Religion and death in the Tibet

A revision to the ritual Tibetan Buddhists


The religion in the Tibet is so important that an ancient traveler said that “the Tibet is a gigantic monastery inhabited by a monks' nation”.

In the middle of the XXth century one of the four men was living in a monastery, situation that was not stopping creating economic problems to the country. Today, ninety-eight per cent of the population declare themselves a Buddhist.

Prayers mills
Prayers mills


The prayers mills are cylinders that turn about his axis and take inside strips of role written with the mantra “om peanut padme hum”. To make to turn the mill is equivalent to pray. It is as if with the draft the prayer was spreading over the space.

The mantras register also in the soil, in the rocks and in the hillsides of the mountains.

Prayers flags
Prayers flags

The multicolored flags have the same purpose: the prayers written in them are thrown to the space on having been beaten by the wind.

The stupas (calls chogten in the Tibet) are monuments that contain relics.

Order them

One order it it is a drawing that is used to help in the meditation. The target of the meditation is to reach the control of the mind.

The word ‘order it’ it means palace and represents the universe, and also the archetype of the labyrinth that is necessary to cover and to come to his center to reach the lighting. It is taken approximately seven years in learning the skill to draw order them.

As Buddha taught, “anything exists, not even the gods”, that's why order them once finished they are destroyed, to mean the ephemeral of all the things.

Order it
Drawing one order it


Considering the importance of the religion, the monasteries are the buildings most typical of the country. It is said that the most ancient of the Tibet is that of Samye. The first Dalai Lama founded in 1447 the monastery of Tashilhunpo (Mountain of the Glory), in Xigatsé, which with 80.000 inhabitants is the most important second city, after the capital Lhasa. Tashilhunpo is the head office of Panche Lama, the second political authority of the Tibet, although at the same level espirirtual that the Dalai. In Tashilhunpo there is the famous golden statue of Buddha Maitreya.

Big tangka
Big tangka

In the Drepung monastery there is celebrated every year a holiday in which there opens the Big Tangka, a gigantic image of Buddha, done of wool, silk and gold, which the monks unroll in the hillside of a mount.


There exist diverse budas, like Avalokitesvara (buda of the compassion), Maitreya (buda of the future) or Tare (the liberator). The belief in the living budas (there is more than one thousand) is the biggest singularity of the Tibetan Buddhism.

When a mud dies, one believes that he will be reborn in the same place or in a nearby place. After certain past time of the death of the mud, the search begins to find his reincarnation. Once found, the child - sometimes of only a few months of age - is recognized officially.

Statue of Maitreya

The death

“Enclosed Buddha died”, say the Tibetan ones to demonstrate the inevitability of the death. The Tibetan ones practise the yoga of the good one to die. They believe that, on having died and before be reincarnating, they happen for the called state the bard, interval between two lives. The Bard Todol, Tibetan book of the dead persons, contains the words to guide to the deceased for the intermediate state. The biggest aspiration of a Tibetan one is that in the hour of his death, a monk reads the book along with his bed.

Tibetan devil
Tibetan devil

The celestial funeral

The deathwatches last sometimes one week. The Tibetan ones practise the called celestial funerals. Indifferent to the changes in the methods of burial of China, they still adhere to their own system, consistent in feeding to the vultures or birds of prey with the bodies of the deceased relatives.

In most of the Chinese cities, the cremation has turned in practice commonly for the burials, although the people of the ethnic group are, most of the Chinese population, it was using in the past the graves to bury his dead persons. The celestial funeral is one of three principal methods that the Tibetan ones use to be sick to the ground to his dear beings. Others two are the cremation and the water funeral.

There is more than one thousand of places in the Tibet dedicated to celestial funerals. Close to eighty per cent of the Tibetan ones he still prefers this type of ritual, which has been observed during hundreds of years. The Chinese central government constructed a modern crematorium in Tibet, but he does not enjoy the favor of the Tibetan ones.

The celestial funeral is closely related to the Buddhism practised in the region of the Himalayas. The Buddhists believe in the reincarnation and think that the spirit of the dead persons goes out of the body at the moment of the death and that the corpses must serve as food to the birds of prey or to the sacred vultures, like last charity sample.

Seguidamente, a video of a celestial funeral, where the descuartizador trocea the corpse of a woman to offer it to the vultures. I must warn that these images are very strong.

Category: Tibet

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On Tuesday, the 22nd September, 2009

4 comments to “Religion and death in the Tibet”

  1. Ariel on On Tuesday, the 22nd September, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Very interesting post.
    I have remained surprised since the celestial funeral was not knowing that thing about.

  2. Carmen on On Wednesday, the 23rd September, 2009 at 5:37 am

    I have loved this entry. Some day I will go to the Tibet, it is one of my obsessions. A hug

  3. Sonu on Wednesday, the 23rd September, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    You nothing will not find that the Chinese have not destroyed, better go to Dharamsala.

  4. on On Wednesday, the 23rd September, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Also I would like going to the Tibet, but I do not know if I am already to resist these altitudes. And also, Sonu is right, the real Tibet is in Dharamsala, where he lives through the Dalai Lama.

    Thanks to all for the comments.

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