Songtsen Gampo

srong btsan sgam po
Author: Jonas Doctor
Last Updated: May 18, 2022

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Songtsen Gampo (617-698 A.D.) is traditionally credited with being the first to bring Buddhism to the Tibetan people. He is also said to have built many Buddhist temples, including the Jokhang in Lhasa. During his reign, the translation of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Tibetan began. Songtsen Gampo is considered to be the first of the three Dharma Kings—Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen, and Ralpacan—who established Buddhism in Tibet.

Songtsen Gampo sent seventeen Tibetan students to India to master its languages and through them Buddhism. Thonmi Sambhota, the most famous of these students, having mastered Sanskrit and been introduced to Buddhism returned to Tibet and on the basis of the Brahmi and Gupta scripts devised the Tibetan alphabet and grammar. For the first time in the history of Tibet, Thonmi Sambhota translated several important Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Tibetan.

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