The origin of Tibetan Buddhism and its development

Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India (Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Sikkim). It is also practiced in Mongolia and parts of [[Russia](Kalmykia, Buryatia, and Tuva) and Northeast China. Tibetan Buddhism comprises many distinct schools, but is primarily divided into four main traditions: Nyingma, Kagyu, Gelug, and Sakya. All schools are said to include the teachings of the three vehicles of Buddhism: the Foundational Vehicle, Mahayana, and Vajrayana, although some schools, the Gelug for example, consider Vajrayana a part of Mahayana.

The first military attacks by the People's Republic of China on Tibetan troops began at the end of May, 1950, and Generals Zhang Guohua and Tan Guansan reached Lhasa on the 26th October, 1951. Soon after thousands of PLA troops marched through Lhasa. This all led to armed conflicts later in the decade. The failed uprising resulted in the exile of about eighty thousand Tibetans, many of them Buddhist clergy members, to India. Some of them went further to the west, which in turn eventually led to the spread of Tibetan Buddhism to many Western countries, where the tradition has gained popularity.

According to a Tibetan legendary tradition, Buddhist scriptures (among them the Karandavyuha Sutra) and relics (among them the Cintamani) arrived in southern Tibet during the reign of Lha Thothori Nyantsen, the 28th king of Tibet (fifth century). The tale is miraculous (the objects fell from the sky on the roof of the king's palace), but it may have a historical background (the arrival of Buddhist missionaries).

The earliest well-documented influence of Buddhism in Tibet dates from the reign of king Songts? Gampo, who died in 650. He married a Chinese Tang Dynasty Buddhist princess, Wencheng, who came to Tibet with a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.[40] According to a Tibetan legendary tradition, Songts? Gampo also married a Nepalese Buddhist princess, Bhrikuti; but Bhrikuti, who bears the name of a goddess, is not mentioned in reliable sources. Songts? Gampo founded the first Buddhist temples. By the second half of the 8th century he was already regarded as an embodiment of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.

The successors of Songts? Gampo seem to have been less enthusiastic about the propagation of Buddhism. But in the 8th century, King Trisong Detsen (755-797) established Buddhism as the official religion of the state. He invited Indian Buddhist scholars to his court. In his age the famous tantric mystic Padmasambhava arrived in Tibet according to the Tibetan tradition. In addition to writing a number of important scriptures (some of which he hid for future tertons to find), Padmasambhava established the Nyingma school ("the old school").

Tibetan Buddhism exerted a strong influence from the 11th century CE among the peoples of Central Asia, especially in Mongolia and Manchuria. It was adopted as an official state religion by the Mongol Yuan dynasty and the Manchu Qing dynasty that ruled China.

Today, Tibetan Buddhism is adhered to widely in the Tibetan Plateau, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, Kalmykia (on the north-west shore of the Caspian), Siberia (central Russia, specifically Buryatia and Chita Oblast), and the Russian Far East (concentrated in Tyva). The Indian regions of Sikkim and Ladakh, both formerly independent kingdoms, are also home to significant Tibetan Buddhist populations. In the wake of the Tibetan diaspora, Tibetan Buddhism has gained adherents in the West and throughout the world; there are estimated to be tens of thousands of practitioners in Europe and the Americas.