Tsi Nesar

Last updated

Tsi Nesar (rTsis gnas.gsar, also called rTsis lha.khang) [1] is a geomantic ('district controlling' or 'border taming') temple attributed to Emperor Songtsen Gampo who lived in the 7th century CE. However, the original buildings, their precious murals and paintings said to date back to the 12th century, and the nearby temple constructed by Emperor Trisong Detsen in the 8th century to house a famous image of Prajnaparamita, consecrated by Padmasambhava, which survived until the Cultural Revolution, have all been destroyed. A "country-style" temple has been built in recent years incorporating some of the revered ancient timbers from the original temples. [2] [3] It is located in a valley 25 km from Gyantse [4] and 6 km north of Drongtse Monastery. [2] [5]

Songtsen Gampo Tibetan emperor

Songtsen Gampo, also Songzan Ganbu(Chinese: 松赞干布 Sōngzàn Gānbù), 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 and Chinese queens, as well as being the unifier of what were previously 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.

Trisong Detsen Emperor of Tibet

Trisong Detsen or Trisong Detsän 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.


Prajñāpāramitā means "the Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom" in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Prajñāpāramitā refers to this perfected way of seeing the nature of reality, as well as to a particular body of sutras and to the personification of the concept in the Bodhisattva known as the "Great Mother". The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā "wisdom" with pāramitā "perfection". Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and is generally associated with the doctrine of emptiness (Shunyata) or 'lack of Svabhava' (essence) and the works of Nagarjuna. Its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva path.

There were two small ancient temples, the Runo Tsuklakang (Ru-gnon gtsung lag.khang or 'dgon-khang') was built by Songsten Gampo. It consisted of three chapels dedicated to rNam.par snang.mdzad, (Vairocana) mGon.po (Mahākāla) and sPyan.ras.gzigs (Chenresig = Avalokiteshvara). The Yumchen lhakang, apparently founded during the reign of Trisong Detsen, contained a statue of Yumchenmo or Prajnaparamita surrounded by the Buddhas of the Four Directions, as well as an image of mGon.po said to have been made from blood drawn from the nose of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). The third temple, traditionally attributed to the reign of Emperor Ralpacan (although Vitali dates its foundation to about 1057), was called rGya-phibs, which, from its name, must have been surmounted by a pagoda roof at one time. The "stiff, medallioned robes" dressing the bodhisattvas at Tsi Nesar show Central Asian and Indian (Pala) influences and probably date to the 11th century. [6]

Vairocana celestial Buddha embodying emptiness

Vairocana is a celestial buddha who is often interpreted, in texts like the Avatamsaka Sutra, as the dharmakāya of the historical Gautama Buddha. In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana is also seen as the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of Śūnyatā. In the conception of the Five Tathagatas of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Vairocana is at the centre and is considered a Primordial Buddha.

Padmasambhava Tibetan Lama

Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, was an 8th-century Buddhist master from the Indian subcontinent. Although there was a historical Padmasambhava, little is known of him apart from helping the construction of the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet at Samye, at the behest of Trisong Detsen, and shortly thereafter leaving Tibet due to court intrigues.

The site is one of the twenty-five main terne, or 'power-places with treasure-troves', of Central Tibet mentioned in the biographies of Padmasambhava. Tsi Nesar is said to contain 'exoteric terma'. [3]

Exoteric refers to knowledge that is outside, and independent from, a person's experience and can be ascertained by anyone. The word is derived from the comparative form of Greek ἔξω eksô, "from, out of, outside". It signifies anything which is public, without limits, or universal. It is distinguished from internal esoteric knowledge. "Exoteric" relates to external reality as opposed to a person's thoughts or feelings. It is knowledge that is public as opposed to secret or cabalistic. It is not required that exoteric knowledge come easily or automatically, but it should be referenceable or reproducible.

Terma are various forms of hidden teachings that are key to Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhist and Bon religious traditions. The belief is that these teachings were originally esoterically hidden by various adepts such as Padmasambhava and dakini such as Yeshe Tsogyal (consorts) during the 8th century, for future discovery at auspicious times by other adepts, who are known as tertöns. As such, terma represent a tradition of continuous revelation in Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism. Termas are a part of tantric literature.


  1. Early Temples of Central Tibet, p. 38. (1990) Roberto Vitali. Serindia Publications, London. ISBN   0-906026-25-3.
  2. 1 2 Gyurme Dorje (1999). Tibet Handbook with Bhutan (2nd ed.). Bath, UK: Footprint Handbooks. pp. 261–262. ISBN   978-1-900949-33-0.
  3. 1 2 The Power-places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide, pp. 271, 292-294. (1988) Keith Dowman. Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London & New York. ISBN   0-7102-1370-0.
  4. Tibet, p. 171. (2005) Bradley Mayhew and Michael Kohn. 6th Edition. Lonely Planet. ISBN   1-74059-523-8.
  5. The Power-places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide, p. 271. (1988) Keith Dowman. Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London & New York. ISBN   0-7102-1370-0.
  6. Early Temples of Central Tibet, pp. 51-53, 55-59. (1990) Roberto Vitali. Serindia Publications, London. ISBN   0-906026-25-3.

Related Research Articles

Bhrikuti Nepalese princess

The Licchavi Princess Bhrikuti Devi, known to Tibetans as Bal-mo-bza' Khri-btsun, Bhelsa Tritsun or, simply, Khri bTsun, is traditionally considered to have been the first wife of the earliest emperor of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo, and an incarnation of Tara. She was also known as "Besa", and was a princess of the Licchavi kingdom of Nepal.

Samye Buddhist monastery in Tibet

Samye was the first gompa built in Tibet. It was probably first constructed between 775-9 under the patronage of King Trisong Detsen of Tibet who sought to revitalize Buddhism, which had declined since its introduction by King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. The monastery is in Dranang, Lhoka. It was supposedly modeled on the design of Odantapuri in what is now Bihar, India.

Gyantse Place in Tibet Autonomous Region, China

Gyantse, officially Gyangzê Town, is a town located in Gyantse County, Shigatse Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. It was historically considered the third largest and most prominent town in the Tibet region, but there are now at least ten larger Tibetan cities.


A Kumbum is a multi-storied aggregate of Buddhist chapels in Tibetan Buddhism. The most famous Kumbum forms part of Palcho Monastery.

Muru Nyingba Monastery building in Muru Nyingba Monastery, China

Muru Ningba or Meru Nyingba is a small Buddhist monastery located between the larger monasteries of Jokhang and Barkhor in the city of Lhasa, Tibet, China. It was the Lhasa seat of the former State Oracle who had his main residence at Nechung Monastery.

Tsetang Town in Tibet Autonomous Region, Peoples Republic of China

Zêtang, also Zedang or Tsethang, is the fourth largest city in Tibet and is located in the Yarlung Valley, 183 km (114 mi) southeast of Lhasa in Nêdong District of Shannan, Tibet Autonomous Region of China. As capital of Shannan City, it "...exercises direct control over the affairs of 13 counties: Gongkar, Tranang, Nedong, Changye, Tso-me, Lhodrok, Nakartse, Zangri, Chutsum, Lhuntse, Tsona, Gyatsa and Nang."

Yerpa monastery

Yerpa, is only a short drive to the east of Lhasa, Tibet, and consists of a monastery and a number of ancient meditation caves that used to house about 300 monks.


Ngor or Ngor Éwam Chöden is the name of a monastery in the Ü-Tsang province of Tibet about 20 kilometres (12 mi) southwest of Shigatse and is the Sakya school's second most important gompa. It is the main temple of the large Ngor school of Vajrayana Buddhism, which represents eighty-five percent of the Sakya school.

Yungbulakang Palace building in Peoples Republic of China

Yumbu Lakhang or Yumbu Lakhang is an ancient structure in the Yarlung Valley in the vicinity of Tsetang, Nêdong County, the seat of Lhoka Prefecture, in the southern Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

Lhatse (town) Place in Tibet Autonomous Region, China

The new town of Lhatse or Lhatse Xian, also known as Quxar, Quxia or Chusar, is a small town of a few thousand people in the Tibet Autonomous Region in the valley of the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Lhatse County, 151 kilometres (94 mi) southwest of Shigatse and just west of the mountain pass leading to it. Lhatse is 4,050 metres (13,290 ft) above sea-level.

Tradruk Temple Tibetan monastery near Tsetang, Shanan prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China.

Tradruk Temple in the Yarlung Valley is the earliest great geomantic temple after the Jokhang and some sources say it predates that temple.

Chokorgyel Monastery building in Chokorgyel Monastery, China

Chokorgyel Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Gyatsa County in Tibet.

Yangpachen Monastery building in Damxung County, China

Yangpachen Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yangpachen, in the Lhasa Prefecture of Tibet. It is historically the seat of the Shamarpas of Karma Kagyü. It is about 85 km southeast of Lhasa "on the northern side of the Lhorong Chu valley above the Lhasa-Shigatse highway."

Drongtse Monastery building in Drongtse Monastery, China

Drongtse Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery was formerly one of the most important Gelug monasteries in Tsang, Tibet. There was also a chorten there.

Pabonka Hermitage building in Pabonka Hermitage, China

Pabonka Hermitage, also written Pawangka, is a historical hermitage, today belonging to Sera Monastery, about 8 kilometres northwest of Lhasa in the Nyang bran Valley on the slopes of Mount Parasol in Tibet.

Daklha Gampo Monastery, also romanized as Daglha Gampo, is a Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist monastery founded in 1121 CE by Je Gampopa (1079-1153), the disciple of the famous and much-loved bodhisattva, Jetsun Milarepa It is located in Gyatsa County in the old district of Dakpo in southern Tibet on land sanctified as a geomantic power-place by the first Tibetan emperor, Songtsen Gampo, and made a repository of terma by Padmasambhava.

Yarlung Valley human settlement in China

The Yarlung Valley is formed by the Yarlung Tsangpo River and refers especially to the district where it joins with the Chongye River, and broadens out into a large plain about 2 km wide, before they flow north into the Yarlung Tsangpo River or Brahmaputra. It is situated in Nedong County of Lhokha Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The capital of Lhokha Prefecture, Zêtang, in the Yarlung Valley, is one of Tibet's largest cities, and is 183 km southeast of Lhasa.

Orgyen Lingpa Tibetan terton

Orgyen Lingpa, was one of the greatest Tibetan tertöns or treasure-finders of the 14th century.

"At the age of twenty-three he is said to have discovered an extensive treasure inventory at Samye Monastery in the Red Stupa."

"He discovered texts, images, ritual objects and jewels, chiefly at Shetak, Yugang Drak, and Drachi Drakpoche. Of the 100 texts that were revealed by him, the Katang Denga are the most important to have survived. These five volumes chronicling the period of the Emperor Trisong Detsen include the Pema Katang, the most authoritative legendary biography of Guru Rinpoche. Orgyen Lingpa was born at Yarje in 1323. "

Lhasa is noted for its traditional buildings and structures related to Tibetan Buddhism.