Gnas Nang

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Nenang (གནས་ནང་)

by Ben Deitle

General information

NameNenang (གནས་ནང་)
Variant namesgnas nang dgon
Period14th c. to present
Transliteration formgnas nang
Etymologyliterally: “place-inside”
Sectarian affiliationkaM tshang bka’ bgyud
Source of informationTBRC Place RID: G194; George Roerich, trans., The Blue Annals (Delhi: Motialal Banarsidass, 1976); Hugh Richardson, High Peaks, Pure Earth (London: Serindia, 1998), p. 306; Keith Dowman, Power Places of Central Tibet (external link:
LocationIn Ü, Central Tibet.
ProvinceTibet Autonomous Region
DistrictLhasa (lha sa)
CountyTölung Dechen Dzong (stod lung bde chen rdzong)
Cultural locationCentral Tibet
Location's languageCentral Tibetan dialect (dbus skad)
Location description 
Date founded1333
FounderDrakpa Senggé (grags pa seng+ge, 1283-1349), the First Zhamarpa (zhwa dmar pa)
Abbots1. Drakpa Senggé (grags pa seng+ge, 1283-1349); 2. Yungtön Dorjé Pelwa (g.yung ston rdo rje dpal ba, 1284-1365); 3. Khedrup Dargyelwa (mkhas grub dar rgyal ba, d. 1385), 4. Trüzhik Sönam Bum ('khrul zhig bsod nams 'bum)
Blue Annals References498, 530, 531, 538, 539, 540, 541, 542, 546, 549

Historical Summary

Nenang monastery lies in the Tölung valley. It was founded by the First Zhamarpa, Drakpa Senggé (1283-1349) in 1333. The Blue Annals describes how he was inspired to build the monastery after a dream in which a figure called Gomma Samten Gyen (sgom ¬ma bsam gtan rgyan, said to be a disciple of Düsum Khyenpa) appeared to him and told him that it would be auspicious for him to build a monastery at the site. The visionary Gomma also laments that she cannot carry out the task herself because she is a woman. A year after this dream, in 1333, Drakpa Senggé began laying the foundation for the monastery. At that time he had another vision, this time of the deity Ber Nakchen (ber nag can) which indicated the exact spot on which to build. His work must have progressed at an astonishing pace, for the Blue Annals maintains that he finished construction of Nenang in only a month and a half (Roerich, 530)!

Drakpa Senggé’s reincarnation, the Second Zhamarpa Khachö Wangpo (mkha' spyod dbang ¬po, 1350-1405), was also active at Nenang (Roerich, 540-42). At one point toward the middle of his life he retreated to a hermitage on the back side of the monastery. He also appointed Trüzhik Sönam Bum ('khrul zhig bsod nams 'bum), who grew up in the area of the monastery, as abbot (Roerich, 542, 546).

The Fourth Zhamarpa built a new monastic seat for the Zhamarpa lineage, Yangpachen (yang pa can). After that time, Nenang became the seat of the Pawo (dpa’ bo) reincarnation lineage, including the Second Pawo, the famous historian Tsuklak Trengwa (dpa’ bo gtsug lag ’phreng ba, 1504-1564/1566) (Richardson, 312, and Dowman). The TBRC website mentions that the shift of the Zhamar line away from Nenang and the Pawo line’s taking its place may have been the result of political measures taken by the Fifth Dalai Lama after his victory over rival powers, among whom was the Zhamarpa.

In general, Nenang seems to have been known for its teaching of the Six Yogas of Naro and the Sadaṅga (of Kālacakra), as the Blue Annals mentions these teachings several times when discussing what people studied there (Roerich 530, 539, 549).