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On the Origin of the People of Tibet, and the Ancestor of the First King: Nyatri Tsenpo

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Let us discard any possible misconstruction of the question regarding the origin of the Tibetans. More than ninety percent of Tibetan historians have

believed that Tibetans originated between the union of a compassionate monkey: the reincarnation of Lord of Compassion - Avalokiteshvara - and a rock ogress: the reincarnation of Goddess Tara. As historians later informed: the deification of these two progenitors was a religious embellishment in accordance to the mindsets of earlier Tibetans. The rock ogress is but a euphemism for a carnivorous female rock ape. We also recognise 19thcentury British

naturalist, Charles Darwin’s celebrated Theory of Evolution. Yet it is pertinent to identify that the Tibetan evolutionary theory was first recorded in the 11th century - about eight hundred years before the Darwinian Theory. In Tibet, the idea that the first Tibetan descended from Indian origin was initially given by an Indian scholar: Sherab Gocha. In his work: “Devatishyastotra” - translated into Tibetan in the 11thcentury AD - he stated that an Indian King:

Rupati, having suffered defeat in a battle had garbed himself into female attires and fled to Tibet. Later on, his descendants formed the earliest ancestors of the present day Tibetans. According to some Indian scholars, the incident of Rupati’s escape to Tibet was a part of the battle of Mahabharata. Historians like Buton Rinchen Dhondup - after the 11th century - started to maintain Sherab Gocha’s statement as the true account on the origin of

Tibetans. The Great 5th Dalai Lama - in the 17th century - said in his “Melody of Queen of Spring” that although the Tibetans originated between the union of a monkey and rock ogress, there also might have existed Rupati’s descendants and his retinues amongst Tibetans. It is reasonable now to conclude with the view of the 5th Dalai Lama. Most historians believe - on the origin of the first king of Tibet - that he came from India. Others believed such an idea

of the first king’s origin emerged around the 11th century AD. This idea was first recorded in King Songtsen Gampo’s testament called BkaChem Ka-Kolma and Mani Ka-Bum, and it is said that those two testaments were discovered beneath a pillar in Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple by an Indian scholar; Atisha - in the 11th century AD. Later, a majority of Tibetan historians had quoted those two testaments to justify their own theory of the first king of Tibet’s Indian origin,

and with that there also emerged different versions regarding the king’s Indian lineage and on how he came to Tibet. On the king’s Indian lineage, some historians grafted the story of origin of Tibetans to the origin of the king, and claimed that the first king of Tibet Nyatri Tsenpo was actually Rupati

himself. Some claim that Nyatri Tsenpo was son of Indian king Prasanajeet of Kosala; others that he was son of king Bindusara’s son. All those claims were spurned by the Tibetan historian Pawo Tsulak Trinwa as anachronistic. He said that Rupati was born before the Buddha and the first king of Tibet appeared

long time after the Buddha’s Parinirvana. Chronologically speaking, he said these two could not be the same man. He also said that Prasanajeet and Bindusa were contemporaries of the Buddha and died before the Buddha. Here again he said, for either two king’s sons to be the first king of Tibet lies beyond the

sphere of possibility. He said that Nyatri Tsenpo was actually a descendant of king Lichavi from the Shakya Clan of India who emerged a long time after the Buddha’s departure. Contemporary Tibetan historian, Tsepon W.D. Shakabpa, states in his “An Advanced Political History of Tibet” that Nyatri Tsenpo was the

son of a king of Magadha: Magadha lies now in the State of Bihar in India. Regarding how Nyatri Tsenpo happened to come to Tibet, it is said that he was

born with strange physiognomic features: his eyes were concealed by eyelashes, his eyebrows were turquoise blue; his teeth spiral in shape and his fingers were webbed like a duck. Because of this his father could not show him to others and when he came of age, he was sent away from the palace. It is said that thus, he strayed himself into Tibet.

Some have said that he was sent away in a small copper boat and was found by a farmer. Later when he was of age, he realised his past, and being overwhelmed by sadness, fled to Tibet. When he arrived, some have said that he met shepherds and others said that he met twelve wise Bon followers, who

were in search of their king: one who could exercise power on entire Tibet. When the Bon followers asked him where he came from, being ignorant of Tibetan language he could not understand them. It is said, he happened to point his finger towards the sky. As they were sky worshippers they readily assumed him to be a heavenly being and carried him on their shoulders to make him the king of Tibet. Tibetans named him Nyatri Tsenpo: the King of the Throne of

Shoulders. As a proof of the first king’s Indian origin, some historians claim that before Nyatri Tsenpo, Tibetans lived in tents as majority of Tibetans led a nomadic live. After he came to Tibet he built Tibet’s first castle, Yumbu Lhakhang, in conventional Indian architectural line as he was familiar with

it. This rebuilt castle exists today in Yarlung in Central Tibet. If one ponders upon the present day reality of the people, who reside in the Himalayan region, it is observably clear from every aspect of their religion, culture and language that majority of them were descended from Tibetan racial stock.