Sangpu Temple: A Hub of Tibetan Buddhist Wisdom
Introduction to Sangpu Temple
Sangpu Temple, also known as Sampunaito Temple (gsang-phu-dgon-pa), is a revered monastic institution located in Liuwu Township within Doilung Dechen District. This temple holds a prominent position as one of the primary monasteries of the Kadam Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It was initially established in the year 1073 AD by the renowned Kadam sect translator, O. Lebishe Rao. Subsequently, it underwent significant expansion under the guidance of the great translator O. Lodensi Rao. Initially named “Neiwutuo Temple” (snevu-thog), it later adopted the name “Sampu Temple.”
Birthplace of Buddhist Teachings
Sampu Temple holds a special place in Tibetan Buddhism as it is considered the birthplace of Buddhist teachings. Its history and teachings date back to the early fifteenth century when it transitioned to the Gelug Sect.
Promoting Intellectual Pursuits
This monastery is renowned in Tibet for its emphasis on the study of Yinming, a branch of Buddhist logic, and its active engagement in scripture debate activities. Notably, every year in April of the Tibetan calendar, Sampu Temple hosts a month-long, large-scale Dharma conference. During this event, monks from various monasteries near Lhasa gathered to engage in rigorous scripture debates and deliver enlightening lectures.
A Treasure Trove of Art and Spirituality
Sangpu Temple’s halls are adorned with numerous Buddha statues, each representing a symbol of spiritual devotion. Additionally, the temple houses priceless artefacts, including the awning of two revered masters, Yachu· Sangjiebei and Rongdun·Mawei Sengge, a protector donning black leather armour, and the sacred coffin pagoda of the great translator Chaba (also known as Choji Sengge). Chaba, who served as the sixth head of Sangpu Temple (chos-kyi-seng-ge), played a vital role in its history.
Sangpu Temple, with its rich heritage and commitment to intellectual pursuits, stands as a beacon of wisdom and spirituality in the world of Tibetan Buddhism.
Notable Figures in Sangpu Temple’s History
1. Russian·Lei Bixirao
Russian·Lei Bixirao, a significant figure in the eleventh century, embarked on a journey of spiritual significance. He returned to Tibet, where he, along with others, established the Zana Monastery near Lhasa, where he diligently preached scriptures. In 1045, he chose the path of monastic life and later ventured to Kham to deepen his understanding of Dharma under the guidance of Sai Zun (Yixi Yun Dan·Zheng). Known as the “Da Russian Translator” of his time, his exact dates of birth and death remain unknown. His early years were marked by following Lu Mei, a prominent teacher.
2. Atisha and the Establishment of Sangpu Monastery
Following the arrival of Atisha in Tibet, he played a pivotal role in the spiritual landscape. He dedicated himself to studying Dharma under Atisha and, in 1073, founded Sangpu Monastery. Atisha was instrumental in the translation and revision of numerous Yinming’s books, earning recognition as a distinguished translator. Upon his passing, his nephew, Rodan Sherao, assumed the role of Khenpo at Sangpu Temple.
3. Russia·Luo Danxi Rao
Russia·Luo Danxi Rao, another luminary in Tibetan Buddhism, returned to Tibet after studying abroad. He briefly pursued Tantric Dharma studies in Nepal before becoming a prominent translator. His lectures in locations such as Lhasa and Samye attracted over 23,000 disciples. In 1093, he embarked on a journey of spiritual growth at the young age of 35. He received assistance from Wangqiude, the son of Zide, during his studies in Kashmir. Notably, at the age of 17, he participated in the “Year of the Fire Dragon Dharma Conference” in Ngari with fellow translators Re and Nian. His contributions to Tibetan Buddhism included expounding the “Five Treatises of Cishi” and the Sutra of Madhyamaka across various regions of Tibet. His most significant contribution was the translation and introduction of the Dharmakirti Yin Ming Xue treatise, paving the way for the development of the new Yin Ming Xue tradition in Tibet.
These historical figures have left an indelible mark on the spiritual heritage of Sangpu Temple and Tibetan Buddhism as a whole, shaping its teachings and traditions for generations to come.