The Education System in Bhutan from 747 AD to the First Decade of the Twenty-First Century

Authored by: Tandin Wangmo , Kinga Choden

Handbook of Asian Education

Print publication date:  December  2010
Online publication date:  November  2010

Print ISBN: 9780805864458
eBook ISBN: 9780203816318
Adobe ISBN: 9781136721298


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Bonism was the main religion practiced by the early inhabitants of Bhutan, whereby people worshiped deities believed to dwell in the different elements of nature, such as mountains, rocks, rivers, and the trees. However, during and after the reign of Emperor Ashoka (273–232 BC), Buddhism spread to all parts of India, China, Japan, and South-East Asia, including Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. Buddhist saints and sages visited Bhutan especially for meditation. Therefore, the first advent of Buddhism in Bhutan dates back to around the third century BC, long before the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava in the eighth century ad. However, because Bonism had such a strong influence on the people of Bhutan, Buddhism did not take real root until Guru Padmasambhava’s arrival in 747 ad. This year is considered to when the advent of Buddhism in Bhutan occurred for the second time. The Buddhism that prevailed in Bhutan before the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava was the Theravada tradition of Buddhism which is also known as “the Lesser Vehicle.” Since 747 AD, the Mahayana (“Greater Vehicle”) tradition of Buddhism has flourished in Bhutan.

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