Tashi delek, བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས།
Below some informations about Yungdrung Bon. The information stems from Gyurmey the secretary from Triten Norbutse Monastery / Kathmandu.
I hope this information will be of add to get more informed about the Bon Tradition.
.Information About Bon Religion
The Yungdrung Bon was the religion of Tibet from the time of the first Tibetan king until the 8th century. Originally taught by Tonpa Shenrab in the country of Olmo Lungrig, the Yungdrung Bon spread to Tazig, Gilgit, Swat, Kashmir, Zhang-Zhung and finally to Tibet.
Before the Yungdrung Bon came to the lands of Zhang-Zhung and Tibet, the people there worshipped mountain and spirits, and propitiated these with animal sacrifices. Tonpa Shenrab himself came to Tibet, but only briefly, and finding the Tibetans not yet ready to understand his teaching, he merely taught a few offering practices such as the offering of juniper, hanging wool on bushes, the offering of Chang (se chang), and the throwing of tsampa mixed with butter. He only taught practices like these which really have little to do with religion, but he said that in the future he would reveal all of the Nine ways of Bon to the people in those countries. And so when his doctrines later came to Zhang-Zhung and Tibet, the early Shamanistic “Bon” tradition gradually ceased. In the border regions, however, remains of it can still be found, e.g. among the Nepalese Tamangs and also among the Na-khi in China.
The Yungdrung Bon came to Tibet, from the country of Zhang-Zhung, at the time of the first Tibetan King Nyatri Tsanpo. This was long before the monastic system as an institution was established (in the 8th century CE, somewhere between Zhang-Zhung and Tibet). In the early days the Bonpos were laymen, individual masters who specialized in particular subjects belong to the various Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen Teaching. They were not organized as a church, but had common gathering places where they would meet from time to time, and they had among them a high priest.
In those early days each Tibetan king had attached to him a priest with the special function of protecting the king. As it is said in the rGyal-rabs bon qyi ‘byug-nas:
“Each of the political kings had one priest as his guardian and specially practiced a specific kind of Bon. Each king also had a translator attached to him. The first king Nyatri Tsanpo built the castle Tjing Wa Dak Tse in the Yarlung valley south of Tibet, and he settled the village Yarlung there. His wife was Ngam Mo Muk, sometimes called Nam Men Karmo, and his son Mu Tsen Tempo, the 2nd Tibetan King. Nyatri Tsanpo’s and he had three priests Janal, Tse and Djo.”
Nyatri Tsanpo invited Bonpos from Zhang-Zhung to Tibet where 12 kinds of ritual texts (Bon shes-pa bcu-gnyis) were translated from the Zhang-Zhung language into Tibetan. This is well established as a historical fact, but if this was just an oral transmission or whether the texts were actually written down in Tibetan is a matter of dispute. Some say that Tibetan letters did not exist until the 6th century CE. Lopon Tenzin Namdak argues that a Tibetan script did in fact exist much earlier than the 6th century CE, known as sMar-yig. This view is supported by Prof. Namkhai Norbu a.o.
If opinion differs as to whether a Tibetan literature existed at the time of the first king of Tibet, there is no disagreement that it did at the time of his son, the second king, Mutri Tsanpo. Mutri Tsanpo was very well educated and a practitioner of the Yungdrung Bon.
His wife was Sam Men Deng Dingma and his priest was Jowu Lentsa. He built the temple Ko Ma Nechung. Like his father he employed many translators who translated texts from many different languages into Tibetan. He particularly invited many Zhang-Zhungpas, the first to teach the Yungdrung Bon in Tibet being Namkha Nagwa Dogden, and he built 45 gathering places (Duné) for the Bonpo practitioners. Each place had temples and stupas. He thus established a real indigenous Tibetan tradition of teaching and studying such as existed in the neighboring countries of China and India. He himself composed many texts, a.o. prayers to his personal yidam Jyamma. This king is very important to the Yungdrung Bon because he held all the lineages of Sutra, Tantra and DzogChen.
Continuously up until the time of the 8th king (said to be a contemporary of Sakyamuni in India), translations were made from the Zhang-Zhung language into Tibetan. However, with the advent of the 8th king Drigum Tsanpo, this process came to an end.
The pride of this king caused him to be annoyed with the superior status of the Bonpo priests, and he presented them with the ultimatum of either leaving Tibet or suffering persecution.
The Bonpos gathered what they could carry of their sacred books and objects, departed, and somewhere in western Tibet they assembled to discuss what to do. Prominent at this meeting were the 4 great Scholars, the Khepa Gongma zhi: Shari Uchen, Chimtsa Machung, Chetsa Kharbu, and chief among them, the high priest, the Mahasiddha-Tong-jyung Thuchen. Some of them argued. “We must respond wrathfully, with power –we must use the zor!” But Ton-jyung Thuchen said: “No, there is nothing we can do. Whatever we might attempt, the prophesies say that we shall be losing this battle, so we will have to leave, and take with us sacred books and objects, and leave our enemies to do what they will. “Then the others agreed.
They divided among themselves what they have, and dispersed. Some escaped to the southern areas of Bhutan and Sikkim, and started teaching there. Others went to areas in the north, particularly Mongolia. Many went back to Zhang-Zhung.Many hid away.
Tong-jyung Thuchen, the chief, departed for Bhutan, but on the way at the pass Drek Tsem Takgan near Lha Chen, at the backside of Sikkim, a terrible snowstorm arose and he couldn’t cross. He then received a prophesy telling him to hide there whatever books he had brought with him. And he accordingly did so. These texts were re-discovered especially in the 10-11 century CE.
This was the first persecution of the Bonpos in Tibet. The next king, Pude Gung-gyal, tried to repair the damage that his father had done, and asked the priests to come back, esp. Tong jyung Thuchen, and to bring the texts back with them. And some went back, but not many. And as for the texts, the Bonpos replied, they were now entrusted to the protectors of the teachings, and the time was not ready to retrieve them. And furthermore – in the future there would be more problems.
The Yungdrung Bon remained the religion of Tibet up until the time of the 42nd King Tri Tsong Detsen, in the 8th century CE. Influenced by Indian Buddhists, he inaugurated the second persecution of Bon, which, however, has managed to survive to the present day.
Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, recognizes the Bön tradition as the fifth principal spiritual school of Tibet, along with the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, and Gelug schools of Buddhism, despite the long historical competition between the Bön tradition and Buddhism in Tibet.