The Library of Tibetan Works & Archives (LTWA) is pleased to produce this bilingual publication A
History of Traditional Fields of Learning by the renowned Tibetan Scholar Muge Samten Gyatso.
As you will read in the brief life history given at the beginning of this book, the author is
some one who contributed much to the file of Tibetan studies, both before and after the Chinese
invation of Tibet.
In this book, he has efficiently and succinctly summed up various important historical facts,
including the achievements and contributions of some of the leading scholars, kings and other historical
figures of Tibet.
This book will be useful to both Tibetan and English readers who wish to know the history of
development of Tibetan literature and for all those who want to establish a foundation on it.
We would like to thank Mr. Sangye Tandar Naga, head of Research and Translation
Department, LTWA for translating this work in English and Elena Kharkov for assisting him.
A Brief Life History of Muge Samten
Je Samten Gyatso Mijig Yangchen Gawai Lodro was born in 1914, to Agen and A Tsesung, in Sogpo Ru
which is a part of the Nine Toetso, which further is a part of the Eighteen Deba of Moge or Muge, in
southern Domed. As a child, he exhibited far more intelligence than children of his own age. At the age
of twelve, he was ordained as Lobsang Samten by Detsang Tulku Lobsang Tenpai, and joined the Muge
Tashi Khorlo monastery. He learned reading, writing, and reciting monastic liturgy from many teachers
including Aku Choklingtsang. Muge Samten also studied Collected Topics in the field of Logic, and
received many initiations, transmissions, and authorization from the great master and practitioner
Lobsang Choden Pal Sangpo. Then he joined the great Domed monastery of Labrang Tashikhyil, and
thoroughly mastered sutras, tantras, and all the traditional sciences, from Aku Omkhyiltsang, Kunkhyen
Yongzin Konchok Samdrubtsang (?1961), Alak Lhamo Tsultrimtsang, who were all distinguished
teachers. He was for many the skyor dpon (monitor and one who recites the text that is being taught
from memory) of his own class. At the age of 29 (1943), he took disputation on the paramita or
perfection literature. At the age of 35 (1947), Muge Samten received the title of Geshe Dorampa. Since
then, his fame spread far and wide. In 1949, communist Chinese forces entered Tibet and gradually
occupied all of Tibet under the beautiful term of ‘liberation’. Since then, he had to work as the editor of
Ngawa News and Deputy Director of Ngawa Prefecture Culture and Education Department. From the
mid-1960s, Cultural Revolution started in China and the Tibetans suffered terribly as a result. Muge
Samten was also subjected to much beating by the red guards under their Gods, Ghosts, Demons, and
From 1978, China witnessed a slight change in its policy towards liberalization. However
during the past some 30 years, Tibetan religion and culture had nearly been decimated. Not even the
people of Tibet were spared. At such a critical moment, Muge Samten felt the vital importance of
religion and culture for the survival of the Tibetan people. Taking upon himself the responsibility of
reviving and restoring the Tibetan religion and culture to its former glory, he in the summer of 1979
established the first Tibetan cultural education class and taught Tibetan language and grammar to about
one hundred lamas, tulkus, monks, government officials and teachers in Ngawa. At the same time, he
wrote Bod kyi yi ge spyi rnam blo gsal jug ngogs on Tibetan grammar. Tibetans highly
appreciated this work and welcomed it like a much-awaited rain in a hot desert. Gradually he held
several crash course classes in Zoge and Kakhog.
Earlier some Chinese who claim to be expert on Tibetan studies wrote a book in which they
called for a changes in the Tibetan language. They suggested nonsensical changes in the Tibetan
grammar that was contrary to all the authoritative texts on Tibetan grammar. The great Muge Samten
however wrote an article titled Blo sgo ‘byed pai phyir mtha’ dpyad pa, putting an end to the
wrong views of the remorseful Chinese.
From the 1980s, the Chinese government offered the post of the Deputy Chairman of Ngawa
Prefecture Political Consultative Committee and standing member of the Qinghai Provincial Political
Consultative Conference. However he was not easily fooled into becoming a Chinese tool. Instead
Muge Samten spent his time writing and translating important books for the Tibetans. He edited the
Tibetan newspaper, compiled and edited his own great dictionary, and at the same time taught Tibetan
grammar, poetry, Sanskrit, logic, astrology and other Tibetan traditional sciences to Tibetan schools in
Beijing, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Sining and Lhasa.
Muge Samten like many of the contemporary Tibetan scholars loved his country and the
people. His most admirable qualities were his dedication, courage and honesty. In 1985, he was teaching
poetry and grammar at the Southwest Nationalities University in Chengdu, Sichuan. He was invited one
day to a culture discussion panel by the Sichuan Institute for Nationality Theory. At the discussion, there
Tibetan scholars like Thupten Nyima, Kalsang Gyurme, Gendun, Tsenlha Ngawang and quite a few
Chinese scholars. As his turn to speak came, he immediately launched an attack on some Chinese
scholars who he said out of ignorance were trying to create a different ethnic identity for the Dagpo
Tibetans in Amdo in an effort to split Tibet into small fragments. Similarly at other conferences and
lectures, he would give fitting replies to those who in an effort to be political correct distort the history
of Tibet at every opportunity.
Muge Samten also visited Labrang Tashikhyil, Chamdo Jampaling and more than ten other
monasteries and gave initiation, transmission and approval to countless devotees. After contributing so
much to the Tibetan people, he passed away at the age of 79 in 1993.
This great scholar and teacher spent his life on hearing, thinking and contemplation and in
teaching, debating, and writing. his writings have been published in six thick volumes. The first volume is
about his teacher Bla kho rin po che ‘jigs med rgya mtsho’s biography and an autobiography of him. The
second volume contains his writings on the Buddhist canons. The third volume is mainly about history.
The fourth volume is on Sanskrit, poetry, and astrology. The fifth volume is on Tibetan grammar. The
final volume contains his miscellaneous writings.
Back of the Book
A History of Traditional Fields of Learning contains a concise history of dissemination of traditional
fields of learning in Tibet during the early and later diffusion of Buddhism.
It also mentions the translators and scholars who visited Tibet, texts translated and
monasteries founded by them and further highlights the spread of Buddhism to Mongolia and China and
Tibetan texts translated in their native language.
This work by a highly respected contemporary Tibetan scholar Muge Samten (1914-1993) is
from the third volume of his collected works and is a very reliable source on the subject.
A History of Traditional Fields of Learning is a must for those who wants to study the history
of Tibetan literature.
Muge Samten was born in 1914 in Muge, in southern Amdo. He had his preliminary
study at Muge Tashi Khorlo monastery and later joined the great monastery of Labrang Tashikhyil where
he mastered sutras, tantras, and all the traditional sciences. At the age of 35 (1747), Muge Samten
received the title of Geshe Dorampa. Since then, his fame spread far and wide.
After the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 10949, Tibetan religion and culture experienced
wanton destruction, the height of which was reached during the Cultural Revolution. Muge Samten felt
the vital importance of religion and culture for the survival of the Tibetan people and took upon himself
the responsibility of reviving and restoring the Tibetan religion and culture to its former glory. He has
authored six volumes and many articles on various subjects of Tibetan studies.
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