Jagjit Singh shares his captivating images of a recent trip to a Tibetan monastery in a remote part of Himachal Pradesh, India: “We often talk about the four Tibetan traditions of Buddhism: Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. However there is one more significant Tibetan tradition, called called Bon. In fact Bon is considered to be the Pre-Buddhism tradition of Tibet. I recently took these photos at the Tibetan YungDrung Bon Monastery at Dolanji, also called the Menri Monastery, in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh, India.
In its historical literature, the organized Bon religion traces itself from Tonpa Shenrab , a teacher from the fabled land of Olmo-lungring on the eastern edge of Tagzig, who brought it to Zhang-zhung in the remote, distant past. Zhang-Zhung was an ancient kingdom with its capital in western Tibet near the sacred Mount Kailash. The four Buddhist sects share the same set of monastic vows from India, Mulasarvastivada. Bon has a slightly different set of vows. A prominent difference is that Bonpo monastics take a vow to be vegetarian. The monastics of all traditions shave their heads, remain celibate, and wear the same maroon sleeveless habit, with a skirt and a shawl. Bon monastics merely substitute blue for yellow in the central panels of the vest. There are other differences such as circumambulating counterclockwise rather than clockwise. The Bon morality is a little stricter than the four Buddhist sects.
After the Tibetan upraising which began on 10th March 1959, at Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, many Tibetans fled their homeland and came to India. A group Bonpo Lamas gathered in Kullu-Manali. In 1967 about 70 families shifted to Dolanji and Tibetan Bonpo Foundation was registered. The main temple foundation were laid in 1969 and was completed in 1978. The main purpose of the Monastic centre is to pursue the strict monastic life, education of monks, and performance of religious ceremony.”