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Bhutan: Rivalry among the Sects
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > Origins and Early Settlement, A.D. 600-1600 > Rivalry among the Sects

RIVALRY AMONG THE SECTS


By the tenth century, Bhutan's political development was heavily influenced by its religious history. Following a period in which Buddhism was in decline in Tibet in the eleventh century, contention among a number of subsects emerged. The Mongol overlords of Tibet and Bhutan patronized a sequence of subsects until their own political decline in the fourteenth century. By that time, the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat school had, after a period of anarchy in Tibet, become a powerful force resulting in the flight to Bhutan of numerous monks of various minor opposing sects. Among these monks was the founder of the Lhapa subsect of the Kargyupa school, to whom is attributed the introduction of strategically built dzong (fortified monasteries -- see Glossary). Although the Lhapa subsect had been successfully challenged in the twelfth century by another Kargyupa subsect -- the Drukpa -- led by Tibetan monk Phajo Drugom Shigpo, it continued to proselytize until the seventeenth century. The Drukpa subsect, an unreformed Nyingmapa group in Tibet, spread throughout Bhutan and eventually became a dominant form of religious practice. Between the twelfth century and the seventeenth century, the two Kargyupa subsects vied with one another from their respective dzong as the older form of Nyingmapa Buddhism was eclipsed.

Data as of September 1991




Last Updated: September 1991


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bhutan was first published in 1991. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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