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.

Reb gong

(122) Ser kywa Temple

1. Name

Locally, Ser kywa Temple is referred to as a spyi khang, “Common House” and not as a gsas khang. Its full name is Ser kywa (also written as Se ky’a (TsGLNy, p.96) and Ser ky’a (KhKRL, p.128) Bon sngags bdud ’dul me ri ’khyil gling.

2. Location

The temple is located in Ser kywa village in Shar lung district (xiang), Khri ka county, 15km southeast of the county town (latitude: 35°57’01”N, longitude: 101°31’06”E).

3. History

As with the other gsas khang in the Kononor region, there are no reliable historical accounts of the monastery, whether oral or written.

5. Number of tantric practitioners

The gsas khang has one hundred and thirty-six tantric practitioners.

6. Education

According to some of the older members of the gsas khang, such as Kun bzang, the gsas khang was under the guidance of mKhar nag Tulku and sBra ser Tulku of sTong che (in Khri ka) until the nineteen-fifties.The present master is Bon brgya dGe legs lhun grub rgya mtsho.Young practitioners study ritual with their own private tutors, and also go to Bon brgya Monastery or other places where Bon brgya Rinpoche helps them receive further training. Bon brgya Rinpoche also occasionally visits the gsas khang to give teachings.

7. Exchanges with other gsas khang establishments

With the exception of the above-mentioned relations with Bon brgya Rinpoche and his monastery, the gsas khang has no traditional ties with any other monastery or gsas khang.

8. Monthly Rituals

Kun bzang, sPyi ’dul and sTag la rituals are performed on the 19th day of each month. Known as zla cho.

9. Annual Rituals

  • 1st month: 10th-15th: rGya lo’i smon lam. The rituals performed during this period are prescribed by Bon brgya Rinpoche on the 1st day of the 1st month when representatives of the gsas khang go to Bon brgya Monastery to pay their respects on New Year’s Day. Generally the smon lam rituals include the propitiation of Khro bo gtso mchog and A bswe.
  • 3rd month: 25th-30th, the rite of A bswe and performance of the sNang srid zhi chen ritual.
  • 4th month: 4th - 5th, the offering of 1000 times according to the sKye sgo gcod pa; 8th -13th, the ritual of fasting (smyung gnas) and of Kun bzang rgyal ba rgya mtsho; 20th - 24th, the Zhi khro ritual
  • 5th month: 1st -8th, Kun bzang. Since 28 families of Ser kywa village live as nomades in the Srin po mountain area, quite far from the village, the Kun bzang ritual is held only once a year.
  • 9th month: 25th-30th, the propitiation of Drag btsan.
  • 10th month: 8th-15th, the liturgy of Khro bo with the ’cham dance on the 14th.

In addition to the above rituals, there is a custom known as tsho mthun, “agreement between villages”, according to which certain rituals are held collectively by two villages.

These rituals include:

  1. Khro bo from the 25th to the 30th day of the 4th month, and the sTong gsum ’khrugs pa’i yo bcos, dGra bla’i dpung stod, Drug cu’i gdon sel and Rlung rta’i gar ’dzugs from the 1st to the 4th day of the 5th month held jointly by the Bon dkar and Yag nyes villages.
  2. sPyi ’dul, together with the sTong gsum ’khrugs pa’i yo bcos, Drug cu’i gdon sel, dGra bla’i dpung stod and Rlung rta’i gar ’dzugs, from the 5th to the 13th day of the 5th month.

12. The local community

The lay community consists of four main villages which may be subdivided into fifteen branch villages:

  1. Bon dkar comprising five branch villages: Srog tsha with ten families, Phar rka with eight families, Mar rka with eight families, La kha with eleven families, and So tshang with fifteen families.
  2. Slog brgya comprising three branch villages: Slog brgya with sixteen families, Shi glo’u tshang with six families and A yag tshang with five families.
  3. Se skong tshang comprising five branch villages: Hor tshang with 4 families, gDung tshang with six families, Bya brgya tshang with nine families, sNgo rgya tshang with three families and Nag rgya tshang with 2 families.
  4. Yag nyes tshang comprising two branch villages: Yag nyes tshang with eighteen families and Bon nag tshang with sixteen families.

There are altogether one hundred and thirty-seven families and eight hundred and thirty people. Ser kywa village is mainly a Bon po village with the exception of nine families which are rNying ma pa. There is also a dGe lugs pa monastery named Ser kywa nearby although there are no dGe lugs pa families living in the village.

13. Local festivals

The la btsas of the local deity Bla ri btsan gyi phye ma rnga rdung was built with the instructions given by Bon brgya Trulku, 2 km from the gsas khang, and propitiated on the day 9th day of the 5th month by the Bonpo, rNying ma pa and dGe lugs pa communities together. The la btsas of Bon dkar is located 15 km from the gsas khang, on top of Mount Srin po’i pad ma dbang rgyal. It was built by Rig ’dzin So lha khyab ril, and is propitiated on 15th day of the 6th month by the Bon dkar village.

14. Occupation of the local people



(1) Interviews

In autumn of 1996 with Kun bzang and other practitioners.

(2) Texts
  1. TsGLNy
  2. KhKRL

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.