|Emperor of Tibet|
|Died||797 (Aged 55)|
|Mother||sna-nam-bza' mang-po-rje bzhi-sting|
Trisong Detsen (Tibetan : ཁྲི་སྲོང་ལྡེ་བཙན, Wylie : khri srong lde btsan, Lhasa dialect : [ʈʂʰisoŋ tetsɛ̃] ) was the son of Me Agtsom, the 38th emperor of Tibet. He ruled from AD 755 until 797 or 804. Trisong Detsen was the second of the Three Dharma Kings of Tibet, playing a pivotal role in the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet and the establishment of the Nyingma or "Ancient" school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The empire Trisong Detsen inherited had declined somewhat from its greatest extent under the first Dharma King, Songtsen Gampo. Disintegration continued when, in 694, Tibet lost control of several cities in Turkestan and, in 703, Nepal broke into rebellion. Meanwhile, Arab forces vied for influence along the western border lands of the Tibetan empire.
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Trisong Detsen is very important to the history of Tibetan Buddhism as one of the three 'Dharma Kings' (Tibetan:chögyel) who established Buddhism in Tibet. The Three Dharma Kings were Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen, and Ralpacan.
The Skar-cung pillar erected by Sadnalegs (ruled c. 800-815) says that during the reign of Trisong Detsen, "shrines of the Three Jewels were established by building temples at the centre and on the borders, Bsam-yas in Brag-mar and so on".The first edict of Trisong Detsen already mentions a community of monks at Bsam-yas (Samye), consisting of the former army.
Trisong became emperor in 755 and, in post-imperial sources, is claimed to have invited Padmasambhava, Śāntarakṣita, Vimalamitra, and various other Indian teachers to come to Tibet to spread the latest understanding of the teaching. The two pandits began by establishing Samye as the first vihara in Tibet. Several Tibetans were eventually initiated as monks and a vast translation project was undertaken translating the Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Classical Tibetan.Yeshe Tsogyal, previously either the consort or wife of Trisong Detsen, became a great master after studying with Padmasambhava, and is considered the Mother of Buddhism.
The first documented dissemination of Chan Buddhism to Tibet, chronicled in what has become known as the Statements of the Sba Family, occurred in about 761 when Trisong Detsen sent a party to the Yizhou region to receive the teachings of Kim Hwasang, a Korean Chan master, who they encountered in Sichuan. The party received teachings and three Chinese texts from Kim, who died soon after.
Trisong Detsen patronised a second party to China in 763. This second expedition was headed by a high minister, Sba Gsalsnan. There is scholarly dissent about whom Gsalsnan encountered in Yizhou. Early scholarship considered Kim, but this had been revised to Baotang Wuzhu (714-774), head and founder of Baotang Monastery in Chengdu. Both Kim and Baotang Wuzhu were of the same school of Chan, the East Mountain Teaching.
Trisong Detsen, hosted a famous two-year debate from 792-794, known in Western scholarship as the "Council of Lhasa" (although it took place at Samye at quite a distance from Lhasa) outside the capital. He sponsored a Dharma debate between the Chan Buddhist Moheyan, who represented the third documented wave of Chan dissemination in Tibet, and the scholar Kamalaśīla, a student of Śāntarakṣita. Effectively the debate was between the Chinese and Indian Buddhist traditions as they were represented in Tibet.
Sources differ about both the nature of the debate as well as the victor. Stein (1972: p. 66-67) holds that Kamalaśīla disseminated a "gradualist approach" to enlightenment, consisting of purificatory sādhanā such as cultivating the pāramitās. Kamalashila's role was to ordain Tibetans as Buddhist monks and propagate Buddhist philosophy as it had flourished in India. Stein (1972: p. 66-67) holds that Kamalaśīla was victorious in the debate and that Trisong Detsän sided with Kamalaśīla.
Trisong Detsen is also traditionally associated with the construction of Boudhanath in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal.
The role of Padmasambhava on the other hand was to establish the teaching of Buddhist Tantra in Tibet. During the reign of Trisong Detsän the combined efforts of Padmasambhava, Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla established both the Indian Buddhist philosophical interpretation and Buddhist tantra in Tibet.
In 763 Trisong Detsen sent an army of 200,000 men to the border with Tang China, defeating the forces there and then continuing on to take Chang'an, the Tang Chinese capital, forcing Emperor Daizong of Tang to flee the capital.In 783 a peace treaty was negotiated between China and Tibet giving Tibet all lands in present-day Qinghai. The Tang Empire had declined greatly due to the An Lushan Rebellion which was finally quelled in 763.
The King also formed an alliance with Nanzhao in 778, joining forces to attack the Chinese in Sichuan.
Trisong Detsen next sought to expand westward, reaching the Amu Darya and threatening the Abbasid Caliph, Harun ar-Rashid. The Caliph was concerned enough to establish an alliance with the Chinese emperor. King Trisong Detsen would be preoccupied with Arab wars in the west, taking pressure off his Chinese opponents to the east and north, until his rule ended in 797.
Trisong Detsen had four sons: Mutri Tsenpo, Muné Tsenpo, Mutik Tsenpo, and Sadnalegs. The eldest son, Mutri Tsenpo, died early.
Trisong Detsen retired to live at the palace at Zungkar and handed power to his second son, Muné Tsenpo, in 797. From this point there is much confusion in the various historical sources. It seems there was a struggle for the succession after the death of Trisong Detsen. It is not clear when Trisong Detsen died, or for how long Mune Tsenpo reigned. The Testament of Ba , a Tibetan historical text which may date back to the 9th century, claims that Muné Tsenpo insisted that his father's funeral be performed according to Buddhist rather than traditional rites.
It is said that Mune Tsenpo was poisoned by his mother, who was jealous of his beautiful wife.
Whatever the case, both the Old Book of Tang and the Tibetan sources agree that, since Mune Tsenpo had no heirs, power passed to his younger brother, Sadnalegs, who was on the throne by 804 CE.
The other brother, Mutik Tsenpo, was apparently not considered for office as he had previously murdered a senior minister and had been banished to Lhodak Kharchu near the Bhutanese border.
| Emperor of Tibet |
r. 755 – 797 or 804
Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche , incarnated as a fully enlightened being, as foretold by Buddha Shakyamuni. Padmasambhava is considered the Second Buddha by the Nyingma school, the oldest Buddhist school in Tibet known as "the ancient ones". Around 767 he came to Tibet and helped construct Samye Monastery, the first Buddhist and Nyingma monastery in Tibet. Padmasambhava then revealed the Vajrayana of Tibetan Buddhism, with scholars, translators, and masters. His students in Tibet include the great master Yeshe Tsogyal and the "Twenty-Five King and Subjects".
Samye, full name Samye Mighur Lhundrub Tsula Khang and Shrine of Unchanging Spontaneous Presence is the first Tibetan Buddhist and Nyingma monastery built in Tibet, during the reign of King Trisong Deutsen. Shantarakshita began construction around 763, and Vajrayana founder Guru Padmasambhava tamed the local spirits for its completion in 779. The first Tibetan monks were ordained there. Samye was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution then rebuilt after 1988.
Songtsen Gampo, also Songzan Ganbu, was the 33rd Tibetan king and founder of the Tibetan Empire, and is traditionally credited with the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet, influenced by his Nepali consort Bhrikuti, of Nepal's Licchavi dynasty, as well as with the unification of what had previously been several Tibetan kingdoms. He is also regarded as responsible for the creation of the Tibetan alphabet and therefore the establishment of Classical Tibetan, the language spoken in his region at the time, as the literary language of Tibet.
Śāntarakṣita, was an important and influential Indian Buddhist philosopher, particularly for the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Śāntarakṣita was a philosopher of the Madhyamaka school who studied at Nalanda University under Jñānagarbha, and became the founder of Samye, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
Mutik Tsenpo or Murug Tsenpo is sometimes considered to have been one of the emperors of Tibet. This is, however, very questionable. Moreover, the whole period between the reigns of Trisong Detsen and Sadnalegs is very unclear, with several conflicting reports.
Muné Tsenpo was the 39th Emperor of Tibet. This period of Tibetan history, towards the end, and after the reign of Trisong Detsen is very murky and the sources give conflicting stories and dates.
The Tibetan Buddhist canon is a loosely defined collection of sacred texts recognized by various schools of Tibetan Buddhism, comprising the Kangyur or Kanjur and the Tengyur or Tanjur (Tengyur).
Heshang Moheyan was a late 8th century Buddhist monk associated with the East Mountain Teaching. Moheyan (摩訶衍) is a brief translation of Mahayana in Chinese, so the name literally means a Mahayana monk. He became famous for representing Chan Buddhism in the so called "Council of Lhasa," a debate between adherents of the Indian teachings of "gradual enlightenment" and the Chinese teachings of "sudden enlightenment," which according to tradition was won by the "gradual teachings."
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Ralpacan, born Tritsuk Detsen c. 806 CE according to traditional sources, was the 41st King of Tibet, ruling from the death of his father, Sadnalegs, in c. 815, until 838 CE. He is referred to as "son of God" in the Testament of Ba.
Sadnalegs or Tridé Songtsen, was the youngest son of King Trisong Detsen of Tibet.
Kim Hwasang, also known in Chinese as Wuxiang, was a Korean master of Chan Buddhism who lived in Sichuan, China, whose form of Chan teaching was independent of East Mountain Teaching and Huineng. His teachings were amongst the first streams of Chan Buddhism transmitted to Tibet.
sNub-Ben Namkha'i Nyingpo is counted amongst the principal "twenty-five disciples" of Padmasambhava. sNub Ben Namkha'i Nyingpo was a realized practitioner of Śāntarakṣita’s tradition of Sutrayana "gradualist" Mahayana Buddhism as well as simultaneously being one of the most accomplished Tibetan practitioners of the East Mountain Teaching of Chan Buddhism, which transmits the "subitist" tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.
Dampa Sangye was a Buddhist mahasiddha of the Indian Tantra movement who transmitted many teachings based on both Sutrayana and Tantrayana to Buddhist practitioners in Tibet in the late 11th century. He travelled to Tibet more than five times. On his third trip from India to Tibet he met Machig Labdrön. Dampa Sangye appears in many of the lineages of Chöd and so in Tibet he is known as the Father of Chod, however perhaps his best known teaching is "the Pacification". This teaching became an element of the Mahamudra Chöd lineages founded by Machig Labdrön.
The Tibetan Empire existed from the 7th to 9th centuries AD when Tibet was unified as a large and powerful empire, and ruled an area considerably larger than the Tibetan Plateau, stretching to parts of East Asia, Central Asia and South Asia.
Kamalaśīla was an Indian Buddhist of Nalanda Mahavihara who accompanied Śāntarakṣita (725–788) to Tibet at the request of Trisong Detsen.
Buddhism was first actively disseminated in Tibet from the 6th to the 9th century CE, predominantly from India. During the Era of Fragmentation, Buddhism waned in Tibet, only to rise again in the 11th century. With the Mongol invasion of Tibet in the 13th century and the establishment of the Mongol Yuan dynasty, Tibetan Buddhism spread beyond Tibet to Mongolia and China. From the 14th to the 20th Tibetan Buddhism was patronized by the Chinese Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and the Manchurian Qing dynasty (1644–1912).
Nganlam Takdra Lukhong, also known as Nganlam Tara Lukhong, Nganlam Lukhong or Lon Takdra, was a famous general of the Tibetan Empire who served as Lönchen during Trisong Detsen's reign. In many Chinese records, his name is given as Mǎ Chóngyīng.
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Tsepangsa Magyal Dongkar was an important Tibetan Empire female. She was empress of Trisong Detsen, the famous Dharma king. Unlike her husband, she was a follower of Bon.