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Dentik Monastery is located about thirty miles east of Bayan[1] [County Seat] and is under the jurisdiction of Sershung[2] Township of Bayan County in Domé. Dentik Monastery is situated on the northern side of the Ma River[3] and lies in the middle of the majestic and precipitous Ama Drakmoché Mountain.[4] This monastery is one of the oldest in Tibet, having been constructed in the latter part of the ninth century. Dentik’s monasterial estate encompassed the three villages of Ché, Pa, and Kha[5] as well as the twelve villages of Upper and Lower Kho Yar.[6]

When King Langdarma[7] suppressed Buddhism in the ninth century, Tibet’s famous Three Great Scholars[8] came and stayed at the greatly glorious Chuwori Meditation Center,[9] where they engaged in study and meditation. At that time, the Three Great Scholars: Mar Śākyamuni, Yo Gejung, and Tsang Rabsal,[10] aware of the suppression of Buddhism [in Central Tibet], brought the Vinaya Scriptures with them to Dentik Shelgyi Yang Monastery[11] on the back of a mule and resided there for a long time. Today, the meditation building of these three excellent ones is known as Gomchen (Main Meditation Hall).

Then due to the merit acquired through Buddhist practice in former lives and karmic imprints, a child called Müsu Salwar from Gyazhu Village[12] turned up at Dentik one day. He developed a strong faith in Buddhism and then asked to take vows. So, Tsang Rabsal acted as abbot and Yo Gejung presided as master to administer monastic vows to the young boy. He was given the ordination name Gewa Rabsal,[13] taken from the names of the abbot and master. Since the boy’s heart was so generous, he became known as Gongpa Rabsal. [Years later] he was given full ordination with the name Lachen Gongpa Rabsal.[14]

Ten men from Central Tibet,[15] including Pakhor Yeshé Yungdrung,[16] came to Dentik to pay homage to the Great Lama Gongpa Rabsal. They wore monks’ attire, took full ordination vows, and listened to teachings, such as those on the Vinaya. Then the ten men returned to Central Tibet, beginning the Later Transmission of the dharma. Due to this, it is said that the rekindling of the dharma started in Domé. Today in Main Meditation Hall of Dentik Monastery, there are many statues and images of The Three Great Scholars, Lachen Gongpa Rabsel, and the ten men from Central Tibet.

In the sixteenth century when the Third Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Sönam Gyatso,[17] was forty-one years old in the Water Sheep Year (1583), he went to Kumbum and Jakyung Monasteries[18] on the invitation of the leader of a local tribe called Shingkyong Nang So.[19]

From there, he went to the power place of Dentik to practice meditation in a cave for some time. While dwelling in this cave, which is now called Drubchen or “The Cave of Spiritual Accomplishments”, he composed a few sections of teachings on The Five Deities of Cakrasaṃvara,[20] after a vision of Śrī Cakrasaṃvara. Physical imprints left after his meditation sessions can still be seen today. These imprints, which look like prints left in clay, are in the shape of his hat, the back of his body, and his head. On the cave ceiling, there are many imprints left from poking his finger into the clay above. There is also the hoofprint of Palden Lhamo’s donkey on the rock.

In the eighteenth century,[21] a great master called Arik Geshé Gyaltsen Öser[22] lived in this place and performed many spiritual accomplishments in the retreat hut. In the thirty-first year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1776), the main assembly hall called Darjeling was also constructed here under the behest of Tseten Abbot Palden Gyatso and his Secretary Jamyang Drakpa. [In the nineteenth century,] the Thirteenth Dalai Lama Tubten Gyatso[23] bestowed great blessings here when he consecrated many religious objects and left handprints on many religious paintings. Over ten of these blessed religious paintings can still be seen today.

The famous sites which can be visited today include Rāza Cave,[24] where Prince Siddhārtha stayed for twelve years engaging in the arduous intention of a bodhisattva, Amnyé Lügyal Temple, natural manifesting religious images of Maitreya, and naturally manifesting images of the Twenty-One Tārās and the Sixteen Arhats. In addition, Buddha images painted in Dunhuang style, said to date back to the Tibetan Imperial period, can be viewed on the rocks above [Amnyé Lügyal Temple] and the path from the main temple to [Yangtik] at Tepa.[25]

Approximately seventy monks currently reside at Dentik Monastery. The Fourteenth Incarnation of Tseten Abbot, the Honorable Ngawang Losang Tenpé Gyaltsen,[26] and the Seventh Tseten Shabdrung, the Honorable Losang Jampal Norbu,[27] both oversee the three main tasks ensuring the proper running of Dentik Monastery: adhering to laws and customs, carrying out seasonal prayer obligations, and following monthly dharma practices. Hence it is a practice center everyone praises in all aspects of its function.

[1] Ch. Hualong zhen

[2] Ch. Jinyuan xiang

[3] Ma chu; Ch. Huanghe

[4] a ma brag mo che. This is part of the southern branch of the Tsongla Ringmo Range (Ch. Laji shan).

[5] dpyid, pa, kha

[6] kho yar stod smad

[7] rgyal po glang dar ma, BDRC P2MS13219

[8] mkhas pa mi gsum

[9] dpal chen chu bo ri sgom grwa

[10] dmar śākya mu ne, BDRC P4643; g.yo dge ba'i 'byung gnas, BDRC P4339; gtsang rab gsal, BDRC P4642

[11] dan tig shel gyi yang dgon, BDRC G314

[12] mu gzu gsal bar and rgya zhu sde grong (now Xunhua County)

[13] dge ba rab gsal

[14] bla chen dgongs pa rab gsal, 832?–915?, BDRC P1523

[15] dbus gtsang

[16] spa khor/gong ye shes g.yung drung, BDRC P3899

[17] rgyal ba bsod nams rgya mtsho, 1543–1588, BDRC P999

[18] sku 'bum dgon pa, BDRC G160; bya khyung dgon pa, BDRC G161

[19] zhing skyong nang so

[20] bde mchog lha lnga

[21] The original Tibetan states that he arrived in the seventeenth century, however, this individual was born in 1728.

[22] a rig dge bshes rgyal mtshan 'od zer, 1728–1803, BDRC P4235

[23] ta la'i bla ma 13 thub bstan rgya mtsho, 1876–1933, BDRC P197

[24] rwa dza/rA dza

[25] yang tig; this pa

[26] ngag dbang blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan

[27] tshe tan zhabs drung 07 blo bzang 'jam dpal nor bu

Photo Credit: XXXXXXXX

Published: October 2021






Dentik Monastery: The Sacred Place where the Ashes of Dharma Rekindled in Domé


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Associated People

Mar Śākyamuni

Yo Gejung

Tsang Rabsal

Lachen Gongpa Rabsal

Pakhor Yeshé Yungdrung

The Third Dalai Lama, Sönam Gyatso

Arik Geshé Gyaltsen Öser

Tseten Abbot Palden Gyatso

Secretary Jamyang Drakpa

The Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso

Ngawang Losang Tenpé Gyaltsen

The Seventh Tseten Shabdrung, Losang Jampal Norbu


Nicole Willock 



Dentik Monastery: The Sacred Place where the Ashes of Dharma Rekindled in Domé