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.

dPal yul County

(148) lCang lung Monastery

1. Name

The monastery’s full name is gTer lhung lcang lung or lCang lung gYung drung mthong grol gling.

2. Location

The monastery is located at the foot of Mount Ka ye rgyal mo facing Dis mgo village in gTer lhung (gTer lung) valley in gTer lhung district, which is located 75 km northeast of Palyul, the county seat. It takes around one hour on horseback from the county town to the monastery.

3. History

According to oral tradition, following a prophecy, Nam mkha’ lhun grub, a master of the Wa zha tribe, left Central Tibet and travelled to the east of mDo khams, and founded a monastery at mGo ti sgang. His youngest son, gYung drung dbang ldan, founded the original lCang lung Monastery at a place in gTer lhung valley where he discovered a chest containing a bse ru’i ra, “rhinoceros horn”, and that, as a result, became known as bSe ru’i mgo.

Following is a list of the monastery’s masters:

  1. gYung drung dbang ldan
  2. gYung drung lhun grub
  3. gYung drung bstan rgyal
  4. Nam mkha’ lhun grub,
  5. Blo gros g-yung drung
  6. bsTan pa dbang rgyal
  7. Kun bzang rgyal mtshan
  8. mKhas grub rgyal mtshan
  9. Rin chen dbang ldan
  10. gYung drung dbang rgyal
  11. Nam mkha’ bzang po
  12. bSod nams dbang rgyal
  13. bSod nams bzang po
  14. lHun grub tshul khrims
  15. mChog dga’
  16. Yon tan rin chen
  17. Rin chen
  18. bSod nams g-yung drung
  19. Kun bzang rgyal mtshan
  20. gYung drung rnam rgyal
  21. rNam ’joms
  22. gYung drung lha mo
  23. Ya ma rgyal
  24. bsTan ’dzin
  25. mKhas btsun Bon dbyings rdo rje
  26. Tshe dbang g-yung drung
  27. Rab brtan shes rab
  28. bsTan ’dzin dbang rgyal
  29. Rang lta rin chen
  30. Kun bzang rdo rje

This list is taken from a history of the monastery entitled lCang lung dgon, MS, unfortunately no dates are given. The oral accounts of many of these masters that I heard from the local population are also difficult to date. The succession of the masters before gYung drung rnam rgyal, the 20th in the lineage, was hereditary. The masters from the 21st to the 24th is unknown. From the time of mKhas btsun Bon dbyings rdo rje, the 25th master in the lineage, succession by reincarnation was adopted.

mKhas btsun Bon dbyings rdo rje defeated a master called dBra sras in a debate and thus won the estime of the royal family of sDe dge who bestowed lands on him, and appointed him as a prelate at the court.

The monastery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and was rebuilt by the following monks of the monastery:

mKhan Sangs rgyas tshe brtan, ’Chi med rgyal mtshan, the reincarnation of Rab brtan shes rab, Bla ma ’od zer, bKra shis mgon, Rig ’dzin rdo rje, and Rang rig.

4. Hierarchical system

  • dgon bdag
  • one dbu mdzad
  • one dge skos
  • three spyi ba (gnyer ba)
  • two mchod dpon

All the incumbents are replaced every three years.

5. Current number of monks

There are thirty novices and monks altogether.

6. Current education

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

7. Educational exchange

Traditionally, the monastery had very close ties with sMan ri in gTsang, but is now closer to Shar rdza Hermitage in sDe dge.

8 / 9. Rituals

Kun rig (ten days), dbyar mchod (twenty-one days), Phur pa (ten days), Me tog mchod pa (seven days), sgrib sbyang (five days), smyung gnas (eighteen days), dbyar gnas (fifty-three days), dgu gtor (seven days), Ma rgyud (five days).

10. Books held in the monastery

The monastery has copies of both the Bonpo and Buddhist Kanjur and Tenjur as well as the collected works of the following masters: Shar rdza bKra shis rgyal mtshan, Kun grol ’Ja’ tshon snying po, Klong chen rab ’byams, and ’Jigs med gling pa.

11. Income and expenses

The monastery depends on offerings. The monks provide their own food.

12. Local community

The local lay community of the monastery consists of three villages: gYu mgo with twenty families, Chu phyar with twenty families, and Til mgo with thirty families. In other villages there is sDong thog with thirty-four families and sBas gong with seventeen families who were converted to the rNying ma pa tradition. In these villages, the Bonpo practitioners perform the ritual called gsol kha for the families, but for funerary rites the people call upon the monks of the rNying ma pa monastery.

13. Local festivals

Mount Ka ye rgyal mo, situated behind the monastery is believed to be a holy mountain blessed by the goddess Byams ma. It was “opened” (gnas sgo phyed pa) by ’Jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse dbang po and Kong sprul Yon tan rgya mtsho. Its circumambulation (in the Bonpo way) by the local people takes place on the 15th day of the 4th month.

14. Occupation of the local population

Farming supplemented by animal husbandry


(1) Interviews

In autumn of 1997 with the following monks at the monastery: Ye shes Tshe ring (b.1949), bSod nams chos ’phel (b.1923) and dKon mchog (b.1933)


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.