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Shalu Monastery

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Shalu Monastery or Ṣalu Monastery (which should have the initial S with a grave accent) (Tibetan: ཞྭ་ལུ།, Wylie: Zhwa-Lu, ZYPY: Xalu; simplified Chinese: 夏鲁寺; traditional Chinese: 夏魯寺; pinyin: Xiàlǔ Sì) is small Monastery 22 km south of Shigatse In Tibet. Founded in 1040 by Chetsun Sherab Jungnay, for centuries it was renowned as a centre of scholarly learning and psychic training and its mural paintings were considered to be the most ancient and beautiful In Tibet. Shalu was the first of the major Monasteries to be built by Noble families of the Tsang Dynasty during Tibet's great revival of Buddhism, and was an important center of the Sakya tradition.

Shalu Monastery (Wyl. zhwa Lu) is located near Shigatsé in Tsang. It began as a series of small temples established by Chetsün Sherab Jungne in 1027 and grew to become one of the most important centres of learning In Tibet, largely through the influence of the great scholar Butön Rinchen Drup (1290-1364), who resided there for most of his Life.

'Shalu' means 'new bud' in Tibetan Language. An interesting anecdote lies behind this interesting name. A monk named Jigzun Xerab Qoinnyai wanted to build a Monastery to spread doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism. He consulted his Teacher about the construction site. His teachers suggested a site where a shooting arrow fell. The arrow fell in a new bud, hence the Name.

The main structure is architecturally distinctive. The hall has an arch-like ceiling covered with glazed tiles. The steep eaves are like the wings of a flying bird. The structure is a complete replica of inland temples. The Monastery consists of two floors. On the first floor lies a main hall for assembly, covering an area of 1,500 sq meters (1,794 sq yard). The Statues of Sakyamuni and his disciples are worshiped there. On either side of the hall stands a Sutra depository, where two important classics of Tibetan Buddhism - Tanjur and Kanjur are exhibited. The layout of the second floor is a typical Chinese quadrangle. The four halls stand in a symmetrical Order. The murals are exquisitely painted and vivid, demonstrating the features of the Yuan Dynasty's paintings. The portrait of Bodhisattva preserved here is quite different from those of other temples. The artistic style is a combination of Chinese inland and exotic culture.

The four treasures enhanced the charm of Shalu Monastery. The first treasure is the Printing board of Tibetan Buddhist Scripture. It is made up of 108 blocks of sandalwood and has a long history of 700 years. Having a piece of the Sutra board is believed to be very lucky by worshipers. The second is a holy jar made of brass. It is covered and sealed by a piece of red cloth. The water in the jar is said to be the purest water in the World. The water, renewed every 12 years, can cure 108 kinds of diseases and cleanse away filth and dirt. The third is a stone tablet inscribed with six characters. Its edge is engraved with four delicate small pagodas, which were excavated during the construction. The fourth treasure is a huge stone like a basin. It is said the basin would not overflow even if filled on the rainiest day. The Living Buddha Jigzun Xerab Qoinnyai who built the Shalu Monastery always washed his face in the stone basin.

Monastery is 22 km south of Shigatse In Tibet. It is a small Monastery founded in 1040 by Chetsun Sherab Jungnay. The Monastery is famous for its special position a centre of scholarly learning and psychic training for centuries. Another well-known esthetic achievement in the Monastery are its mural paintings, which, according to some Tibetan people, are the most ancient and the most beautiful In Tibet. The Monastery was also the first of the major Monasteries that was built by Noble families of the Tsang Dynasty, during the great period of Tibet's revival of Buddhism. Thus, it then became an important center of the Sakya tradition.

Destroy and Rebuilding

In 1329, the Monastery was destroyed by a devastating earthquake. In 1333, local lords rebuilt the Monastery. The construction work was under the command of the Mongol Emperor of China, that is how in the new architectural framework, the dominate style was those Mongolian styles. The rebuilt Monastery has massive inward-sloping walls around a main courtyard and strong woodwork and glazed roof tiles from Qinghai.

The 11th Abbot Buton Rinchen Drub

In the 1330s, that was the Time of the new establishment of this Monastery, Shalu Temple was under the command of the 11th Abbot Buton Rinchen Drub, who lived 1290-1364. At that Time, he was not merely a capable administrator. In a sense, he was quite a versatile man. He was a prodigious scholar, he was writer and he was Tibet's most celebrated historian, even till now. The most renowned contribution Bustn made to Tibetan history was that he actually catalogued all of the Buddhist scriptures at Shalah. He also rearranged some 4,569 religious and philosophical works and formatted them in a logical, coherent Order. His famous book about The History of Buddhism in India and Tibet at Shalu is still used by many Tibetan scholars today.

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The significance of Buton's activity is that the Monastery attracted a greatdeal of attention, and more Buddhist interllectuals around Tibet and India came and studyed in the grounds. The number was incredibly reached as high as some 3000 by the year 1360. The Monastery then became an important epicentre of Esoteric studies and psychic training for centuries after the Death of the 11th Abbot Buton Rinchen Drub. Those who had avowed purpose of lamas and cultivated paranormal abilities were not to become magicians or Miracle workers. The work for them was to attain philosophical Enlightenment, a belief that all earthly phenonoma are a state of the Mind. Gradually, Shalu Temple became known throughout the far east, as its Dedication to these philosophies and its Enlightenment of the Buddhist Faith.

History

A 14th-century depiction of the 11th abbot of Shalu Buton Rinchen (left) and his successor, a wall painting inside the Monastery Young Monk in Shalu Monastery, 2006

In 1329 a devastating earthquake demolished the temple of Shalu but was later rebuilt in 1333 by local lords under the command of the Mongol Emperor of China. The new architectural framework of the Monastery was dominated by Mongolian styles with massive inward-sloping walls around a main courtyard and strong woodwork and glazed roof tiles from Qinghai. At the Time of the new establishment in the 1330s Shalu Temple was under the command of the 11th Abbot Buton Rinchen Drub who lived 1290-1364. Buton was not merely a capable administrator but he is still remembered to this very day as a prodigious scholar and writer and is Tibet's most celebrated historian. Buston catalogued all of the Buddhist scriptures at Shalu, some 4,569 religious and philosophical works and formatted them in a logical, coherent Order. He also wrote there the famous History of Buddhism in India and Tibet which many Tibetan scholars use in their study today.

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Buton's activity inevitably attracted a great deal of attention to the Monastery and brought in other Buddhist intellectuals around Tibet and India to study in the grounds amounting to some 3000 by 1360. After his Death the Monastery became an important centre of Esoteric studies and psychic training for centuries. The avowed purpose of lamas who cultivated paranormal abilities were not to become magicians or Miracle workers but to attain philosophical Enlightenment, a belief that all earthly Phenomena are a state of the Mind. Shalu Temple became known throughout the far east for its Dedication to these philosophies and its Enlightenment of the Buddhist Faith.

However, by the 19th century, the Monastery had become less influential and Tibetan scholars chose to study at the Samye Monastery which had grown to be one of the most politically powerful in the Tibetan lands by this Time. The Monastery fell into ruin and little of the original 1330 structure remains, although the outer wall and the main building with damaged roofs still stands, and a number of 14th century murals on the outer walls of the temple still follow an iconographic scheme developed by the great Buton himself. One of the murals is an allegory in which an elephant representing a human soul evolves through many steps and earthly trials to Nirvana becoming progressively white and purer in the cleansing process. Precise rules are still embedded into the walls on what the Monks should wear, place their Robes and how to behave in the central courtyard Deyangshar. Remnants of former Mandala murals are concealed by over 100 Thanka most of which were embroidered in Hangzou in eastern China in the 1920s. Only two chapels of the Shalu temple are open to tourists although funds were allocated in 1995 for roof repair and the eventual restoration of the fine 14th century structure by 2005.

Inside Shalu Monastery

Shalu Lakhang temple is in the centre of the Monastery. On the ground floor, in the Tshomchen, Sakyamuni and his disciples are enshrined. The chapels flanking it house the Tanjur and the Kanjur Books respectively. Chapels on the roof floor are typical Chinese blue tiled structures, housing Sakyamuni, Buton, and Arhats Buddhas. Massive delicate and old murals cover the walls of the Monastery, mostly depicting stories from The life of the Buddha. Restoration and preservation are badly needed to protect those arts. Inside Treasures

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Shalu has four treasures which are of notable value. One is a Sutra board, which is 700 years old and cannot be reassembled once broken apart, a piece of Sutra printed against the board is regarded as good luck. Another is a brass urn, which is usually covered with a piece of red cloth and sealed; the holy water may clean 108 filths and is changed every 12 years. Another is a stone basin, which was the washbasin of the builder Chetsun Sherab Jungnay dating back to 1040; and another is a stone tablet, which was uncovered in the first construction of Shalu. The tablet displays a Mantra which reads "Om Mani Padme Hum" and has four dagoba carved into it.

Later History

By the 1800s, the position of the Monastery declined. More Tibetan scholars went to study at the Samye Monastery, which had then become one of the most politically powerful in Tibet. Due to this decline, the Monastery fell into ruin that very little of the original 1330 structure remains. Fortunately, the outer wall and the main building, with damaged roofs, stands still. There is also a number of 14th century murals on the outer walls of the temple. Those murals follow an iconographic scheme that was developed by the great Buton himself. Among the murals there is one depicting an allegory about an elephant representing a human soul evolves through many steps and earthly trials to Nirvana, and finally becomes progressively white and purer in the cleansing process.

On the walls still remain those rules about a Monk's proper behaviours. Those rules includes what the Monks should wear, place their Robes and how to behave in the central courtyard Deyangshar. In the 1920s, the eastern China city Hangzou housed most of the remnants of former Mandala murals, which were concealed by over 100 Thanka. Nowonly two chapels of the Shalu temple are available for tourists. In 1995, funds were allocated for the repairing of the roof. By the year of 2005, the eventual restoration of the fine 14th century structure should be completed.

Structure

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The centre of the Monastery is the famous Shalu Lakhang temple. On the ground floor of the Tshomchenenshrine Sakyamuni and his disciples. The chapels next to it contains the Tanjur and the Kanjur Books respectively. Those chapels on the roof floor follow the typical Chinese blue tiled structures. They houses Statues of Sakyamuni, Buton, and Arhats Buddhas. The walls of the Monastery are covered by massive delicate and old murals. Most of those murals depict the stories of The life of the Buddha. However, those arts need strong restoration and preservation.

Four Treasures

There are totally four treasures here. First is a Sutra board. It can be dated back to as early as 700 years ago. It can never be reassembled if it has been broken apart. Besides, there is a piece of Sutra printed against the board. People believe it could bring good luck. The second treasure is a brass urn. It is usually covered with a piece of red cloth and sealed. And people believe that the holy water may clean 108 filths and is changed every 12 years. The third one is a stone basin, dating back to the year 1040. It was the washbasin of the builder Chetsun Sherab Jungnay. The last treasure is a stone tablet uncovered in the first construction of Shalu. The tablet has four dagoba carved into it. On the tablet there is a Mantra, reading "Om Mani Padme Hum".

On May 13, 2009, the repair and reconstruction of Shalu Monastery work was carried out. The project may spend more than 16 million RMB yuan on the project. Below is a prefectural government official's saying:

"The project, one of Tibet's biggest heritage renovation projects under the 11th Five Year Plan (2006-2010), involves reinforcement of its buildings, maintenance of sewage treatment facilities and improvement of Fire and flood control systems".

Repair and reconstruction of Shalu Monastery began on May 13, 2009, according to the Chinese government Xinhua online news. "The project, one of Tibet's biggest heritage renovation projects under the 11th Five Year Plan (2006-2010), involves reinforcement of its buildings, maintenance of sewage treatment facilities and improvement of Fire and flood control systems", a prefectural government official said. It is planned to spend more than 16 million RMB yuan on the project.

Source

Wikipedia:Shalu Monastery