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Chimpu Gazeteer Entry

NameChimpu (འཆིམས་ཕུ།མཆིམས་ཕུ)
Transliteration form’chims phu/mchims phu
Source of informationRoerich, George N. The Blue Annals, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996 (Reprint), THDL Gazeteer (, (TBRC #G3528)
Spatial LocationNeighbor to Samye Monastery
ProvinceTibet Autonomous Region
DistrictDranang (gra nang rdzong)
Cultural locationCentral Tibet
Location's languageCentral Tibetan
Blue Annals References40, 44, 174, 194, 201, 260, 277, 492, 823, 828, 844, 1070

General Information

Located about 1.5 hours by tractor from Samyé Monastery, Chimpu has been an important location in Tibet’s sacred landscape since the first major monastery was built. A few years after the erection of Samyé (bsam yas) Monastery, (c. 787-791 C.E), a meditative monastery (sgom grwa) was built at Chimpu. According to Gö Lotsawa, this was a period of strong interest in and promotion of Buddhism throughout Central Tibet (R44). Today, Chimpu remains an important meditation place, its meditation caves and nunnery are still in use.

Chimpu in the Blue Annals

Chimpu, also referred to as Samyé Chimpu (bsam yas mchims phu), is a hermitage area near Samyé Monastery. While there are only twelve mentions of Chimpu in the Blue Annals, many of these are extremely rich in their descriptions of how the place was viewed during Gö Lotsawa’s lifetime. For example, the first mention of the hermitage in the Blue Annals is in reference to its importance during the reign of Songtsen Gampo’s nephew, Tride Tsukten (khri lde gtsug brtan). According to Gö Lotsawa’s account, one of the king’s ministers discovers a copper plate in a ravine near the hermitage, inscribed with the words of Songtsen Gampo: “My nephew bearing my name with the addition of the word ‘lde,’ will spread the Doctrine of the Buddha” (R40). This discovery served as the impetus for the king to promote Buddhism in various ways, including inviting Buddhist priests from China and Khotan, and building multiple viharas throughout Central Tibet. Gö Lotsawa emphasizes that, while Tride Tsukten’s support of Buddhism led to significant proliferation of the religion in Tibet, Tibetans still did not accept the concept of ordination at this time. The implication is that, although Buddhism was embraced very soon after its initial introduction, some aspects of the religion were not absorbed until somewhat later.The discussion of Chimpu in the Blue Annals is interesting because it emphasizes the influence and importance of the hermitage in Tibet’s sacred landscape from this early moment in the history of Buddhism in the region.

Throughout the Blue Annals, Chimpu is mentioned as an important hermitage, where many advanced practitioners went to meditate and teach, including Nyang Shenrap Chungné (myang shes rab ’byung gnas), Nyang Changchup Drakpa (myang byang chub grags pa, also known as myang sha ba can), and Tsangpa Kyukpo (gtsang pa khyung po).

When Atīśa went to Samyé, he also went to Chimpu to teach the Dohā, the Cycle of the Drupnying (grub snying), and the (tantric) practice of Samantabhadracaryā (kun tu bzang po’i spyod pa) to Dromstö (’brom ston). While these brief discussions of Chimpu do not mention which teachings were occurring on the grounds of Samyé Monastery itself, it seems that if residents and visitors of Samyé wanted to transfer any secret initiations, they went up to Chimpu in order to do so. The teachings mentioned in the Blue Annals in association with Chimpu are generally tantric or otherwise secret in nature, or they emphasize the central importance of solitary meditation (R174-5, for example). Besides the copper plate bearing the testament of Songtsen Gampo (mentioned above), there were other treasures discovered at Chimpu, including the teachings of Vimala. These were discovered and later taught by the terton Zang Tashi Dorje (zang bkra shis rdo rje) (1097-1167), who according to Gö Lotsawa, was guided to Chimpu by the god Vajrasādhu and the wrathful Ekajāṭi (R193-4). The Hayagrīva initiations were also bestowed at Chimpu.

The suggestion throughout the Blue Annals is that any time practitioners went to Samyé, they also visited Chimpu. While Chimpu is much smaller in comparison to its neighbor, when the hermitage is mentioned in the Blue Annals, it is discussed with great detail, which highlights the significance of the hermitage.

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