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Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism, also called Lamaism (for a religious master is called a lama), is the body of religious doctrine and institutions the characteristic of Tibet, technically known as Vajrayana or Tantrayana. Tibetan Buddhism includes elements of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

Buddhism came from India into Tibet in 173 AD during the reign of Lha Thothori Nyantsen. However, Buddhism did not take a strong foothold until the 9th century.

Introduced to Tibet in the 7th century, it married to both the Shamanistic Bön Religion (see Shamanism), and Tantric elements. The original Bön was a religion of magical and exorcist practices, which made the Lamaism dependent on the use of mantras, elaborate ritual, and the worship of guardian deities and the new idea of living incarnations of Buddha.


Tibetan Buddhism has five main schools:
  • Nyingma
  • Kadam: presumed extinct, efforts to revitalize it are present in the Buddhist community
  • Kagyu
  • Sakya
  • Geluk: though the most influential, it is the latest, hence not a part of "The Four Great Schools" traditionally.

An one minor one:

  • Jonang[?]: presumed extinct, survived in Eastern Tibet.

There is also an ecumenical movement known as Rime[?] (alternative spelling: Rimed[?]).

Famous and popular teachings of Tibetan Buddhism are mahamudra, 6 yogas of Naropa[?], dzogchen.

See also: prayer wheel, Dalai Lama

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