School of Buddhism: Originally Jonangpa (sub-sect of Kaguy), presently Gelug
Founded by Kunpangpa Tuje Tsondrup in 13 century
Location: 105 km away from Shigatse, 60 km from Lhatse
ABOUT PHUNTSOK LING
Phuntsok Ling monastery belonged to the Jonang school of Tibetan Buddhism. Later, it was converted to Gelug school. The monastery is located 105 km away from Shigatse on the way to Lhatse, near the bank of Brahmaputra River.
Phuntsok Ling is famous for its well-preserved ancient murals. They have historical, artistic, and scientific importance.
Every year on December 27th of the Tibetan calendar, the monastery holds a god-jumping festival. On October 8th of the Tibetan calendar, monks perform a worship ceremony.
HISTORY OF PHUNTSOK LING
Yumo Mikyo founded the Jonangpa school of Tibetan Buddhism after receiving Kalachakra initiation from Indian master Somanatha in the 11 century. His lineage holder, Kunpangpa Tuje Tsondrup (1243-1313) founded Puntsok Ling.
The Jonangpa order had a different view on the nature of emptiness (a very important aspect in Buddhism studies). Particularly, the matter of interest is the concept of “shentong” examining the emptiness of Buddhahood. It is a subject to many Buddhist debates and understood differently in Gelug, the most wide-spread school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The history of the monastery is closely connected with a scholar Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292-1361). He studied the philosophy behind the concept of emptiness and expanded the monastery.
In the 17th century, during the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, the monastery was converted into Gelug order.
Unfortunately, the monastery library containing gold-inscribed texts on black or indigo paper no longer exists. Some of its woodblocks have been preserved at Derge in the Kham region (Eastern Tibet).
The residence of Taranatha on the hill is in ruins. However, thangka Wall and Mani Stone Wall are still standing.
The monastery is famous for its ancient murals. You can see them on the front porch, in the sutra hall on the ground floor of the Assembly hall, in the gallery of the Yishang Hall on the second floor, and on the third-floor Russian gate Buddhist hall. Murals on the roof depict the life stories of Shakyamuni (Present) Buddha.
During the time of the cultural revolution, local Tibetans came to save the monastery. They covered old murals with white clay and sometimes even with cow dung. Thanks to these efforts, we can now see excellent old murals.
The three stories high red building of the monastery complex is Assembly Hall with an area of 1,700 square meters.
The main statues on the first floor are Avalokiteshvara (Chenresig) and the Fifth Dalai Lama.
In the building, there is an inner sanctum where you can see Aksobhya Buddha and Eight Bodhisattvas, as well as ancient murals.
The outer buildings of the monastery complex are also important. They contain many chapels and monk’s houses.
PLACES TO VISIT NEARBY
Shalu monastery is an old monastery located 20 km southeast of Shigatse (or 69 km from Gyantse) famous for its outstanding murals. Shalu monastery belongs to the Buton school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a suborder of the Sakya sect. Although Shalu is a minor order, it is highly influential. The tradition was founded based on the Sakya and Kadam teachings by Abbott Buton Rinchendrub in the 14th century.
TASHI LHUNPO MONASTERY
Tashi Lhunpo is one of the six great Gelug monasteries in Tibet. It is also the seat of Panchen Lama – the second most revered Lama in Tibet. The large complex has spectacular chapels with ancient artifacts. One of the most important chapels houses the Future Buddha statue – the largest Maitreya statue in the world. It is decorated with many kilograms of gold and hundreds of precious stones.
Sakya monastery is one of the rarely visited gems in Tibet. The monastery was established in 1268 and is designed defensively, with watchtowers on each of the corners of its high walls and it is one of Tibet’s most impressive construction sights.
POPULAR TOURS IN TIBET
6 DAYS CENTRAL TIBET HIGHLIGHTS
This private tour starts in Lhasa, where we spend the first three days acclimatizing. While in Lhasa, we visit UNESCO World Heritage sites: Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, and two main monasteries in Lhasa: Sera and Drepung.
After that, we will drive on the scenic road visiting Yamdrok Lake, Karola glaciers and Gyantse monastery, before reaching Shigatse in the evening.
On the next day, we visit the Tashi Lhunpo monastery before returning back to Lhasa.
10 DAYS EASY ACCLIMATIZING EVEREST TOUR
This slow-paced private tour takes you from Lhasa to Gyantse and Shigatse, where we spend the first few days acclimatizing. We will visit many of the historical and religious places, such as Potala Palace, Jokhang temple, Gyantse monastery, and Kumbum Stupa.
You can add visiting Phuntsok Ling monastery to this tour.
CLASSIC 8 DAYS LHASA TO EVEREST TOUR
A beautiful and exciting journey, starting in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and going to the Everest Base Camp. The tour visits Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera, Drepung and Tashilhunpo monasteries, Kumbum Stupa, Yamdrok Lake, and Karola glaciers.
Both group and private tours are available