Bon Religion is the native religion of Tibet; it is considered the earliest religion in Tibetan history. Its worship objects include various natural objects such as sky, earth, sun and moon, thunder and lightning, hail, mountains, stones, grass and beasts, as well as gods and ghosts in nature.
The word “Bon” of “Primitive Bon” means of repeated chanting, which refers to the repeated chanting of various primitive Bon mantras,
The word “Bon” of “Yungdrung Bon” is Tibetan word which was paraphrased from the zhang zhung text “gyer”.
Add a “Po” after “Bon” (Bonpo), it means “belief” or people who participate in various primitive beliefs.
As early as the ancient times, various primitive beliefs prevailed on the Tibet Plateau, that is, the polytheistic religion collectively known as Primitive Bon (Srid Par Gyud Kyi Bon).
There are more than 30 primitive beliefs such as “Magic Bon”, “Zan Bon”, etc, which had many followers.
The supreme god of the Primitive Bon is the “Ye Xian”, which has the same properties as the ruler of the universe in most religions with gods.
“Ye” means primitive or origin, “Xian” means sacred and also means ancestor.
“Ye Xian” is regarded as a symbol of sacred ancestors, peaceful and giving believers the meaning of final destination.
Primitive Bon religion is essentially a special belief that all things have animism,
Later, after Shenrab Miwo reformed the Primitive Bon , he founded the Yungdrung Bon . Gradually it was recognized and accepted by the people, and it began to spread widely.
It started from the animism that worshiped the sky, earth, sun, moon, stars, thunder and lightning, mountains and rivers and other natural phenomena. After a long period of development, a religion with many philosophical scriptures and systematic canons and etiquette has been formed.
<Rgyal Rabs Gsal Ba’i Me Long> records: “From Nyatri Tsenpo to Khri sgra pung tsan, all the twenty-six generations of Tibetan used Bon religion to protect state affairs.”
As the native culture before Buddhism was introduced into Tibet, traces of Bon culture run through all aspects of Tibet. “From production to life, from folk customs to beliefs, religious activities and rituals such as worshipping mountain gods and mountain kora all originated from Bon culture.
Because the traditional hat of Yungdrung Bon, which was “dkar mo rtse rgyal“, is white. Therefore, Yongzhong Bon was once called “white hat Bon” in its early period
In the later stages of the development of Yungdrung Bon, its believers wore black scarves on their heads, so they were also called “black sect religion (nag chos)” by Tibetan Buddhist followers. Since the term “black sect” in Tibetan means “evil sect”, so that Bon believers think that “black sect” is a hostile title.
The formation and development process of Bon religion can be roughly divided into two major stages, namely primitive Bon religion (srid par gyud kyi bon) and Yungdrung Bon religion;
And Yungdrung Bon is divided into the early period of Yungdrung Bon, and the later period of Yungdrung Bon which Influenced each other with Tibetan Buddhism and became the Bon religion today eventually
Primitive Bon (srid par gyud kyi bon)
The primitive Bon religion was actually the budding stage of Bon religion. This period is about from the 1st king Nyatri Tsenpo (about the 4th century BC) appeared in Tibetan history to the 8th King Drigum Tsenpo (about the 2nd century BC). This period is also known as the “Seven Kings of Tianchi” or “gnam-gyi-khri-bdun”.
The early period of Yungdrung Bon
It was about from the 8th king of Drigum Tsenpo (about 2nd century BC) to the 33rd king of Songtsen Gampo (7th century AD). This period is an important stage for the qualitative change of Yungdrung Bon religion, which can be described as a period of great change and great development. This is mainly attributed to the enlightened measures taken by the 8th king of Drigum Tsenpo
The later period of Yungdrung Bon
Songtsen Gampo introduced Buddhism from Nepal and Tang Dynasty of China, and this occurrence can be regarded as the dividing line between the early and late Yungdrung Bon.
Yungdrung Bon religion of this period was called “Ju Bon” by Tibetan Buddhism.
In Tibetan, ” Ju” has many meanings such as translation, interpretation, and compilation, while “Bon” is the abbreviation of Yungdrung Bon religion. The word “Ju bon” means “translated Bonpoism” or “modified Bonpoism”.
At this stage, Yungdrung Bon religion introduced a large number of doctrines from Buddhism, enriched its own theories, and became a formed religious system.
The difference between Yungdrung Bon religion and Primitive Bon religion
The birthplace of primitive Bon religion is unknown；
Yungdrung Bon originated in the area of “Kailash Mountain” and ” Manasa Sarovar Lake” of the ancient Zhang Zhung kingdom.
Yungdrung Bon religion was founded by Shenrab Miwo, which is a kind of inheritance that combines the primitive Bon and the ancient Zhang Zhung culture.
The use of “Bon”
People often use “Bon” as the abbreviation of Yungdrung Bon religion. And also use “Bon” as the abbreviation of Primitive Bon religion
So that the way to use this abbreviation can easily confuse “Primitive Bon” and ” Yungdrung Bon”
Symbol of Yungdrung Bon
The symbol of Bon religion is “Yungdrung physhen“, which is a symbol formed by connecting two left-handed “卍” characters; its sign is opposite to the direction of “卐”.
The literal interpretation of ” Yungdrung physhen ” is:
“Yung” means that the truthfulness is eternal (not born or destroyed);
“Drung” means that the Secularity is everlasting;
“Phy” means to reduce evil views;
“Shen” means to introduce liberation.
The symbols of Yungdrung at both ends of Physhen symbolize Exotoric Buddhism and Tantric, the two lotus flowers at the center of the junction symbolize the supreme perfection.
Swastika “卍” is a very common mascot in Tibet. “卍” often appears together with “卐” and ” vishva-vajra” in the thangka pattern under the seat of Buddha of Tibetan Buddhism.
“卍” not only exists in Tibet and zhang zhung area, but also exists in the civilization of other places.
With reference to Indian culture, this left-handed Yungdrung symbol may come from the word “A” in the ancient Pali alphabet.
The same is true in zhang zhung language that the left-handed Yungdrung symbol is also very similar to the word “A” in its letters.
In addition, the symbol of Yungdrung also exists in the vase pattern of ancient Greece, and there is also such a symbol on a cultural relic in the museum in Paestum museum of Italy.
Therefore, it is difficult to easily draw conclusions and say that certain things belong to a particular culture.
However, one thing is certain that long before the introduction of Indian Buddhism to Tibet, there were many interpretations of this symbol in the scriptures of Yungdrung Bon religion. Therefore, it is not objective to say that “the Bon religion uses the “卍” as a sign which is the opposite of the “卐” in order to fight against Indian Buddhism.
The core idea of Yungdrung Bon religion is ” Bon” which has many interpretations.
According to Yungdrung Bon religion record: “The word ” Bon” contains infinite meanings, that is, it is recorded in the Hetuvidys and prajnaparamita of Yungdrung Bon that “Bon” is of maintaining its own self; or capture its self-nature, which has eight categories