The Buddhism that developed in the Himalayas is known as Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism. Among the Buddhist schools, Tibetan is one of the most practiced and best-known schools, followed by 6% of all Buddhists.
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Tibetan Buddhism is practiced mostly in Bhutan, Mongolia, Ladakh (India) and Tibet, as well as there are important Lamaist Buddhist minorities in Sikkim (India), Nepal and the regions of ethnic Mongols from Russia such as Buryatia, Kalmykia, and Tuva, and in Inner Mongolia (China).
This form of Buddhism is predominant in the Mongolian and Tibetan peoples, where everyone recognizes the Dalaí Lama as the great Bodhisattva, for which he is respected and considered the highest spiritual master, despite that each of the schools that practice it has its own hierarchy system.
Having about 20 million followers, 2 of them in the majority in different countries and autonomous regions, Tibetan Buddhism is one of the largest and most important branches of Buddhism.
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This type of Buddhism is associated with the figure of the Lama, who divides Buddhism between monks and laymen. The followers of the Lama, suppose this figure not only with religious relevance but also as the center of the social and economic life of Tibet.
After Mahāyāna Buddhism entered Tibet, a new current began to develop rapidly, Tibetan Buddhism, which with its tantric teachings easily took over northern India from the area of Bengal and Gujarat and spread throughout Tibet, Sri Lanka and China and other places.
Vajrayana Buddhism is part of the Mahāyāna path, however its practitioners not only seek enlightenment to free all beings from suffering, they also want to achieve Buddhahood as soon as possible, even in this very life.
Once Tibetan Buddhism was established various schools and doctrinal approaches arose, one disappeared and others assimilated with each other. Currently there are four main schools that teach the doctrines of the Lama.
The four tibetan schools
Among the doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism, four major main lineages have been formed, despite the existence of other minor currents, these are the most important. Within Tibetan Buddhism the lineage is very important since it guarantees that the teachings are alive, that is, that they have been transmitted from master to disciple, since the time of the Buddha, and most importantly, that it has been done in a pure way and fully understood.
This school arose in the 8th century and is known as the school of the "Nyingmapas" or also known as the "red caps". This school was founded in the 8th century from the legacy of the first instructors of Tibetan Buddhism. The Indian teacher Padmasambhava was the first who, according to Tibetan tradition, subdued the nature deities of Tibet and other forces, making Buddhism the official religion.
Black caps made their appearance in the 9th century, also known as the oral tradition. It was founded by Gampopa, who was a disciple of the holy Tibetan poet Milarepa (1040-1123), who from his contemplative esoteric teachings derived from the Indian mahasids Tilopa and Naropa brought to Tibet by Marpa, the master of Milarepa. The Kagyu School of the Karma Kagyu is headed by S.S. Karmapa.4 is the official and majority school in Bhutan.
Founded by Konchok Gyalpo in the 11th century arose the Sakya school (named after its monastery of origin). Its main teachers are descended from the earliest disciples of the Indian teachers Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita and came from a ruling class family, the Khön, of the southern Tsang region. Its leader is the Sakya Trizin.
From the Kadampa tradition, in the 14th century, the order of the Gelug or Geluk-pa, called the yellow caps, was born. Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1415) was a renovator of the teachings of the great Bengali master of the 11th century, Atisha. Je Tsongkhapa made every effort to bring together a more orthodox and grouping approach to the teachings of Tibet. The leader of it is the Dalai Lama. It is the majority in Mongolia and southern Russia.