Mysterious Tibetan calendar

2011-11-24 08:13:00 | From:

The altar of Tibetan calendar shown in the  Qinghai Tibetan Cultural Museum located in Xining, capital city of  Qinghai Province [Photo/China Tibet Online]

Basically, there are three kinds of calendars in the world: (1) the Solar calendar, used by Ancient Egyptian, Gregorian, etc. (2) the Lunar calendar, used by Islamic, Judaic, etc. (3) the Solar-Lunar calendar, used by Han, Tibetan, etc.

Tibetan calendar can be called mysterious as those lamas who studied it always built altars, which may cost them quite a few years. However, they would destroy it themselves in a moment without hesitation. And that is concerned with their pious Buddhist belief, said a guide of the Qinghai Tibetan Cultural Museum.

The Tibetan calendar has a long history. From ancient time there were some phenomenal calendars. In the 7th century, Princess Wen-Cheng brought Tang's calendar to Tibet, and later Princess Jin-Cheng did the same thing. Apparently, they did not bring with them the theoretical Astronomy which the calendars were based on. Those Tibetan students who were sent to Tang to study Arithmetics did not learn the computations to make calendars. After the down fall of the Tibetan Dynasty, Tibet became chaotic, and the transmissions of the Han calendars stopped, Tibetan were left without a scientific calendar until 11th century.

Around 9th century, Islam extended to India, many Indian Buddhists escaped to Tibet with 'aru-yoga' of the Esoteric (Tantric) Buddhism. Its part of 'Kala (time) Wheel' was a part of the Indian Astronomy, and not up to the early Tang's achievement. Tibetan fused the Indian Astronomy, the Tibetan creativities and the Han calendars (rgya-rtsis) to form their own calendars, later they adopted more from the Han calendars to form the present Tibetan calendars.

The main purposes of the Tibetan calendars were (1) providing a working seasonal schedule for farmers, shepherds, etc. (2) dating the enlightening date of Buddha, for Buddha propheted that Buddhism would exist for 5,000 years (different schools might have different figures). If we knew the precise date of the enlightening of Buddha, then the end of the world of Buddhism would be open to us. The important clue was that there was a complete moon eclipse on the enlightening day of Buddha. (3) computing the moon and sun eclipses. The complete moon eclipse on the date of the enlightening of Buddha indicated the importance of moon or sun eclipses which should increase one's intelligence 1 million times. Therefore, it was important to predict the timing of them for a believer to meditate or study.

The altar of Tibetan calendar shown in the  Qinghai Tibetan Cultural Museum located in Xining, capital city of  Qinghai Province [Photo/China Tibet Online]

(Some of the information is from tibet-tour.com)

 

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