History of Tibet
Around 40 million years ago, movement in the earth’s crust formed the Himalayas and a huge, high-altitude plateau that came to be known as Tibet that is situated between the two ancient civilizations of China and India.
“Shang Shung Kingdom” was built by people who migrated from the eastern Tibet region into western Tibet. Guge was the capital of “Shang Shung Kingdom”. “Shang Shung culture” was the culture originally associated with the Bön religion, that had influenced the philosophies and practices of Tibetan Buddhism and the original ruler of central and western Tibet in ancient times.
By the first century BC, another Tibetan kingdom arose in the Yarlung valley. Drigum Tsenpo – the king of Yarlung Kingdom, attempted to remove the influence of “Shang Shung”. But the attempt failed, “Shang Shung” continued its dominance of the region until it was annexed by King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century.
AD -629 Reign of Namri Songtsen
Namri Songtsen was the leader of a clan that defeated all his neighboring clans and co-founded the Tibet Empire together with his son Songtsen Gampo.
During this time, two embassies were sent to China in 608 and 609 (Tang dynasty), marking the appearance of Tibet.
AD 620-650 – Songtsen Gampo
Songtsen Gampo, the son of the Yarlung king of Namri Songtsen, united the Yarlung River Valley and founded the Tibetan Empire. He married Chinese and Nepalese princesses and Buddhism was introduced to Tibet for the first time.
AD 650-676 Reign of Mangsong Mangtsen
The second emperor of Tibetan Empire was Mangsong Mangtsen, but the real power was left in the hands of the minister.
AD677-704: Reign of Khri ‘dus-srong btsan
The annals of Tang Dynasty says that Khri ‘dus-srong btsan was eight years old in 679 when he began his reign. Due to his youth, he was enthroned with the minister Khri-’bring, to act as regent.
AD704-754:Reign of Mes-ag-tshoms
He was officially enthroned in 712. He is usually known by his nickname “Mes-ag-tshoms” (‘Old Hairy’), he married another Tang dynasty Princess of “Jincheng”, whom supported of Buddhism, and five Buddhist temples were built during that time.
AD756-797 or 804: Reign of Trisong Detsän
Trisong Detsan was one of the Three Dharma Kings of Tibet, he invited two Indian scholars toTibet, established Nyingma , or ‘Ancient’ school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Three Dharma Kings were Songtsän Gampo, Trisong Detsen, and Ralpacan.
AD797-799: Reign of Mune Tsenpo
AD799-815: Reign of Sadnalegs
Mahayana Buddhism is established as the dominant doctrine during the Great Debate of Samye.
AD815-838: Reign of Ralpacan
He is referred to as the ‘Son of God’, and was a great supporter of Buddhism and invited many craftsmen, scholars and translators to Tibet from neighbouring countries. Buddhism had developed well during this time, and also the Tibetan Empire reached its greatest extent including parts of China, India, Nepal, Khotan, Uyghur territory, and almost all of modern Gansu.
AD838-842: Reign of Langdarma
Langdarma was the last emperor of the unified Tibetan empire, had been anti-Buddhist and a follower of the Bön religion. He baned Buddhism when Bon adherents react against the religion. Langdarma was assassinated by a monk in AD842.
AD842-1247: Tibet divided
Upon the death of Langdarma, a civil war ensued, Tibet brok into several small kindoms, and Buddhism had survived surreptitiously in the region of Kham. Second Diffusion revival of Buddhism begins with invitation of Indian scholar Atisha to Guge. Some young people were sent to study Buddhism, and returned to central Tibet, in 1073, Saky monastery was built, in the cotinuily 2 centuries, the Sakya monastery grew to a position of prominence in Tibetan life and culture. Meanwhile, The Karmapa Sect of Tsurphu Monastery was founded in 1155.
AD1236-1578: Mongol’s influence ad Tibetan Buddhism
At the end of the 1230s, the Mongols turned their attention to Tibet. At that time, Mongol armies had already conquered Northern China, much of Central Asia, and as far as Russia and modern Ukraine. In 1247 appointed Sakya the Mongolian viceroy for Central Tibet, though the eastern provinces of Kham and Amdo remained under direct Mongol rule. When Kublai Khan founded the Yuan Dynasty in 1271, Tibet became a part of it.
During this time, Tsongkhapa Lobsang Dragpa found Gelukpa sect, also known as Yellow Hat Religion, and the first monastery of Gelukpa of Samye monastery was built; continuly the others of Ganden, Drepung, and Sera monasteries were built near Lhasa.
In 1578, The abbot of Drepung, Sonam Gyatso, receives the Mongol title of Dalai Lama. The title ‘Dalai Lama’ has traditionally been translated as the Ocean of Wisdom.
16th and 17th centuries
The first Europeans of Portuguese Jesuit missionaries arrived in Tibet. They were allowed to build a church and to introduce Christian belief by guge King, whom diluted the thriving of Gelukpa and to consolidate his position. But all missionaries were expelled at lama’s insistence in 1745.
Mongolian king of Güshi Khan acted as a “Protector of the Gelukpa sect ofTibetan Buddhism“ and helped the Fifth Dalai Lama to establish himself as the highest spiritual and political authority in Tibet and destroyed any potential rivals. The construction of the Potala Palace began under the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama.
The Qing put Amdo under their rule in 1724, and incorporated eastern Kham into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728.
In 1751, Emperor Qianlong installed the Dalai Lama as both the spiritual leader and political leader of Tibet leading the government, namely Kashag.
The 1791 Nepalese invaded Tibet, with the assistance of Tibetan troops, Qing dynasty’s army defeated Nepalese troops.
In 1792, the Qing dynasty emperor issued a 29-point decree which tighten Qing control over Tibet. The Dalai and Panchen Lamas were no longer allowed to petition the Chinese Emperor directly but could only do so through the Ambans.
By the mid 19th Century Manchu power was weakened. Fears of Russians wanted to control Tibet as a gateway to India. In 1904 a British force invaded Tibet and reached Lhasa and the 13th Dalai Lama fled to Mongolia and returned in 1907 when peace concluded between Tibet and the British.
The British invasion alarmed the Manchu rulers in China. The Qing dynasty government in Beijing then appointed Zhao Erfeng, the Governor of Xining, Army Commander of Tibet to reintegrate Tibet into China. He was sent in 1905 on a punitive expedition. His troops destroyed a number of monasteries in Kham and Amdo, and a process of reintegrate Tibet into China was begun.
20th century -Present
The British invasion occurred in 1904, its influence continued to the end of the Qing dynasty. In 1947, the British withdrew from India. In 1949, Chinese government announced that Tibet was part of China, then PLA launched into Tibet.
In 1965, Tibet becomes an Autonomous Region of China.
During China’s Cultural Revolution, Buddhist monasteries in Tibet suffered damage – either through outright destruction or benign neglect.
Since the early 1980s, Deng-Xiao-Ping’s new policy of tolerance led to the rebuilding of many monasteries and the revival of religious practices. Tibetans have been allowed to reactivate and repair surviving monasteries:
In 1979, the Jorkhang temple, the most sacred shrine in central, re-opened for worship.
In 1980, the first organized group tours arrived in Tibet.
In 1984, Tibet finally is opened to independent foreign travelers.
From 1990 to present – Tibet opened to tourists arriving from China and overland from Nepal.