dzin (b.1968), a monk and the present mkhan po of the monastery, gYung drung nor bu (b.1970), gYung drung rnam dag (b.1930), bSod nams blo gros (b.1972), Shes rab ’od zer (b.1974)

(2) Texts
  1. Mi nyag ldum ra dgon byung tshul, anonymous, MS
  2. Mi nyag ’du ra dgon pa’i lo rgyus by Rig ’dzin bstan srung, MS
  3. ’Chi med ’gro ’dul Khod spungs Blo gros thogs med kyi skyes rabs dang ’brel ba’i don gyi rnam thar gdung rabs dang bcas pa rdzogs ldan sprin gyi rol mo by dBra ston sKal bzang bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan (1897-1959) (xylographic edition)


[43] There is a short history of the monastery entitled Mi nyag ldum ra dgon byung tshul (MS) by an un unknown author who writes first lDum ra dgon and then ’Du ra dgon, but the monks in the monastery have affirmed that ’Du ra is the correct name of the monastery.
[44] Mi nyag ’du ra dgon pa’i lo rgyus by Rig ’dzin bstan srung, MS., p.1
[45] Mi nyag ldum ra dgon byung tshul, MS., p.1.
[46] According to Mi nyag ldum ra dgon byung tshul (pp.6-7) he built lDum ra monastery at the age of sixty-seven and that he died at the age of seventy-seven in ’Du ra monastery, but according to Khod po Blo gros thogs med he died in 1337 at the age of fifty-eight.

Note Citation for Page

Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble, and Marietta Kind, A Survey of Bonpo Monasteries and Temples in Tibet and the Himalaya (Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 2003), .

Bibliographic Citation

Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble, and Marietta Kind. A Survey of Bonpo Monasteries and Temples in Tibet and the Himalaya. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 2003.