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

(173) dPag bsam lhun ’grub Monastery

1. Name

The monastery is also known as sBal lung dgon, after the name of the site.

2. Location

The monastery is located 78 km northwest of Rong brag, the county seat.

3. History

The name of the founder is given as sKu zhabs Dam pa by gNyag chos nyid rdo rje, but it is obviously not a real name.

He also states that the monastery was founded in the Earth-Ox year of the 12th Rab byung (1709). sKu zhabs Dam pa was succeeded by Nyi ma, who had three reincarnations, mGal bu sku zhabs, Kong yul sku zhabs and A mgal sku zhabs. mGal bu succeeded him as the abbot of the monastery but left shortly after for mDo bzhi mo Monastery. The monastery was burned down in the Fire-Dragon year of the 15th Rab byung (1916) during a skirmish. It was later restored by a lama called Tshe dbang. The latter’s reincarnation was Tshe dbang sku chung alias mDo lo sprul sku who died in the middle of the 20th century. The present head of the monastery is dGa’ ba bkra shis (b.1943) and the khri pa is bsTan pa’i rgyal mtshan.

4. Hierarchical system

  • one khri pa
  • one dbu mdzad
  • one dge skos
  • one mchod g-yog
  • one ’cham dpon

All the incumbents are replaced every three years with the exception of the khri pa.

5. Current number of monks

There are ten 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 monastery is a branch of gZhun ring Monastery (No.160) and its chanting and ’cham tradition follow that of gZhung ring.

8 / 9. Rituals

The smon lam prayer from the 7th to the 19th day of the 1st month; the smyung gnas fasting from the 10th to the 18th day of the 4th month; rNam rgyal stong mchod for seven days in the 7th month.

10. Books held in the monastery

The monastery has a printed copy of Kanjur, Nam mkha’ bstan ’dzin’s edition.

11. Income and expenses

The monastery depends on donations from its followers.

12. Local community

The local lay community of the monastery consists of eight villages: ’O mkhyen with twenty-five families, ’Bri no with ten families, Ra sde with fifteen families, Ra zur with twelve families, mDa’ mdo with twenty-four families, sBal lung with six families, Gon cha with six families and Tsha nyal with eighteen families.

13. Local festivals

The mountain behind the monastery, sBal lung gdong, is the abode of the local deity sKu bla dBal drel and is propitiated on the 13th day of the 5th month. There is a la btsas at the top known by the same name.

There is a sacred mountain (gnas ri) called Rin chen spungs pa about 2 km from the monastery that was designated as such by A khu Tshe dbang, a master of gZhung ring Monastery. The Seng chen hermitage is an hour’s walk west of the monastery.

14. Occupation of the local people



(1) Interview

In autumn in 1997 with dGa’ ba bkra shis (b.1943), head of the monastery

(2) Texts
  1. dPag bsam lhun ’grub gling by gNyags Chos nyid rdo rje, MS

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.