Religion is very significant to the Tibetans as everything, from education to culture, is centered on religious beliefs. Tibet is a holy land where most of the people believe in Tibetan Buddhism. However, there are also other religions such as; Bon, Islam and Catholicism. Even though, different religions coexist harmoniously with each other.
Buddhism likely was introduced to Tibet in 173 CE at first, during the region of the 28th Yarlung King Thothori, but had, it appears, no impact at first. The first official historic introduction of a Buddhist scripture into Tibet happened during reign of a King Hlato. Buddhism revived, with the help of King Yeshe O. A real revival occurred after 1042, when Atisha-di-Pankhara pur Tibetans "Back on the right Track". He presented the Buddhist philosophy in a very clear and strong approach, which became the basis for philosophical teachings in most Tibetans traditions. Buddhism is still persevering in Tibet, the temples and monasteries that were destroyed are rebuilt. The Chinese government still has a strong hold on religious practices, including placing a limit on the number of religious buildings. Education (although there wasn't a formal educational system) as well as anything cultural or intellectual, was based on religious beliefs in Tibet, the leaders in the government being Buddhist monks. Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Lamaism, it is based on Tantra and Yogacara, and belongs to the Mahayana school. Lamas are the teachers of Buddhism. They play an important role in Tibetan Buddhism. The Lama is the one that ensures that the system of Buddhism will continue to work. In 1578 the Lama Sonam received the title of Ta-Le (Dalai) from the Mongolian ruler Atlan khan. Because he was the third reincarnation found in a row he became the third Dalai Lama. Throughout its spreading out it has captivated and knotted features of Indian Buddhism, Tibetan Bon religion and Chinese culture, thus appearing to be far more mystical than other forms of Buddhism. Mantras, Mudras, Yantras (sacred art) and secret initiation rituals, etc. all add to its outstanding uniqueness.
Bon is the native religion of Tibet and originated around the 5th century BC. Bon, the short name of Bonpo, is also known as 'Black Religion' since the followers all wear black head-wear. Bon is full of mystery and has stirred the curiosity of many researchers and secular people despite it being overshadowed by the popular Tibetan Buddhism. It is difficult to distinguish between Tibetans who follow the tradition of Bon and those who stick to Buddhism. Both share a common heritage, as well as popular religious practice such as chanting mantras, making offerings, and spinning prayer wheels. Monks receive training in astrology, medicine, poetry, and the making 0f religious objects. Bon monks are often called to laypersons homes to perform rituals on holy days, when there is illness, and when someone dies.
Tibet is widely recognized a religious region, where nearly all the people believe in Tibetan Buddhism. Nevertheless, followers of other religions, such as Bon, Islam and Catholicism can also be seen in Tibet, and all the religions coexist harmoniously with each other. Islam has been in existence for over 1300 years, and also influences part of Tibetans' life to some degree.
In the land of Tibet where almost everyone is enthusiastic about Tibetan Buddhism, a branch of Christianity - Catholicism - also has found its root. The only Catholic church of Tibet - Yanjing Catholic Church - is located in Shang Yanjing Village, Markham County, Chamdo.
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