Buddhism is a religion that encompasses many beliefs and traditions. It is really hard to make out a difference between Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism as the Tibetan sect is a part of it. Tibetan Buddhism, which can also be called as Lamaism is the Buddhist sect that is mainly found in Tibet. They believe in the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. Mahayana, Foundational Vehicle, and Vajrayna are the three vehicles that Tibetan Buddhism is founded upon.
Tibetan people’s origin is that they are the descendants of the human Pha Trelgen Changchup Sempa and rock ogress Ma Drag Sinmo. It is thought that most of the Tibeto-Burman-speakers in Southwest China, including the Tibetans, are direct descendants from the ancient Qiang.
Tibet is rich in culture. Tibetan art is deeply religious in nature, a form of sacred art. It spreads over a wide range of paintings, frescos, statues, ritual objects, coins, ornaments and furniture.
- Tantric influence Most of the typical Tibetan Buddhist art can be seen as part of the practice of tantra. A surprising aspect of Tantric Buddhism is the common representation of wrathful deities, often depicted with angry faces, circles of flame, or with the skulls of the dead. These images represent the Protectors and their fearsome bearing belies their true compassionate nature.
- Bön influence The indigenous shamanistic religion of the Himalayas is known as Bön. Bon contributes a pantheon of local tutelary deities to Tibetan art. In Tibetan temples (known as lhakhang), statues of the Buddha or Padmasambhava are often paired with statues of the tutelary deity of the district who often appears angry or dark.
- Tibetan rug making is an ancient art and craft in the tradition of Tibetan people. These rugs are primarily made from Tibetan highland sheep’s virgin wool. The Tibetan uses rugs for almost any domestic use from flooring to wall hanging to horse saddles. Traditionally the best rugs are from Gyantse, a city which is known for its rugs. Tibetan rugs are big business in not only Tibet, but also Nepal, where Tibetan immigrants brought with them their knowledge of rug making.
There is a rich ancient tradition of lay Tibetan literature which includes epics, poetry, short stories, dance scripts and mime, plays and so on which has expanded into a huge body of work – some of which has been translated into Western languages. Tibetan literature has a historical span of over 1300 years. Perhaps the best known category of Tibetan literature outside of Tibet are the epic stories – particularly the famous Gesar epic.
Tibetan art is deeply religious in nature, from the exquisitely detailed statues found in Gonpas to wooden carvings and the intricate designs of the Thangka paintings. Thangka paintings, a syncretism of Indian scroll-painting with Nepalese and Kashmiri painting, appeared in Tibet around the 8th century. Rectangular and painted on cotton or linen, they usually depict traditional motifs including religious, astrological, and theological subjects, and sometimes a mandala.
Following in the footsteps of the 14th Dalai Lama more than 150,000 Tibetan refugees have fled to India during the past 50 years. He left with his initial entourage following the abortive 1959 Tibetan uprising. He was followed by about 80,000 Tibetan refugees.
In 1960, the Government of Mysore (as Karnataka was called at that time) allotted nearly 3,000 acres (12 km2) of land at Bylakuppe in Mysore district in Karnataka and the first ever Tibetan exile settlement, Lugsung Samdupling came into existence in 1961. A few years later another settlement, Tibetan Dickey Larsoe, also called TDL, was established. This was followed by the establishment of three more settlements in Karnataka state making it the state with the largest Tibetan refugee population. Rabgayling settlement was created in Gurupura village near Hunsur, Dhondenling was established at Oderapalya near Kollegal and Doeguling settlement came into being at Mundgod in Uttara Kannada district, all in Karnataka. The Bir Tibetan Colony was established in Bir, Himachal Pradesh.