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.

Chu chen County

(189) dGra lha khyung dgon Monastery

1. Name

The monastery has several names: ’Brug ri bkra shis khyung dgon, Khyung khu, Khyung dgon and Brag bon dgon.

2. Location

The monastery is located in 41 km northwest of Chu chen, seat of the Chu chen county.

3. History

The monastery was founded by gShen rab rgyal in the Earth-Sheep year of the 3rd Rab byung (1199). Following is a list of the monastery’s successive abbots:

  1. gShen rab rgyal
  2. A thang rtswa zan
  3. Bla ma Ka chen
  4. Nam mkha’ dbang ldan
  5. rTogs ldan bsTan ’dzin phun tshogs
  6. bsTan pa ’brug grags
  7. bsTan pa blo gros
  8. gShen rab dbang rgyal
  9. Shes rab tshul khrims
  10. Tshe dbang ’gyur med
  11. bsTan pa blo gros rgyal mtshan (1910-1958)
  12. Shes rab (1941-1963)
  13. gYung drung tshul khrims
  14. gYung drung ye shes
  15. Bla ma rGyal mtshan
  16. Bla ma bsTan ’dzin

The monastery was demolished during the Cultural Revolution and was rebuilt in the 1980s. The present master of the monastery is Rab brtan. He was chosen among the monks of the monastery.

4. Hierarchical system

  • one bla ma
  • one dbu mdzad (replaced every three years)
  • one dge skos (replaced every three years)
  • two gnyer ba (replaced every two years)
  • two lha gnyer (replaced every month)

5. Cuirrent number of monks

There were twenty-eight novices and monks at the monastery in autumn 1998.

6. Current education

There are no organized classes. The novices are taught by one of the learned monks.

8 / 9. Rituals

Commemoration of mNyam med Shes rab rgyal mtshan from the 4th to the 6th day of the 1st month; the ritual cycle of Ma rgyud from the 8th to the 10th day of the 4th month; the observance of the smyung gnas fasting from the 11th to the 14th day of the 10th month.

10. Books held in the monastery

The monastery has one printed copy of the Kanjur and various ritual texts in manuscript.

11. Income and expenses

The monastery has no regular Sources of income and depends on offerings from the faithful. The monks provide their own food.

12. Local community

The local lay community consists of three communities: Mal nib community has 8 villages: bZhi mdo with thirteen families, rGye le with eight families, Ka yam kro with eight families, Yi ban kyo with six families, A go with four families, Li phru with fourteen families, Tang khu with six families, Ru rdo with six families.

Le ltam pe community has five villages: Ka lo with seven families, rMa mdo with twenty families, Nga kyab with twelve families, Pa le with twenty families and sPo to with five families.

rGya yag community has five villages: Yi rdib with eighteen families, Pi kye with eleven families, Sa yo with fifteen families, Mo lo kyo with thirteen families and Mi len teb with fifteen families.

13. Local festivals

Dze mu At the top of the mountain behind the monastery there is la btsas dedicated to the local deity called Dze mu who is propitiated by the monks on the 5th of the 5th month, and another la btsas for the local deity rDza nag located near the monastery to the east, also propitiated on the 5th of the 5th month.

There is also a sacred mountain (gnas ri) called dGra lha khyung rtse 5 km north of the monastery. This was sanctified by

Grub thob gShen rab rgyal and is venerated by the whole local population on the 4th day of the 5th month.

14. Occupation of the local population



(1) Interviews

With following monks at the monastery in autumn 1998: Rab brtan (b.1933), Zhi tho pur (b.1931), Drung drung (b.1931)

(2) Texts
  1. rNga khul chu chen rdzong gi khyung dgon gyi lo rgyus mdor bsdus. Compiled by the Religion Bureau and the Buddhist Association of rNga ba Prefecture, MS, pp.239-240

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.