Zha Lu

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 zha-za-'a-ya > zha lu

Zhalu (ཞ་ལུ་)

by Christopher Bell

General information

NameZhalu (ཞ་ལུ་)
Period11th century
Transliteration formZha lu
Sectarian affiliationEcumenical
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.
Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center #G275
LocationIn the district of Zhigatsé, in Tsang, Central Tibet.
ProvinceTibet Autonomous Region
DistrictZhigatsé (gzhis ka rtse)
Cultural locationCentral Tibet
Location's languageCentral Tibetan dialect (dbus skad)
Location description"This monastery exists in the district of Zhigatsé, in the region of Zhigatsé in central Tibet."
Date founded1003: Chetsün Sherap Jungné built its golden temple.
1314: Butön Rinchendrup built its monastic complex.
FounderButön Rinchendrup (bu ston rin chen grub) [1290-1364]
Blue Annals References(pp. 335, 338, 342, 366, 417, 423, 794). The reference to this monastery in the Blue Annals primarily concerns Butön Rinchendrup and his compilation of the Kangyur (bka' 'gyur) and Tengyur (bstan 'gyur), as well as their preservation, at Zhalu monastery (338). Upon first arriving at Zhalu monastery, Butön had to conform with the monks there by obtaining "the permission (lung) of the gNyal-ṭīkā (a commentary on the Prajñāpāramitā) from the ācārya bKra-shis bzang-po" (335). There is a further reference to Pakö Yönten Gyamtso ('phags 'od yon tan rgya mtsho), one of Butön's masters, who traveled to Zhalu (423). Also, Zhalu Monastery was a central institution for the propagation of the Kālacakra tantric system (794) and the Guhyasamāja (366), and was an important depository of Tibetan texts overall (342, 417).

Historical Summary

Zhalu monastery has been an ecumenical religious center since its establishment, but it is most famous for being the residence of Butön Rinchendrup, who also founded its monastic college. Butön is one of the most important figures in Tibetan history, arriving on the historical scene near the end of the Tibetan renaissance. He had numerous teachers as well as disciples, and became a major propagator of the Kālacakra and Guhyasamāja tantric systems, which he notably transmitted at Zhalu. Butön is foremost known for having compiled the first editions of the Tibetan Buddhist canon, the Kangyur and Tengyur, an extensive project he undertook while at Zhalu. Beyond this, Zhalu Monastery is famous for being a depository for various Tibetan textual traditions and manuscript collections.

Translation from the Dung gar tshig mdzod chen mo

This monastery exists in the district of Zhigatsé, in the region of Zhigatsé in central Tibet; it is a genuine and ancient holy place known to have been established at the beginning of the later spread of the [Buddhist] teachings. In the Water Rabbit year (1003) of the former Tibetan sixty-year cycle, Kuzhang Drakpa Gyeltsen patronized [its construction] and Lotön Dorjé Wangchuk’s disciple Chetsün Sherap Jungné built the golden temple of Zhalu along with its sacred images. The third abbot, Cheyu Tokdra Serzang, lived at Chema Temple on the banks of the naturally produced, great compassionate Tsangpo River near Tokgyel Chemayu, [and] he was invited to Zhalu. He set up a wall around that place and dug a well in the monastery. In the Wood Tiger year (1314) of the former Tibetan sixty-year cycle, Butön Rinchendrup founded the great monastic complex of Zhalu―the religious palace and its blissful caves―together with its sangha. Then he made many holy images―such as the glorious Kālacakra, the Buddha, and Maitreya―from precious [metals] and translated the Kangyur and Tengyur as the speech support. As the mind support, Butön Rinchendrup built many [structures], such as the Maitreya Kumbum temple, which was built in the Water Dragon year (1352) when he was 63, [and which] is famous for liberating just by being seen. He also established a scriptural college. Butön’s direct disciple, the mantra-holder Yutön Dorjepel, established the ritual dance tradition of honoring the buffalo at Zhalu. The eight-part decree of the Dharma king Pakpa Rinpoche [1235-1280] is preserved at Zhalu, in which there are many ancient cultural relics. From now on, Zhalu Monastery is ranked in the group of protected sacred cultural relics of Tibet. (Dung dkar 2002, p.1757)