Lenpa (lan Pa)

Tibetan Renaissance Seminar > Structured Monastery Entry > Lenpa


Contributor(s): Chelsea Hall, Luke Wagner.

General information

Namelan pa
Periodsince at least the early 11th century
Sectarian affiliation 
Source of informationthe Blue Annals
LocationIt is located in the Phen region (Penyül, ‘phan yul), a valley just north of Lhasa
Cultural locationnear Lhasa
Location's languageTibetan
Location description 
Blue Annals References259; 260; 311; 458; 884; 904;

Historical Summary

Lenpa is in the Phen region (Penyül, ‘phan yul), a valley north of Lhasa. Its historical significance lies in the fact that, according to the Blue Annals, it is one of the four places (the other three being Nyéthang {snye thang}, Lhasa {lha sa}, and Yerpa {yer pa}) where Atīśa “preached extensively the Doctrine.” He began teaching there after being invited by Kawa śākya Wangchuk (ka ba śākya dbang phyug), but had to subdue a demon residing there after it caused him to fall from the preacher’s chair (R 259-260). The Blue Annals also indicates that the area around Lenpa was filled with “rose bushes,” though this may simply be a metaphor. Rose bushes are first mentioned when the Dharmasvāmin of Gyadrak (rgya brag), Yeshé Zhönnu (ye shes gzhon nu), “felt the wonderful scent of morality” pervading the area, but his friend Zhönrin (gzhon rin) dismisses this feeling as “the scent of rose bushes” (R 884). It is later mentioned that Dro (sgro) practiced meditation “amidst the rose bushes of lan pa” (R 904).

Passages from The Blue Annals

  • R 259-260 - After the Master (Atīśa) had been invited by ka ba śākya dbang phyug, he preached extensively at lan pa spyil bu of 'phan yul. One day the Master fell from the preacher's chair, and said: "There is a great demon here! Why did you not inform me?" And he then addressed the demon: "Be ready!" and having performed the sādhāna of Hayagrīva accompanied by four ḍākiṇīs, he subdued (the demon). Thus snye thang, lha sa, yer pa and lan pa, are the places where the Master preached extensively the Doctrine.
  • R 311 - kam pa shes rab 'od, one of the four sons of dgon pa pa: When the Master (Atīśa) was visiting lan pa spyil bu, his mother asked to be blessed by the Master, who said to her: "This one will have a virtuous son!" According to this prophecy, (a boy) was born to her at Lower lan pa in the year Fire Female Hen (me mo bya – 1057 A.D.). On being ordained, he received the name of shes rab 'od.
  • R 458 - When he (sgam po pa) came, to gyer to interview the kalyāṇa-mitra sgre pa, the latter said to him: "Should you accept the Religious Protector of our lan pa monastery, he would favour you a great deal". At that time sgam po pa did not accept this Religious Protector.
  • 884 - He (Dharmasvāmin of rgya brag ye shes gzhon nu) felt great sadness, and having gone away, he associated himself with the upādhyāya gzhon rin, and visited the rgya brag Dharmasvāmin ye shes gzhon nu, who was residing in the upper part (phu) of lan pa in 'phan yul. As soon as they had reached the lower part of this valley, he felt the wonderful scent of morality (pervading it). He asked: "Friend gzhon rin, do you feel it?", and the latter replied: "I don't feel it, but it is probably the scent of the rose bushes".
  • 904 - sgro practised meditation for 29 years amidst the rose-bushes of lan pa ('phan yul). He had a vision of Avalokiteśvara, and his understanding reached perfection.


the Blue Annals