History of Buddhism in Tibet.
The Yarlung Empire
It all started in the Yarlung valley. This is where the first civilization started in Tibet. In the legends of Tibet it is said that the first Tibet Buddha sculptures fell on the roof of Yumbulagang. This was during the days of the 28th king of Tibet in the third century. In those days there were a lot of conquests. In the 6th century a large part of mid Tibet was one. The 33th king of Tibet Songtsen Gampo (+/- 618-649) Was very keen in conquering as much as possible. His armies ranged from northern India to the Tang Dynasty in China . Because of the thread Nepal and China offered Songtsen Gampo a bride to keep the peace. China offered Princess Wen Cheng and Nepal offered Princess Bhrikuti. Because of these marriages the Buddhism was brought into the royal families in Tibet. The princesses brought a number of important statues and other religion objects to Tibet to prolong there own religion. In this way the whole royal family was influenced. They were also responsible for the founding of the Jokhang and the Ramoche temples. In the Songtsen Gampo period there was also a fort build at the location were the Potala Palace is now.
During the same period the Tibetan script was developed to translate the Buddhist scripts, writing the law and lay down the first Tibet history. This Tibetan script was developed by Tunmi Sangbuza. During the 2 centuries Tibet went on fighting and two treaties were signed with China. One in 783 to recognizing new Tibetan borders and one during the reign of King Tritsug Detsen Ralpachen (817-836) This last treaty was written down in three pillars. On was located in China. One at the border and one was put outside the Jokhang temple in Lhasa. On the pillars was written that China would accept the border as it was and Tibet would not try to conquer new territories in China. The Pillar in Lhasa still stands.
Buddhism began to be important for the Tibetan people under the reign of King Trisong Detsen (755-797). In those days the Samye Monastery was founded. In this monastery they started to translate the Buddhist scripts and they started training the Tibetan monks.
In the years that followed the real Tibetan Buddhism was founded. The BÅn faith played an important role. The kings that followed did not rule very long. They all died an unnatural death. From 797 to 842 there were three successors.
The Second Diffusion of Buddhism
From 842 the Tibetans stopped fighting. They turn to their Buddhism. In the days when in the surrounding countries of Tibet Buddhism declined in Tibet the people became more and more religious. One of the reasons of this growth could be the collapse of the central power in Tibet. In that way the Monasteries became more important. During this period there were a great many movements and a large increase of monasteries. The period is described as the Second Diffusion of the Dharma . During this period the Indian influence came back. Many Tibetans went for study to India. In that way new orders came alive. For instance the Kagyupa and the Milarepa. In the mean time the Kon family founded a monastery that would later become the Sakyapa order.
The Sakyapa order and the Mongols
The first chapels of the Sakyapa order were founded in 1073 by Kon Chogyal Pho . These first chapels were later to become the Sakya Monastery. Seat of the Sakyapa sect.
Genghis Khan , the leader of the Mongols was conquering a lot at that moment and in 1239 his son Godan Khan invaded Tibet. He came very close to Lhasa. Godan ordered Sakya's leader to come to his court at Lanzhou. It was not before 1247 that the two would meet but from the moment they met Godam was so impressed of the Sakya lama that he gave him a temporal authority over all Tibet. This was the beginning of a special relationship between the two parties that lasted many years. Tibet was organized into 13 administrative districts. This ruling of Tibet on behalf of the Mongolian emperors lasted up to 1354.
The Phagmo Drupa Dynasty and the Kings of Tsang.
There were two major reasons why the Sakya leadership was coming to an end. One of them was that the Mongol Yuan Dynasty was placed under the Chinese Ming Dynasty. In that way the Sakyapa lama's had no-one to protect them anymore. The second reason was that the Phagmo Drupa had grown to be an important player over the years. In 1354 the Sakya troops were defeated by the Drupa troops. In this way Tibet got on it's own again. There were twelve people in a row ruling over Tibet form 1354 to 1435. The end of this Phagmo Drupa Dynasty came when the Rinpung princes of Tsang took over power. She was followed by a number of princesses and Kings. This period lasted until 1642.
The rise of the Gelupa and the Dalai Lama
During the Phagmo Drupa Dynasty a very special Lama grew up. His name was Tsong Khapa. In the early 15th century he founded the well known monastery of Ganden. His pupils again founded monasteries like Sera, Drepung and Tashilhumpo. These monasteries grew very quick and had a lot of influence. Tibet was to get a special new order that was given the name of Gadenpa (after the name of Tsong Khapa's monastery) but later it was renamed the Gelugpa.
Again the Mongols conquered Tibet and the third Galugpa leader again managed to get a patron-priest relationship with Altan Khan this time. This leader originally believed in the Tibetan religion and in this way a large amount of the Mongolian people became Galugpa followers. From Altan Khan the third reincarnation of Tsongkhapa named Sonam Gyatso became the title of Ta-le (Dalai) which means Ocean. Altan Kahn meant Ocean of Wisdom when he gave the title. The title was also given to the previous predecessors of Sonam Gyatso an din that way he became the third Dalai Lama. The Mongolians and the Galugpa became very good partners and the threat towards the Tsang kings and the Karmapa of Tsurphu Monastery became extra tension when the grandson of Altan Khan turned out to be the fourth Dalai Lama. The Dreprung and Sera Monasteries were attacked and the fourth Dalai Lama fled. He died at an age of 25 in 1616 and he was probably poisoned.
The fifth Dalai Lama
The fifth Dalai Lama got the support of the Mongolians again. In 1621 the Mongolians planned an invasion but this invasion was prevented by the Panchen Lama of Tashilhumpo Monastery. He told the Mongolians that there were groups of the Gelugpa order that would rather be under leadership of the kings of Tsang then to start a conflict.
The Gelugpa however attacked the Tsang King and the king was captured and executed
The fifth Dalai Lama was a very strong Dalai Lama. He was able to rule by himself witout much help from the Mongolians. In the year 1656 the Dalai Lama controlled everything between Kailash in the west and Kham in the east. Tibet was unified and the fifth Dalai Lama was both spiritual and temporal leader. He controlled also the Kadampa monasteries and took a lot of their riches. But after that he let them re-establish . This all lead to the situation that everyone became monastic minded and a new period started.
In Lhasa they started working on a proper building for all this power. The head of the Tibetan state would need a palace. That is how the start of the Potala palace began.