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.

Zung chu County

(204) Gla ro Monastery

1. Name

The monastery’s full name is dMu dge Gla ro gYung drung dgon.

2. Location

The monastery is located 180 km of Songpan, the seat of Zung chu county.

3. History

According to the dMu dge gla ro g-yung drung dgon gyi dkar chag (hereafter Gla ro dgon gyi dkar chag, ZGSK pp. 247-255) the entire population of dMu dge was Bonpo, and there were four large Bonpo monasteries and a number of smaller ones in the region. The four monasteries were A sngags khyung tshang, A skyid nor bu gling, mDo bstan ’ol mo gling and Gla ro g-yung drung gling. In the 10th Rab byung (1567-1626), Yon tan rgya mtsho, a lama from the dGe lugs pa monastery of sTong skor in Hor sTong skor (Gla ro dgon gyi dkar chag ZGSK pp.247-249) in Kokonor invaded dMu dge in Shar khog with his army and according to the same Sources A sngags khyung tshang Monastery was burned down with the monks inside (ZGSK pp.254-255) and all the other monasteries were also destroyed with the exception of Gla ro Monastery.

Fortunately later sNang zhig Nyi ma rig ’dzin was able to save the monastery and rebuilt it in the Wood-sheep Year of the 14th Rab byung (1825).

The successive heads of the monastery were:

  1. bsTan pa rgyal mtshan
  2. bsTan ’dzin dbang rgyal
  3. bKra shis phun tshogs
  4. gYung drung rgyal mtshan
  5. sKal bzang rgyal mtshan
  6. Kun bzang rgyal mtshan
  7. gTsugs phud rnam rgyal
  8. bKra shis zla ba rgyal mtshan
  9. Dung ri dBang ldan
  10. Bla ma mKhar yag tshang
  11. Tshul khrims bstan ’dzin
  12. gYung drung bstan ’dzin rgyal mtshan

The monastery was knocked down during the Cultural Revolution and gYung drung bstan ’dzin rgyal mtshan rebuilt it in 1987. According to oral tradition, the original population of dMu dge came from Zhang zhung during King Khri srong lde btsan’s persecution of Bon in the 8th century. The group, led by two personages known as sTag la rje and dBal gsas skyabs, sought refuge in the area where they settled (ZGSK pp.254-255). Many families have preserved a number of ritual objects and customs from Zhang zhung.

4. Hierarchical system

  • mkhan po
  • one dbu mdzad
  • one dge skos
  • one gnyer ba
  • one mchod dpon, wih no predetermined terms of office

5. Current number of monks

There are thirteen monks and novices in the monastery.

6. Current education

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

7. Educational exchange

There are occasional educational exchanges with mKhar yag Monastery.

8 / 9. Rituals

The observance of the summer fast (dbyar gnas) for three days in the 6th or 7th month with no fixed dates; the dgu gtor rite based on the ritual cycle of sTag la from the 25th to the 30th day of the 12th month.

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 (lha sde) consists of villages: Te’u jo with seven families, bKa’ srung with six families, Chu lung with six families, Ba zhun with six families and Do ’phags with four families.

13. Local festivals

The monks and local lay community join other communities in the region to venerate Mounts Bya dur and Dung ri, the two most important sacred mountains of Bon in the region (cf. sNa steng Monastery No.199).

14. Occupation of the local people

Farming and nomads


(1) Interviews

With following monks of the monastery in autumn 1998: Shes rab bstan ’dzin (b.1978), Shes rab ’od zer (b.1977), sKal bzang dar rgyas (b.1973) and Phun tshogs (b.1980)

(2) Texts
  1. dMu dge gla ro g-yung drung dgon gyi dkar chag by bsTan ’dzin mchog legs rab rgyas in Zing (zung) chu rdzong dgon pa so sogs (so’i) dkar chag, Mimeograph 1993, pp. 247-256

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.