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.

Nyag rong rdzong

(157) Mi nub Monastery

1. Name

The full name of the monetary is dPal ldan mi nub g-yung drung gling.

2. Location

The monastery is located in Mi nub village, at the foot of Mount sBas gnas gnam lcabs yang rdzong in A ’dzul valley of Nyag rong. The village belongs to Shod ring Township which is 6 km south of the county town of Nyag rong. It takes two hours from the Township to climb through a hill to the village.

The monastery is considered to be the residence of Khod spungs Blo gros thogs med (1280-1337)22 who was a famous figure as a rediscoverer of gter ma texts in the history of Bon religion. His biography contains a list of gter ma texts that he rediscovered. After his life-story, there is also another chapter entitled gDung rabs so so’i lo rgyus cung zad smos pa (p.28a) which records the names of the masters who were close to Khod spungs Blo gros thogs med. It is just a list of names without dates:

  1. Blo gros rgyal mtshan, a lay master who lived at Gong shel brag dmar phug. He founded a college for lay tantrics of Bonpo at mChog dge and had many disciples. Towards the end of his life, he went to ’Du ra mdo in Me nyag where executed the ritual of sa ’dul for the site of ’Du ra Monastery (No. 165). He died when he was 63.
  2. rNam dag gtsug phud, a son of Khod spungs Blo gros thogs med. He went to gYas ru dben sa Monastery in gTsang to study, and was the first monk in the lineage. He gave teachings in sBa zhabs brag dkar hermitage, ’Dra yul chu mig ljongs, dGe bshes khog, Khro skyabs and Cog tse. He died at rGyal mo dmu rdo in rGyal rong.23
  3. sGrub gshen sNang ldan was born at sBa zhabs gnas and lived at Sha ra thang in Nyag rong as a lay master. mNyam med Shes rab rgyal mtshan (1356-1415) became a pupil of him and gave all important teachings to him such as Tshe dbang bya ri ma and Khyung dmar. He died when he was 71.
  4. Grub chen Khyung rgod, a lay master and a son of Blo gros rgyal mtshan. His real name was Khyung gsas bdud ’joms. He learnt religion from his father. He was believed to have obtained the “rainbow body”. He died at 55.

Then there were the thirteen masters in the same lineage:

  1. Nam mkha’ g-yung drung, a son of Grub chen Khyung rgod. He traveled extensively and gave teachings in the rGyal rong area. He died at 60 in ’Dra yul;
  2. Seng ge blo gros, a son of Nam mkha’ g-yung drung. He learnt religion from his father and gave teachings in ’Dra yul and died when he was 63.
  3. ’Dul ba rgyal mtshan, a son of Seng ge blo gros. He studied Bon under his father and then went to sMan ri Monastery (No.1) to study under the feet of Rin chen rgyal mtshan, the fifth abbot of the monastery. Since he became the religious teacher of the king of Khro chen, he spent years at mTsho mtho Monastery (No.188). He had many disciples there although his residence was in Nyag rong. He died when he was 60 at bZhag ra lha rtse hermitage in Me nyag.
  4. gSang ba mchog ldan was a lay master. He learnt religion from his uncle ’Dul ba rgyal mtshan, and went into retreat for twelve years on Mount Blon po skos yag in Nyag rong. He died when he was 55.
  5. A shar blo gros, a son of gSang ba mchog ldan. He entered sMan ri Monastery and studied under bSod nams ye shes. He died when he was 70.
  6. bsTan pa rgyal mtshan, a son of Khod spungs Gu ru. The latter was a descendant of Grub chen khyung rgod. He followed A shar blo gros and upheld both teachings and lineage. He became also a disciple of a Sa skya bdag chen and lCags mdud ’brug mo rdzong in Nyag rong. He traveled in rGyal rong and Me nyag to practise meditation and became very famous. He produced many sons. They were divided into three groups: Khod spungs sKos yag pa, Yo kyun pa, and Mi nub tshang. He died when he was 60.
  7. rJe bthun mgon po was a lay master. He studied under his father and Tshul khrims ’od zer who was a descendant of Byang ba khro tshang. He had a close relationship with dBra tshang, the chief family in rDza khog of sDe dge and also with the Buddhists in his area. He had a lot of disciples in rDza khog and Tre hor.24 He died in Brag dmar hermitage in Nyag rong.
  8. rGyal ba rin chen, a son of rJe btsun mgon po. He was a lay master, but attended many monasteries for studying and practising. He died when he was 53.
  9. rNam rgyal grags pa, a son of sNgags chung and a brother of rJe btsun mgon po. He was a lay master and lived in Brag dmar mgo in Nyag rong. He spent many years in rGyal rong and died when he was 40.
  10. Rin chen lhun grub, a son of rNam rgyal grags pa. He was a lay master and studied under his father and ’Dra bla gYung drung rgyal mtshan. He lived at sBa zhabs brag dkar hermitage and traveled and taught in rDza khog, rNga khog and rGyal rong. He died when he was 83.
  11. gYung drung rnam rgyal, a son of Rin chen lhun grub. He was a lay master who traveled extensively in rGyal rong and died when he was 45.
  12. gYung drung bstan ’dzin, a son of gYung drung rnam rgyal. He was a monk and took up ressidence in Zhu tshang Monastery for many years where he gave teachings. He initiated founding several monasteries in rGyal rong. He moved to Klu ’bum Monastery (No.153), but the present biography does not mention it. He died when he was 70.
  13. Nyi ma dbang ldan, a son of Jo sras. The latter was a member of the Khod spungs family. Apart from Bonpo teachings, he also practised rNying ma pa teachings and had very close relationship with the rNying ma pa. He became the representative of Su la lineage which had a long line of teachers that ended with Nam mkha’ skyabs and brTson ’grus bzang mo. The lineage of Khod spungs then became known as Su la tshang. After these thirteen masters of the Khod spungs lineage, we know only the names of their successors and it would be too cumbersome to give them all here.

A shar Blo gros, the 5th master, came from mChog dge Monastery to Mi nub bco brgyad thang and founded a small monastery there. The date of foundation is unknown. However, now nothing remains there apart from a stupa, a tsha tsha khang and a piece of land which now belongs to the monastery called A shar zhing. According to a brief history of the monastery provided by the monastery25 there was a master of the Khod spungs lineage called Mi nub Shes rab rin chen, but in the biography of Khod spungs Blo gros thogs med he is not mentioned. He is said to have moved the monastery to the present site and built an assembly hall with four pillars. The same Sources also states that his brother bsTan ’dzin was a master in the monastery.

gSang sngags gling pa, Shar rdza bKra shis rgyal mtshan and dBra ston bsKal bzang bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan visited the monastery and gave teachings there. In the 1980s, the monastery got permission to be rebuilt.

4. Hierarchical system

  • two dbu mdzad (dbu mdzad and dbu skyor)
  • four dge skos
  • two mchod dpon
  • one bdag gnyer

For the dbu mdzad, one has to be first dbu skyor for three years first, then the dbu mdzad for another three years. The bdag gnyer stays for nine years. The rest changes every three years.

6. Current number of monks

There are fifty-nine monks in the monastery.

7. Current education

Young monks follow old monks to learn teachings and practices. They go to Shar rdza Hermitage (No.138) to follow further courses and receive ordination.

8 / 9. Rituals

Four types of rituals are performed: the smon lam from the 3rd to 12th of the first month; the observance of the smyung gnas fast from the 15th for few days; the ritual of three cycles: Khro bo, Phur pa and Me ri from the 20th to 30th of the twelfth month; the observance of dbyar gnas fast from the 14th of the sixth month for fifty days.

10. Books held in the monastery

The monastery has a complete set of Bonpo Kanjur and Katen, and a number of ritual texts such as that of sTag la, Khro bo, Phur pa and Me ri.

11. Income and expenses

The monks have to find their food by themselves; the expenses of the monastery depend on offerings of disciples.

12. Local community

The local villages are grouped into four communities (shog khag) who are described as the lha sde of the monastery: 1. Ri ’go village with twelve families, rTa dbye with one family. 2. Ri mda’ village with twelve families. 3. Yul lung village with twelve families; Zang mda’ village with four families; Mi nub village with eight families; Yul lung phug village with one family. 4. Shod ru village with thirteen families; Bu bzhi with one family and Thog bi with two families.

13. Local festivals

A sacred mountain called sKyobs ’byin is situated in the south-west of the monastery. Both monks and lay people perform the circumambulation of the mountain on the occasion of the Dog Year called gnas ’dus. The master who “opened the door of holy mountain” (gnas sgo phye mkhan) was Khod spungs Blo gros thogs med.

14. Occupation of the local population



(1) Interviews

In autumn of 1997 with the following monks of the monastery: Tshe thar (b.1963), the present dge bskos of the monastery, gYung drung dbang rgyal (b.1969), Tshe dbang (b.1937), gDung dkar (b.1934) and lHa skyabs (b.1954)

(2) Texts
  1. KGLG, Vol.1, pp. 393-395


[22] ’Chi med ’gro ’dul khod spungs blo gros thogs med kyi skyes rabs dang ’brel ba’i don gyi rnam thar gdung rabs dang bcas pa rdzogs ldan sprin gyi rol mo by dBra ston sKal bzang bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan (1897-1959), block print. In this work, the author described the life of Khod spungs Blo gros thogs med to the time when he met bSod nams sgrol ma who became his wife at the age of twenty-five. Then the biography strangely ends without any reference to the second half of his life.
[23] ’Dra yul chu mig ljongs is a place in rTa’u County of dKar mdzes Prefecture in Sichuan Province. dGe bshes khog, Khro skyabs, Cog tse, and rGyal mo dmu rdo traditionally belong to the rGyal rong region. dGe bshes khog and rGyal mo dmu rdo are in Rong brag County of dKar mdzes Prefecture. Khro skyabs and Cog tse are in rNga pa Prefecture in Sichuan Province.
[24] Tre hor is an area in dKar mdzes County in dKar mdzes Prefecture.
[25] Mi nub dgon pa’i lo rgyus, the author is unknown, 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.