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.

Li thang County

(167) ’Gro mgon Monastery

1. Name

The full name of the monastery is ’Gro mgon g-yung drung bdud ’dul gling.

2. Location

The monastery is located 86 km north of Li thang, the county seat.

3. History

The founder of the monastery is believed to be ’Gro mgon bDud rtsi rgyal mtshan who was born into the ’Gro mgon family of dBra village in Bu ’bor sgang in the bZhag area in Khams. He founded the monastery at the age of twenty-two.47 He took his monastic vows from ’Gro mgon gYor med at the age of twenty-five and received the name bDud rtsi rgyal mtshan. He passed away at the age of fifty-eight. His successor was his nephew ’A zha Blo gros rgyal mtshan (1198-1263), who was ordained at the age of twenty-eight by bDud rtsi rgyal mtshan, his uncle. He died at the age of sixty-three.

Mu po provides a list of the following masters in his ’Gro mgon g-yung drung bdud ’dul gling:

  1. mKhas grub ’Dul ba rgyal mtshan
  2. dBang gi rgyal po
  3. bsTan pa rgyal mtshan
  4. lHun grub dbang rgyal
  5. Rin chen ’od zer
  6. gYung drung dbang ldan
  7. sByin pa rgyal mtshan
  8. sMon lam lhun grub
  9. rGyal ba gtsug phud
  10. Grub chen ’Brug grags
  11. bSod nams dbang rgyal
  12. Tshe dbang g-yung drung
  13. rNam rgyal gtsug phud
  14. Kun dga’ lhun grub
  15. bSod nams rgyal mtshan
  16. lHun grub dpal bzang
  17. rGyal ba gtsug phud
  18. Shes rab seng ge
  19. rGyal ba tshul khrims
  20. bsTan pa ’brug grags
  21. gYung drung phun tshogs
  22. Gar dbang rdo rje
  23. gYung drung smon lam
  24. Blo gros dbang ldan
  25. gYung drung nyi ma
  26. Shes rab blo gros
  27. gYung drung rgyal mtshan
  28. bsKal bzang bstan rgyas48

gSang sngags gling pa(1864-?) and Shar rdza bKra shis rgyal mtshan (1858-1934) and dBra ston bsKal bzang bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan (1897-1959) visited the monastery to give teachings. The monastery was razed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt in 1991. The present master of the monastery is ’Chi med rnam rgyal (b.1989).

4. Hierarchical system

  • one dgon bdag
  • one mkhan po
  • one dbu mdzad (replaced every year)
  • one dge skos (replaced every year)
  • one mchod g-yog (replaced every year)
  • one spyi ba (replaced every year)

5. Current number of monks

There are fifty-three novices and monks in the monastery.

6. Current education

There are no organized classes. The young novices are trained by the elder monks.

7. Educational exchange

The monks go to sMan ri Monastery (No.1) and Shar rdza Hermitage (No.138) to take their ordination vows and for further teachings.

8 / 9. Rituals

  • 1st month: the ritual known as sKyil ’khor zhi sgrub based on the Bla ma sku gsum gyi drag phur dkyil ’khor by gSang sngags gling pa from the 1st day for seven days
  • 4th month Sidhi recitation for seven days
  • recitation of Kanjur from the 15th day of the 5th month to the 15th day of the 6th month the dbyar gnas fasting from the 15th day of the 6th month to 30th day of the 7th month
  • 9th month: sTag la with the dgu gtor rite from the 22nd day to the end of the month
  • 11th month: the ritual cycles of Khro bo and Phur pa from the 22nd day for seven days

10. Books held in the monastery

The monastery has a copy of the printed copy of Kanjur; printed copies of the collected works of the following masters: mNyam med Shes rab rgyal mtshan, Shar rdza bKra shis rgyal mtshan, dBra ston bsKal bzang bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan and bDe chen gling pa.

11. Income and expenses

The monastery depends on offering from its followers. The monks provide their own food.

12. Local community

The local lay community of the monastery consists of four comunities (shog khag) in the area: rJo bo, Mar shod, Yar shod and ’Bo ba. rJo bo community comprises eight villages: Ba kha with eight families, Bo rig with one family, Bu lo with seven families, ’Bar la with four families, Khyer ba with seven families, gZi lung with three families, gNam gsas with six families and Ya dar with five families; Mar shod community comprises one village A rje which has only one Bonpo family; Yar shod community comprises one village A rje which has only Bonpo family; ’Bo ba community comprises one village Shing las which has only one Bonpo family.

13. Local festivals

The mountain behind the monastery is called gYung drung lha rtsa and is regarded as the abode of the local deity of the same name and has a la btsas at its summit which is renewed on the 13th day of the 4th month.

There is a sacred site called Dran pa zhi khro gnas. It is located 1 km northwest of the monastery and was sanctified by gSang sngags gling pa. It is worshipped every Dog Year by both monastic and lay communities together. There is another sacred mountain called sNa brag dkar, located four hours on horseback north of the monastery, worshipped by both Bonpos and Buddhists following the Buddhist tradition, every Horse Year.on the 15th day of the 1st month.

14. Occupation of the local people

Farmers

Sources

(1) Interviews

With the following monks at the monastery in autumn 1997: gYung drung rgyal mtshan (b.1958), Pad ma (b.1958), Blo gros (b.1978)

(2) Texts
  1. lHo ’gro mgon gyi lo rgyud (rgyus) udpal’i ’phreng mdzes rjes ’brang blo gsal gyi mgul rgyan, anonymous, MS
  2. -’Gro mgon g-yung drung bdud ’dul gling by Mu po, MS

Notes

[47] According to ’Gro mgon gYung drung bdud ’dul gling by Mu po, MS. p.4., he was born in a Iron-Dragon Year called rNam gnon (620 A.D.), but then goes on to say that ’A zha Blo gros rgyal mtshan, ’Gro mgon bDud rtsi rgyal mtshan’s nephew, was born in 624 A.D. This is obviously incorrect since we know that ’A zha Blo gros rgyal mtshan was an abbot of gYas ru dben sa Monastery in gTsang. Therefore bDud rtsi rgyal mtshan cannot have lived in the 11th century.
[48] It is obvious that Mu po copied this list from lHo ’gro mgon gyi lo rgyud (rgyus) utpla’i ’phreng mdzes rjes ’brang blo gsal gyi mgul rgyan; he claims that there were one hundred and thirteen masters in the succession of ’Gro mgon. Furthermore, the text was undoubtedly written in the 20th century since it mentions several personages such as dBra ston bsKal bzang bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan (1897-1959).
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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.