Author Topic: Samye Monastery reborn  (Read 5292 times)


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Samye Monastery reborn
« on: July 19, 2012, 04:07:57 PM »
It's interesting how China is now restoring Tibetan Buddhism which they once destroyed. First, the installment of the Panchen Lama and now the restoration of Samye Ling, although it is probably for the tourists but it does show that they are doing something to restore their past mistake. I rejoice for the new Samye Ling, and the people that will be brought into the Dharma due to it.

Samye Monastery reborn
by Liu Xiangrui and Dachiong, China Daily, Jul 16, 2012
Lhasa, Tibet (China) -- The best place to enjoy Samye Monastery's ingenious layout, a mini version of the Buddhist concept of the universe, is on the top floor of its grandiose and central Wuzi Hall.
It is also a good spot to watch as the 1,200-year-old building is rejuvenated with a facelift.

Situated by the Yarlung Zangbo River, in Shannan prefecture, Samye Monastery is highly respected by Tibetans, most of whom are devoutly Buddhist.

It is also known for its rich collection of Buddha statues, sutras, murals, stone inscriptions, and religious buildings that combine Tibetan, Chinese and Indian styles.

Every year some 200,000 pilgrims and tourists descend on Samye Monastery to see them.

In 2011, renovations to the building - its drainage, electrics, fire safety and the frescoes - were begun, says Phuntsogwangdus, head of the monastery's management committee.

Funded predominantly by a 70 million yuan ($11 million) central government grant, about 15 million yuan was spent in 2011, and the rest is scheduled to be paid out in the next two years.

 The 42-year-old Tsering, who has been a monk at the monastery since 1988, says: "We didn't even have a presentable toilet before."
In the past, the monks' livelihoods and the operation of the monastery depended mainly on alms and a monastery-run passenger transport company, of which Tsering is the manager.

"The monastery had no extra money for major renovation projects," he says.

Before 2011, the only significant building work was a central government financed facelift of the "golden roof" and the third floor of Wuzi Hall, in 1989.

Now Samye's 13 Buddha halls, a tower displaying a Buddha, and other major buildings are being renovated. Among them, the Hall of Safeguarding Buddha will cost about 50 million yuan.

The monks have also helped with the renovations.

"We'll be the most direct beneficiaries when our monastery gets fixed and its environment improved," says Phuntsogdorje, one of those who is overseeing the project.

Previously, the 99 monks of Samye Monastery lived in cramped conditions. Phuntsogdorje, for instance, shared a 16-square-meter room separated down the middle from another room by a board.

"We cooked, slept, studied and worshipped Buddha in the same room. Of course, that would disgrace Buddha," he says. "Now the conditions are much better and we can focus more on our Buddhist studies."

Samye Monastery is home primarily to monks of the Ningma Sect. But all the monks are included in the social welfare system, Phuntsogwangdus says.

Monks in Tibet often suffer health problems like hypertension and renal diseases, so the management committee has called on doctors to provide medical consultations and keep health records.

Meanwhile, the local government has gifted body-building equipment to the monastery.

And it is not just the buildings that are being improved. Since the area surrounding the monastery is affected by desertification, since 2011 there have been efforts to make it greener.

The prefecture government also plans to invest about 60 million yuan to make Samye Monastery into a comprehensive tourist destination, by improving its landscaping.

Phuntsogdorje is confident the changes will make the monastery more pleasant and attract more visitors, thereby bringing in more income.

Tenzin K

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Re: Samye Monastery reborn
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 01:03:14 PM »
It’s a great news for to know the Chinese is restoring Samye Monastery. Even though the intention look more like making it a tourist spot for commercial purposes but it's definitely make good opportunity for the tourist to be connected to the Buddha and more people will be planted an imprint to their mind stream for future benefits.
Some background of Samye Monastery:

Built in the 8th century, Samye Monastery was the first Buddhist monastery to be founded in Tibet. It is also notable as the site of the "Great Debate" (792-794) between the Indian Mahayanists and Chinese Chán (Zen) Buddhists.

Samye is famous for its sacred mandala design: the central temple symbolizes the legendary Mount Meru, center of the universe. It is a popular pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists, some of whom travel on foot for weeks to reach it.


Samye Monastery was founded in the 8th century during the reign of King Trisong Detsen with the help of the Indian Buddhist masters Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita, whom the king had invited to Tibet to help spread Buddhism. Padamasambhava is credited with subduing the local spirits and winning them over to Buddhism.

The first Tibetan monks were ordained here after examination, and are referred to as the Seven Examined Men. Over the centuries Samye has been associated with various schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Padmasambhava's involvement makes Samye important in the Nyingma school, but it was later taken over by the Sakya and Gelugpa schools. Today, Tibetans of all traditions come to worship here.

A unique monastery and village rolled into one, Samye is a highlight of a visit to Tibet. Situated amidst breathtaking scenery, the journey to Samye is splendid no matter how you arrive.

The layout of the huge monastery complex forms a giant mandala, a representation of the Buddhist universe, and is modeled after the Indian temple of Odantapuri in Bihar.

The complex is surrounded by a strong wall topped by 1008 (108 is a sacred number) tiny chortens and pierced by gates at the four cardinal points.

The main temple in the center represents Mt. Meru, the mythical mountain at the center of the Buddhist universe. The four continents in the ocean around Mt. Meru are represented by the four lingshi temples at the cardinal points, each flanked by two smaller temples (lingtren) to symbolize islands in the ocean.

There are four large chortens at the corners of the main temple in four different colors, and there is a nyima (Sun) temple in the north and a dawa (Moon) temple to the south.

The main temple, or utse, at Samye is a grand six-story building that takes a couple of hours to thoroughly explore. Bring a flashlight to see the murals hidden in the shadows. The first floor is the most impressive of the six, and is dominated by the main assembly hall, with old mandalas on the high ceiling.

Flanking the entrance to the main chapel are statues of historical figures associated with Samye's founding: Shantarakshita, Padmasambhava, Trisong Detsen and Songtsen Gampo are among those on the left.

The chapel, Jowo Khang, is accessed through three tall doorways and enshrines a statue of Buddha at the age of 38.

Left of the assembly hall is a small temple, Chenresi Lhakhang, which houses a beautiful statue of Chenresi with a eye carefully painted on the palm of each of his thousand hands. This is perhaps the artistic highlight of Samye.

To the right of the assembly hall is the Gonkhang, a protector chapel, with eerie statues of former Bon demons that were turned into fierce Buddhist protector deities.

The second floor is an open roof area, where monks and locals carry out the craft work for the temple. The third floor contains the Quarters of the Dalai Lama, with a small anteroom, throne room and bedroom.

In the bedroom is a barred, glass-fronted case full of wonderful relics: Padmasambhava's hair and walking stick, a Tara statue that is reputed to speak, and the skull of Shantarakshita.

Naturally, this room is of utmost importance to Tibetan pilgrims so there is often a crush of bodies that makes it difficult to linger very long. The top floors have little to see in themselves, but provide excellent views from their balconies.

The four brightly-colored chortens (black, white, red and green) at the main temple's corners are modern and each one is slightly different. Inside them are stairs and tiny chapels. Most visitors either love them or hate them.

The rest of the buildings are in varying stages of renovation, with some being used as stables and others still showing the effects of the Cultural Revolution. The finest murals are in Mani Lhakhang in the northwest of the complex.

East of the complex, you can climb the sacred Hepo Ri for splendid views. It was here that Padmasambhava is said to have subdue the local spirits and won them over to Buddhism.