Tibetans in Exile
During the fifteen years of progressive occupation of the Chinese since 1944 and climaxing with the 1959 uprising against the occupation forces of China, thousands of Tibetans have migrated to the other Himalayan regions. The H.H. The Dalai Lama was forced to immigrate to India, and subsequently was followed by a tremendous outflux of thousands of Tibetans immigrating throughout the Himalayan Region. With the kind support of the Indian government, His Holiness established the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, India.
Following this massive immigration, approximately six thousand monasteries were demolished during the years of the Chinese government’s “Cultural Revolution”. This was a political initiative to purge religion as a cultural aspect for these indigenous people, who for thousands of years held as a cultural dimension of their lives. This political initiative to dominate the Tibetan people also destroyed the Bönpos monasteries and schools, as well as any cultural, educational and religious community structures and public religious ceremonies. And so, since 1959 and the subsequent purge of the “Cultural Revolution”, Bönpos fled the oppression into India and Nepal and Bhutan, hoping to restore the integrity of their native cultural heritage and their spiritual practices.
The Bönpos, followers of the ancient Bön tradition, continue today to be spread throughout all the regions of Tibet and the Himalayan regions of India, Nepal, and Bhutan. They hold their unique tradition with enthusiasm and devotion and which they have done for thousands of years.
According to recent Chinese demographic statistics, the Bönpos make up the second largest group of Tibet’s five main religious schools. There is current research to support the fact that it is the Bön religion, which was subsumed and adopted by the Tibetan Buddhist followers. Bön has a rich and vibrant monastic tradition and lay yogic practitioners, which is the core of the Bön communities and social structures.