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Tibetan name
Tibetan script :
བསམ་ ཡས་
Wylie transliteration :
bsam yas gling
Official transcription of the PRCh :
THDL transcription :
Other spellings:
Samye, Samyä, Samyay
Chinese name
Traditional :
Simplified :
Pinyin :
Sāngyē Sì

Samye is a temple and monastery built as a mandala in Dranang Dzong County , Lhokha administrative district on the north bank of the Yarlung River ( Brahmaputra ), about 60 km southeast of Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China .


Samye, the oldest monastery in Tibet
Samye Monastery 1939
Central Temple 1938
Central temple in Samye today

Samye (“Going beyond all conception”) is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Tibet and was built around 775 under the rule of the Tibetan King Thrisong Detsen (ruled 755-797) at the foot of Mount Hepori . The great tantric master Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita, the abbot of the Indian monastic university of Nalanda , an eminent scholar of the Mahayana - Buddhism , initiated the construction of the plant. Padmasambhava performed the dedication of the temple, and according to tradition, various wonderful signs manifested themselves. The first Buddhist monks in Tibet, the so-called "Seven Chosen" (see below ) , were then ordained in Samye . Officially built to test the suitability of Tibetans for monastic life, it marks the beginning of the Buddhist monastic culture of Tibet at a time when the clashes between Buddhists and followers of Bon - at the same time a power struggle between royalty and nobility - had not yet been decided. Because of these tensions, the first Tibetan monastery was probably built so far away from Lhasa.

At the instigation of Thrisong Detsen, a council of representatives of Indian and Chinese orientations of Buddhism is said to have taken place here in 792 to 794, known as the Council of Samye or the Council of Lhasa .

Samye Monastery was used as a central translation site in the 9th century during the first wave of Buddhist scriptures being translated from Indian Sanskrit into Tibetan. The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism emerged from this translation period and the foundations for the dissemination of the Buddha's teachings in later times were laid. The various temples also served as a place for teachings, initiations and meditation.

During the reign of the Tibetan King Lang Darma (ruled approx. 936 to 942), the practice of Buddhism in Tibet was forbidden, its followers were persecuted and monks were forced to become laypeople. Samye was orphaned as a teaching center of Buddhism during this period. In later centuries, Buddhism, which had been suppressed in its external form, was revived in a new translation phase from the 11th century. This period led to the founding of the Kadampa , Kagyu , Sakya , and a little later, the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism . In this second phase of the spread of Buddhism in Tibet, Samye Monastery no longer had a comparable priority when viewed purely externally. The monastery library stocked with numerous Indian manuscripts burned down in 1810.

Already in the 1930s, the facility, threatened by drifting sand, was almost completely deserted; barely thirty monks still lived here. Like many Tibetan monasteries, Samye was desecrated and looted during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1971). Inestimable cultural assets have been damaged or destroyed.

Prayer wheel in Samye Temple

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–1991), one of the most important Nyingma masters of the 20th century and also a teacher of the current Dalai Lama , inaugurated the temple again towards the end of the 1980s. Today it is administered jointly by the Nyingma and Sakya schools.

The monastery has been on the list of monuments of the People's Republic of China (4-90) since 1996 .


Central temple, stupa and wall

The temple complex is formed around a large three-story central temple which was designed in the style of India, Tibet and China. In The Lotus Born in the Land of Snow it says: “The top floor of the three-story central temple was built in the Indian style, since India is the origin of the Dharma tradition. The middle floor was built in the Chinese style as China was the matriarch. The lower floor was built in the Tibetan style since Tibet was the patriarch. ”. This temple was used in Padmasambhava's time to give initiations to the secret teachings of Vajrayana . It is surrounded on all four sides by temples dedicated to the Bodhisattvas Avalokitesvara , Aryapala , Manjushri and Maitreya , with a total of eight smaller temples in between. Large stupas were built at each of the four corners of the central temple. The temple complex is surrounded by a circular wall with a total of 108 small stupas. Because of these and other peculiarities, Samye is also known as The Unbelievable . The various temples of Samyes were filled with precious statues and various ritual objects.

According to tradition, Padmasambhava enthroned the deity Pekar (Pehar) as the main protector of Samye. A temple within the Samyes complex is therefore known as the Temple of Pekars. Pekar comes from the Mongolian meditation school of Batha Hor and served in his role as protector of Samyes for 700 years until, according to legend, he moved to Nechung, near the Drepung monastery in central Tibet, at the time of the V Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso . Successor in the role of the protector of Samye was the deity Tsiu Marpo .

The seven chosen

The names of the seven chosen ones ( Tibetan སད་ མི་ མི་ བདུན Wylie sad mi mi bdun “seven chosen ones”; simplified Chinese name 七 觉 士; Pinyin Qi jue shi ; English seven men who were tested, etc.) occur in very different translations .

This is:

  • Ba Trizhi ( rba khri gzigs ), alias Nanam Dorje Dudjom ( sna nam rdo rje bdud 'joms )
  • Ba Selnang ( sba gsal snang )
  • Pagor Vairocana
  • Ngenlam Gyelwa Choyang ( rgyal ba mchog dbyangs )
  • Khon Lu'i Wangpo Sungwa ( 'khon klu'i dbang po srung ba )
  • Ma Rinchen Chog ( rma rin chen mchog )
  • Lasum Gyalwa Jangchub ( la gsum rgyal ba byang chub )



  • Guru Padmasambhava: The Secret Doctrine of Tibet. Kösel Verlag, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-466-20439-9 .
  • Yeshe Tsogyal : The lotus born in the land of snow. How Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to Tibet. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-596-12975-3 ( Fischer 12975 Spirit ; biography of Padmasambhava).
  • Padmasambhava: The legend of the great stupa. Dharma Publishing, Münster 1993, ISBN 3-928758-04-7 .


  • Keith Dowman: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel. Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca NY 1996, ISBN 1-55939-065-4 .
  • Mikel Dunham: Samye. A Pilgrimage to the Birthplace of Tibetan Buddhism. Jodere Group, San Diego CA 2004, ISBN 1-58872-083-7 .
  • GW Houston: Sources for a history of the bSam yas debate . VGH-Wissenschaftsverlag, Sankt Augustin 1980, ISBN 3-88280-007-0 ( Monumenta Tibetica historica 1, 2; texts in transcription).

Web links

Commons : Samye  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Robert Bleichsteiner: The yellow church: Mysteries of the Buddhist monasteries in India, Tibet, Mongolia and China . Vienna 1937, pp. 126–127.
  2. Yeshe Tsogyal's biography, p. 70
  3. What is pointed out in Xizang Sangye si : " 巴 赛 囊 (益 西 旺 波), 桑希 、 毗卢遮那 、 甲 哇 却 洋 、 毗 • 鲁 易 旺 波 、 玛 • 仁钦 却 、藏 勒 珠 等七人 (七 人 的 名字 有 多种 不同 的 译法。 另 如 , 最初 受戒 七 人为 : 宝 护 护 、 智 王 护 、 宝 宝 王 护 、 善逝 护 、 遍照 护 、 龙王 护 、 天王 护等等). “- found on September 29, 2010
  4. Gyurme Dorje & Jakob Leschly
Samye (alternative names of the lemma)
bsam yas dgon pa; Sangye si 桑耶寺; Samye Monastery; bsam yas gtsug lay khang

Coordinates: 29 ° 19 ′ 36.1 ″  N , 91 ° 30 ′ 11 ″  E