Tibetan Renaissance Seminar > Gazetteer Entry > Amdo


General Information

Transliteration formmdo
Etymologymdo = sutras, a valley; lower part of a valley, cross-road, junction, confluence, juncture, crossing
Source of informationBlue Annals
Spatial LocationNortheast corner of Tibet
Cultural locationTibet
Location's languageTibetan, Amdo

Discussion of Amdo in the Blue Annals

Amdo is the site of an important event during the Renaissance period. It served as a refuge for the monks who fled Central Tibet during the persecution of Buddhism, allowing the teachings and monastic ordination lineage to persevere. These monks eventually became what is discussed in Davidson’s book as the Eastern Vinaya lineage that ordained many monks, and continued the unbroken line that stretched back to the Buddha. Amdo is also mentioned as the place where the teachings of the Khön were continued as a tradition.

It is frequently mentioned in conjunction with Kham, partially because they are close in proximity but also because from the viewpoint of the Central Tibetan traditions they are considered regions that, although Tibetan, hold different traditions. It is even referred to as a compound occasionally, mdo khams, which could refer to both regions or alternatively may be a designation for the region of Amdo itself, since one meaning of khams is region. Amdo seems to be considered as a whole, rather than citing specific places in Amdo, instead the designation of the whole region is used to describe the destination. If a specific place is mentioned, it is usually a temple. This accentuates the feeling that in many ways it is considered a disparate region. Amdo is frequently cited as a destination for traveling monks and teachers in this way. Finally it is occasionally mentioned as the birthplace of several important teachers and the site of possibly the first Gelugpa monastery.

Blue Annals References

R 63

At the time of the persecution of the Doctrine by dar ma 'u dum btsan, three monks of the meditative monastery (sgom grwa) of dpal C:bo ri — dmar ban Śākyamuni of gyor stod, gyo dge 'byung of drang chung mdo, and gtsangs rab gsal of rgya rab pa, having taken with themselves necessary books on the Vinaya ('dul ba) and the Abhidharma (mngon pa), such as the karmaśataka and other texts, at first fled towards Western Tibet (stod phyogs). Hiding by day, and travelling by night, they reached mnga 'ris. Unable to remain there, they continued their flight towards the country of Hor (hor gyi yul) by the northern route. There they stayed with a certain Hor upāsaka called Śākya shes rab (Śākyajñāna), who helped them. Then they proceeded to sro gu lung in Amdo (mdo smad).

R 418

He first attended on bya khang pa, but later he had faith in 'khon, and received from him the hidden precepts of the Pañcakrama. He pleased 'khon who told him: "This hidden precept of mine is similar to a horse tied up for feeding. It is similar to a hog digging violently in summer! I, the Teacher, having become Master of the Doctrine, must bestow it on you!" In this manner 'khon gladly bestowed precepts on him and pronounced an oath (saying, that the precepts were complete. In ancient times Nepalese and Tibetan teachers used to give an oath on the completion of the bestowing of hidden precepts. This custom still exists in some parts of Amdo and Khams).

R 500

Then the great Emperor tho gan the mur (Toyon% Temür, d. 1370 A.D.) and his son having heard of the fame of the Dharmasvāmin, sent many Mongol and Tibetan envoys to him, such as the ding hu dben dpon and the sde dpon dkon mchog rgyal mtshan and others, with an Imperial command and great presents from the royal prince 'i li ji inviting him to visit (the Imperial Court). Mindful of the great benefit for living beings, the Dharmasvāmin left 'tshur phu on the 20th day of the fifth month of the year Earth-Male-Dog (sa pho khyi 1358 A.D.), aged 19. When a lightning struck at gnam, snying drung and other places, without doing harm to either the inhabitants, or their cattle, he understood it to be an auspicious omen. At the court of the Emperor and in the countries of the North he laboured extensively for the benefit of others, as well as composed numberless treatises. After that he returned to kar ma, where he showed that his usual preoccupations were not disturbed (by such journeys), etc. The regional chiefs of khams received him well and attended on him. They begged him to remove the threat of locusts (cha ga ba) and immediately he removed it. After that he proceeded to tre and composed a treatise named the chos kyi gtam dam pa dges pa'i sgron ma. When he visited kam C:gling (Kanchou in Kan-su), there appeared near the preacher's chair (F:43a) (chos khri) a flower unseen previously in that region, with a hundred stalks springing up from one root, each stalk having a hundred flowers, each flower having a thousand golden leaves with a red centre and yellow stamen. All onlookers (R:501) on seeing it became filled with amazement. The region was afflicted by plague. He subdued the disease for many years. When he had reached ga chu he received another invitation from the Emperor, but thought that a change (gyur bzlog) of events was imminent. Journeying through the country of tsha 'phrang nag po, he reached the mi nyag rab sgang. He arranged for a twenty five years' truce in the war between sgo and ldong. When he was residing on the mountain of 'an 'ga bo, many officials came to him with an invitation from the Emperor, among them shes rab gu shrI and others, who brought with them large presents. He then proceeded towards Amdo (mdo smad).

R 595 - 8.11.1 ‘bri khung pa’s precious descendents

Among his precious descendants, who were seen and heard by us, and who were fond of solitary life and renunciation, were two precious brothers. lho rin po che grags pa yon tan was born in the year Fire Female Hog (me mo phag 1347 A.D.). He obtained hidden precepts from the Dharmasvāmin rol pa'i rdo rje and others. He spent his time in meditation only. He became the spiritual teacher of the lho pas of Upper khams, and (thus) became known as lho rin po che. He passed away at the age of 68. shar rin po che was born in the year Wood Male Horse (shing pho rta 1354 A.D.) and made extensive studies of the Piṭaka. Having become the spiritual teacher of the shar pas of Amdo (mdo smad), he became known as shar rin po che. He also became the spiritual teacher of the king and queen. He rendered numerous services to the monasteries, such as rwa sgreng, (R:596) gsang phu and others. He passed away at the age of 74 in the year Fire Female Sheep (me mo lug 1427 A.D.). (F:84b)

R 607 - 8.11.9 disciples and disciples of disciples

dpal shrI ri phug pa: He studied under 'jig rten mgon po and obtained spiritual realization. He journeyed to Amdo (mdo smad), performed there various works, and built the temple of yul skyong.

R 647

At the age of 22, in the year Wood Male Dragon (shing pho 'brug 1424 A.D.) he came to the abbot's chair, and acted as abbot during 7 years, until the Iron Male Dog year (Icags pho khyi 1430 A.D.). After that he became an ascetic, wandered through all the uplands and lowlands, and looked after the welfare of others. He then transferred his residence to a hut (gzims spyil). At the end (of his life), he journeyed slowly to kong po and mdo khams, and looked after numerous disciples. He passed away at the age of 46 in the year Earth Male Dragon (sa pho 'brug 1948 A.D.) in mdo khams.

R 696 - i. U rgyan pa’s Family Lineage

dpal rgod tshang pa’s spiritual son was the mahāsiddha U rgyan pa. His family lineage: At dbyar mo thang of Amdo there was one byang chub gzhon nu of rgyu sa. He was a direct disciple of the ācārya padma, and was the chaplain of king khri srong Ide btsan. His son was byang chub mchog. His son—byang chub yon tan. (F:129b) The latter had two sons: byang chub rgya mtsho and chos kyi rgya mtsho.

R 1073 - 8.13.11 byang chub rgya mtsho

Note 1: he was a native of Amdo and studied in Central Tibet. He founded the famous monastery of bya khyung dgon pa in Amdo /near pa yen/, which is considered to have been the first of all the dge lugs pa monasteries (R).