Tsong Khapa

TsongkhapaIn the centre of the hall is a huge gilded bronze statue of Tsong Kha-pa, founder of the Yellow Sect. He was born in Qinghai Province about 500 years ago and became a lama in Tibet when he was only 14years-old. Lamaism was divided into five sects: Red, Flowery, Black, White and Yellow. When Tsong Khapa was young, the Red Sect was popular, and the lama’s hat was red outside and yellow inside. The Red Sect of Lamaism stipulated that the head lamas were allowed to get married and their posts hereditary. Seeing the defects of such a practice, he reformed it by turning the hat inside out, that is yellow outside and red inside, which was the symbol of the Yellow Sect. He put forward 253 commandments, including the prohibition of marriage and the hereditary system. Due to these strict commandments and prohibitions, not only did he win popular support from the lamas, but from the Ming rulers as well. He soon gained both the power of ad-ministration and religion in Tibet. With a shorter history, the Yellow Sect developed and became popular rapidly. Each sect has a head lama known as the Living Buddha to control its own sect. For the Yellow Sect, the two Living Buddhas are Dalai and Bainqen Erdeni.

The statue of Great master Tsong Kpa-pa (1357-1419) is a six-meter high bronze Buddha sitting on a lotus stand.  With a sword in his right hand and scriptures in his left, the statue symbolizes wisdom and power. It cost 200,000 silver dollars to cast the statue in 1924. More than six decades later, a patina replaced its once bright shine.

In 1982, the statue was gilded. But very few people realize the gold leaf came from the trashcan — rubbish tossed out from the room of an old lama who died in the spring of that year. He Nima, a sharp-eyed lama aged 70, spotted a small pillow of the deceased in the trash early one morning, and although it was dirty and seemed of no value; he took it back to his room to save it. Several days 1ater, the lama’s niece was visiting him and spied the dirty pillow on his bed. “Why do you keep this pillow?  she said. “I could buy you a new one.” The lama said that wasn’t necessary.  He had money.  “I just felt it’s a pity to throw it away.  It’s still useful.” The niece said in that case she’d take it home and clean it for him. When she emptied the pillow, a golden necklace and two pairs of golden bracelets tumbled out. Dumb-founded, she returned to tell her uncle what she had found. He offered them to the temple to restore the statue of Tsong Kpa-pa. The temple’s committee of religious affairs exchanged the jewelry forgoldleaf. That August, lamas and monks from across the country at-tended a ceremony at the temple where the statue was unveiled, adorned in its bright new skin of gold.

Dalai Lama and Bainqen Erdeni When Tsong Kha-pa was alive, he had two famous disciples named Dalai and Baiqen, who were later deemed the reincarnations of Tsong Kha-pa and succeeded to the throne of the Living Buddhas after Tsong Kha-pa’s death with the titles of the First Dalai Lama and the First Bainqen Erdeni. After that, the succeeding Living Buddhas inherited the titles. Up till now already the Fourteenth Dalai Lama exists and the Tenth Bainqen Erdeni died in 1990. On either side of the statue of Tsong Kha-pa is a throne, the one on the left is for Dalai Lama when he came to preach} the one on the right for Bainqen Erdeni. In 1954 Bainqen Erdeni held Buddhist ceremonies here. “Dalai” means vast sea in Mongolian, and “Lama” means teacher in Tibetan.

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