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

(170) gYung drung dar rgyas Monastery

1. Name

The monastery is usually known as Brag steng gYung drung dar rgyas gling.

2. Location

The monastery is located on the bank of Yongtze river 27 km south of the county town of Rong brag.

3. History

A precise date of foundation of the monastery is not known, but it is said to have been founded by Sangs rgyas gling pa acccording to gNyags Chos nyid rdo rje (gYung drung dar rgyas gling, MS p.1). Sangs rgyas gling pa is one of the four masters of the New Bon Tradition and a famous gter ston. The same Sources also suggests that the monastery was founded prior to the destruction of gYung drung lta steng Monastery (No. 187). The monastery had the Brag steng king as its benefactor and the king was an ardent supporter of gYung drung lta steng which was destroyed by Qianlong in 1776.49 Because of this reason, monks of the monastery were forced to leave the monastery and live in the villages. They had later several monasteries built, for example, Shan co,50 Zhi ba sa le51 and Mu chu la rgod.52

The monastery produced several famous masters, such as Tu phyag Phyogs las rnam rgyal who was born in rJe lung valley which is five kilometers northeast of the monastery and mTshams pa dge bshes (his real name is unknown) was born in She co valley, but there is very little information about theses masters.

In 1940 the monastery was moved and rebuilt by rGyal sprul, a master from Brag ’go and Nyi ma dbang ldan, the king of Brag steng at the present site. It was active until the middle of the twentieth century. It again suffered from destruction and was rebuilt by Nya ngo Tshul khrims and Ye shes with the financial help given by bsTan pa dbang rgyal who was a former monk of the monastery and now a business man living in Lhasa.

4. Hierarchical system:

  • one khri pa
  • one dbu mdzad
  • one dge skos
  • one dkor gnyer

These are appointed on a permanent basis as there are very few monks in the monastery.

5. Current number of monks

There are seven monks in the monastery.

6. Current education

There are no organized classes; the younger monks are trained by the elder monks.

7. Educational exchange

The monastery has no special ties with any other monastery. The monks may go to the monastery of their choice for their ordination.

8 / 9. Rituals

  • First month: commemoration of mNyam med Shes rab rgyal mtshan from the 4th to 5th; commemoration of gShen rab Mi bo from the 14th to 15th
  • Third month: performance of the ritual cycle of Phur pa from the 1st to 15th with the ’cham dances: gShen rab dgu ’cham, Phur ’cham, Me ri’i ’cham, Gyad bzhi and Bla ma bon skor
  • Fourth month: observance of the smyungs gnas fast, from the 14th to 15th
  • Seventh month: the performance of the bsang ceremony on Mount rGyal mo dmu rdo on the 10th

11. Income and expenses

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

12. Local community

The local lay community consists of ten villages: Mi log village with forty families, She co with thirty-three families, Se ri with twenty-three families in She co valley; Pher with fifty-eight families, A la pe with forty-two families, Bram with thirty families, Ma ni ra kho with thirty five families, ’Gi ru with twenty-one families in Yag re village, Shan sde with eighty-five families, Le dom with ten families in Lang ’ge village.

13. Local festivals

The mountain behind the monastery is called bDud kyi zer ba and is regarded as the abode of the local deity called Khyung zhig. There is a la btsas situated at the top of the mountain and renewed only by the monks of the monastery. There is no fixed date for this ceremony.


(1) Interview

In autumn of 1997 with the following monks of the monastery: Tshul khrims rnam dag (b.1928), Tshul khrims ye shes (b.1939), Tshul khrims blo gros (b.1935) and bsTan ’dzin rin chen (b.1915).

(2) Texts
  1. gYung drung dar rgyas gling by gNyag Chos nyid rdo rje. MS


[49] gYung drung lha steng Monastery was one of the most important Bonpo monasteries in rGyal rong. It was destroyed by the Manchou army of Qianlong emperor in 1776 in the second war of rGyal rong. gYung drung lha steng Monastery was forcefully converted to the dGe lungs pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and was given a Chinese name: Guangfasi. Some times it is also called Yongzhong lama si (gYung drung bla ma Monastery). See Jiarong Zangzu Shizhi (History of Tibetans in rGyal rong) by Qiaodan (mChod rten), p.361-364. Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1995. Beijing.
[50] Shan co gtsug lag khang, Shan co is a valley which is located fifteen kilometers northeast of the the monastery.
[51] Zhi ba sa le Monastery was located in Ma le kha kha co valley of today’s Chu chen County of Nga pa Prefecture.
[52] Mu chu la rgod Monastery was located in ’O lung valley of today’s Wen chuan County of Nga pa Prefecture.

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.