Show Summary Details

Quick Reference


1 The ancient pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet and some neighbouring areas. It was founded by the legendary teacher Shen-rap Mi-wo (Tib., gshen-rab mi-bo) and comprises two main aspects: the positive White Bön (bon-dkar) and the negative Black Bön (bon-nag). Three historical phases of White Bön are distinguished: the unreformed pre-literate Bön (brdol-bon) of pre-Buddhist times primarily involving rituals for the suppression of evil spirits and the worship (pūjā) of ancestral deities; imported Bön ('khyar-bon) which was initially widespread in areas to the east of Tibet such as Brusha and Changchung and then propagated in Tibet following the reign of Drigum Tsenpo; and translated Bön (bsgyur-bon), also known as the ‘White Water Tradition’ (chab-dkar) which was developed during the 8th century ce in reaction to Buddhism by modifying or recasting Buddhist literature into Bön versions. Black Bön dealt mainly with black magic, malefic rituals, and practices. Supporters of Bön were often hostile to the introduction of Buddhism which they saw as a threat to their role of state religion and several Tibetan kings are known to have been assassinated in the ensuing power struggles. Under Buddhist influence a monastic system was developed which survives to the present day in parts of eastern Tibet and in exile in India.

Subjects: Buddhism.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.