Bon religion is a native religion in Tibet, dating back more than 3,800 years. Its founder was a master of gShen rab mi bo who born in the Ali region of Tibet in 1917 BC. Before Buddhism was officially introduced to Tubo in the 7th century, various tribes on the Tibetan plateau generally believed in Bon religion.
Bon religion worship nature, including sun, moon, stars, mountains, rivers, lakes, cattle, sheep, animals and so on. Holy dance, sacrifice, divination, mantra and exorcism are their main rituals.
Based on the extensive and profound ancient Zhang zhung culture, absorbing the cultural essence of the surrounding areas, the Bon religion formed the unique Tibetan religious culture.
History and Development of Bon Religion
"Bon", as a belief of ancient ancestors on the high plateau, has a very long history. Shenrab Mivo was the first founder in the mortal world. In legend, the founder came from the heaven, and gave birth by the body of mortal parents. Shenrab Mivo made a complete theory system and religious rules of the Bon, and constantly established and improved the corresponding classics, temples, etc. Different from the earlier Bon, It was called Yong Chung Bon.
Bon Religion’s development can be roughly divided into three periods: the first period, the second period are before the Srongtsen Gampo established the Tibetan Empire, the third period started from the Tubo Dynasty.
The First Period: It was said that there was a teenager in ancient Tibet. When he was 13 years old, he was attached by the devil. After another 13 years, he traveled Kang (now Ganzi in Sichuan) and Tibet. At the age of 26, he recovered and got the magic to subdue devils. He initiated the way to subdue Demons, and ordered them to repent and service for human well-being. This is the original Bon, academically called "Dule Bon", commonly known as "black religion."
The second period: During the second period, the Bon was promoted by three warlockeds. It was said that one of them can stand on the surface of the valley and fly into the sky, and the iron could cut into pieces with a feather. Another can show a variety of other supernatural powers, the third person can bring the dead expel evil.
The third period: The Bon was carried forward at the beginning of the third period by Lanweishengzhe. He proposed a "carnal knowledge" and the theory of obtaining relief by suicide. During the Tibetan Empire, Buddhism was introduced and spreading in Tibet. The Bon and Buddhism had intense conflict, and Trisong Detsen held a public evaluation, and Bon was fail in this evaluation. Later it assimilated with Buddhism. During the 837 – 842, it obviously that Bon absorbed lots of doctrine from Buddhism. And it is customarily called “White Bon” during this period.
Bon’s cmpletion period is at the Zhang Zhung Era. During which period, Bon get religion thoughts from South Asia, Center Asia and other areas.
Sects and religious life
In the beliefs of Bon, all the things in nature, including sky, earth, sun, moon, lightning, thunder, animals and plants, have spirits themselves and worthy of worshipping. Earlier followers only indulged in the activities of divination, prayer, ghost-exorcising, sacrifice and others by sometimes using some supernatural magic, later they absorbed some essence of Buddhist sutras and formed their own classic Dharmas and a series of regulations. According to its development, Bon can be divided into three sects, namely Brdol Bon, Vkhyr Bon and Bsgyur Bon.
• Brdol Bon
The six generations later after Nyatri Tsenpo, when Dachi Tsenpo ruled Tibet, a man named Ruxin, who was a wizard. He summarized each kind of witchcrafts and connected Bon’s believer in each area, forming a sect “Brdol Bon”, which also named Black Bon.
• Vkhyr Bon
This is a sect created by Bon believers from other places. The three wizards brought doctrines of Bon, which ended the history of the Bon only focusing on witchcrafts. But there were no characters at that time, so the doctrines could only be passed down by oral transmission.
• Bsgyur Bon
It was formed after Buddhism being introduced to Tibet. In the fight between Bon and Buddhism, for Bon’s survival and development, Bsgyur Bon was formed. The Bsgyur Bon means the Bon which make translation.
Many Tibetan people still believe Bon is their religion, but the Bon hasn't got monasteries. Buddhism has a lot of monasteries. The typical Tibetan flags on hills are to control the spirits in the mountains. They are from the Bon. The mills containing mantra's are from the Buddhism. So the 2 religions live together in peace and respect each other. The Chinese invaders do not respect any of these religions. Maybe some day the Tibetan people will have a new religion, but for our concern that must not be in the near future.
As a major part of Tibetan culture, the Bon religion has a wide and far-reaching influence in Tibet and is the enlightenment culture of the Tibetan people. It preserves a large number of complete spiritual and cultural heritage of Tibetan culture in the primitive times. The world outlook, ethical thoughts and living customs of the Tibetan people are all closely related to the Bon religion in Tibet.
Although Bon Religion is the original one in Tibet, it is also influenced by the Buddhism. And Bon and the Buddhism are very close connected to each other. The Bon religion as it is now looks more like the Buddhism. The 2 religions have been mixed.