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Tibetan Buddhism



The 'Brug-pa bKa'-brgyud-pa share their main doctrinal heritage with the other bKa'-brgyud-pa schools (see bKa'-brgyud-pa).  They were particularly famed for their emphasis on meditation and the yogic traditions, and many of their great masters have been wandering yogins. They have special presentations of their meditation teachings called the "Six Equal Tastes" and the "Seven Auspicious Teachings".


Gling-ras-pa Padma rDo-rje, a student of Phag-mo-gru who had received teaching from sGam-po-pa (see bKa'-brgyud-pa), founded the monastery of Rva-lung (c.1180), and his successor, gTsang-pa rGya-ras Ye-shes rDo-rje (1161-1211) established the 'Brug-pa school.  The rGya family supplied the head lamas of the school until Padma dKar-po (1527-1592), the second incarnation of rGyal-ba'i dBang-po Kun-dga' dPal-'byor, was accepted by the entire 'Brug-pa establishment.  Padma dKar-po was a very renowned scholar; he founded the monastery of gSang-sngags Chos-gling at Byar in Southern Tibet and transferred the seat of the order there.  After his death, a succession dispute led to the break off of the faction which became known as the Southern 'Brug, since they moved to Bhutan.  There, they established political control and 'Brug-pa bKa'-brgyud-pa Buddhism became the state religion, while the Northern 'Brug remained centred in Tibet, focused around the reincarnating rGyal-dbang 'Brug-chen.  They were not, however, organised in a very hierarchical manner: for example, a semi-autonomous branch was also established in Khams (Eastern Tibet) in the seventeenth century, around the incarnation line of the Khams-sprul.

Symbols The 'Brug-pa bKa'-brgyud-pa share most of their ritual symbolism with the other bKa'-brgyud-pa schools. The 'Brug-chen Rin-po-ches preserve tantric bone ornaments said to have been Naropa's, which they display in a special ritual. 

It is not possible to estimate numbers of followers since the Tibetan Buddhist schools do not demand exclusive allegiance.  However, the 'Brug-pa tradition was the established religion in the pre-modern Bhutanese state, and although there has been a separation of church and state since the establishment of the monarchy in 1907, its monastic centres there are still very strong and command considerable support.  Some himalayan areas such as Lahul had 'Brug-pa monasteries, which have been revitalised in the twentieth century, and this process is encouraged by the presence of exiled 'Brug-pa lamas in exile.  The present 'Brug-chen Rin-po-che has spent several years teaching in Ladakh, mainly based at the 'Brug-pa monastery of Hemis.  As the other Tibetan Buddhist schools, the Tibetan 'Brug-pas are involved in reconstructing monasteries in India and now in Tibet, and they have a significant following in Western countries and in parts of East Asia, such as Taiwan.

Main Centre

The present 'Brug-chen Rin-po-che's main monastic seat is his reconstructed monastery, gSang-sngags Chos-gling, in Darjeeling: Thubten Sangag Choeling Monastery, West Point, Darjeeling 734101, West Bengal, India.  The Khams branch of the 'Brug-pa have established their base in exile at the Khampa Gar Monastery, Tashi Jong, Himachal Pradesh, India.  The 'Brug-pa in Bhutan have many large monasteries.  The reincarnating line of lamas who formerly headed the Bhutanese branch is no longer recognised in Bhutan.  The elected head lama, Je Khenpo, is based  at Tashichodzong in the capital Thimphu, which is also the seat of the Bhutanese government.