Lha Sa

Tibetan Texts > Specific Tibetan Text Studies > Deb Ther Sngon Po (blue Annals) > Reference Resources - The Blue Annals > Place Names Cited in Blue Annals > Place Names ra-la-sha-sa-ha-a > lha sa

Lhasa (ལྷ་ས་)

by Christopher Bell

General information

NameLhasa (ལྷ་ས་)
Transliteration formlha sa
Source of informationDung dkar blo bzang 'phrin las. 2002. Dung dkar tshig mdzod chen mo. Beijing: Krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang.
Dbyi sun. [1993] 1998. Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang.
Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center #G2800
external link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lhasa
external link: http://www.thdl.org/collections/cultgeo/lhasa/index.html
Spatial LocationLatitude: 29.38°, Longitude: 91.07°
ProvinceTibet Autonomous Region
Cultural locationCentral Tibet
Location's languageCentral Tibetan Dialect (dbus skag)
Blue Annals References(ii, x, xi, 42, 46, 52, 60, 71, 79, 140, 148, 195, 223, 254, 256, 258, 260, 265, 273, 279, 288, 294, 323, 325, 326, 341, 354, 373, 384, 406, 407, 420, 450, 465, 473, 479, 490, 492, 494, 498, 499, 504, 508, 509, 530, 542, 549, 586, 590, 591, 631, 636, 639, 640, 641, 643, 648, 668, 672, 673, 680, 717, 729, 734, 738, 743, 776, 777, 780, 799, 802, 849, 854, 855, 878, 885, 895, 911, 912, 957, 973, 984, 1030, 1044, 1069, 1082, 1093).
Since Lhasa is the historic capital of Tibet, its references in the Blue Annals are numerous, all of which highlight its importance as Tibet's religious and political center throughout the vast majority of its existence.

Historical Summary

Lhasa has been the central heart of Tibetan cultural history since it was first established as the capital by King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. In the centuries covered in the The Blue Annals, there is a particularly strong motif of the Buddhist teachings constantly being in need of reinvigoration in Lhasa and in central Tibet overall. Beyond the most famous instance of the Dharma returning to central Tibet from its western and eastern borders after the period of fragmentation (bsil bu'i dus), several great Tibetan masters (Beyond Atīśa) are credited with having reinstituted the proper Buddhist teachings in Lhasa after they had either grown corrupt or decayed in the centuries following the Tibetan renaissance.


From the Dung dkar tshig mdzod chen mo.

In Lord Atīśa’s hagiography, Lhasa is called “Glorious Lhasa, the Dharma Center.” Accordingly, when Lord Atīśa arrived in Tibet, it was also called “Lhasa,” and one can see that it is presently named such. Furthermore, at the time of the [Yarlung Dynasty] kings, its name was “Rasa,” and at the end of the eastern side of the stone pillar explaining the Uncle Nephew relationship [between China and Tibet], which is in front of the Jokhang, it is written, “…the upper garden of Ba on the eastern side of Lhasa.” Thus, in the time of King Tri Relpachen tradition has it that it was also called “Lhasa.” (Dung dkar 2002, p.2167-2168)

From the Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo.

This is a city that came to be in the center of the bend of the central Kyichu River. In the past, at the time of the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, the red imperial palace was built on the peak of Red Mountain. On the plain [where Lhasa now stands], two holy statues of Lord Śākyamuni, which were invited by [Songtsen Gampo’s] Chinese and Nepalese [queens], were requested to be installed, and the Rasa Trülnang monastic complex was built. Thus, the foundation of the Dharma and the empire was established here. It was as if the dominion of the king, the happiness of his subjects, and their religious attainments had transformed this land into an exalted and divine realm, and so it became known as “Lhasa.” Since that time up to the time of the final king Lang Darma, it was the capital of the Tibetan dynasty. Later, from the time when the Fifth Dalai Lama―Lord of the religious and secular government―was enthroned, [Lhasa] became the center of major monastic centers, Tibetan politics, economy, and culture, which the incarnation line of the Dalai Lamas successively imbued with the appearance of religious and secular activities. These days, it is a sacred place in Central Tibet. (Dbyi sun 1998, p.3090)