Tubo Kingdom (617-877)
After Songtsen Gampo (617-650), the 33rd Tsenpo of the Yarlong Dynasty , established the Tubo Kingdom, he moved the capital to Resa (presently Lhasa), created Tibetan characters and built the first Buddhist chapel in Tibet. To strengthen his power, Songtsen Gampo proposed marriages to the princesses of Nepal and China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907), the latter of whom is the famous Princess Wencheng. In 641, Princess Wencheng set off from Chang’an (presently Xian) and arrived in Lhasa after a two-year journey. Together with her were not only the advanced technologies of agriculture, medicine and calendar development, but also Buddhist statues, sutras and the wish to promote Buddhism. Since then more and more Tibetans converted to Buddhism; the indigenous religion of Bon, which had dominated Tibet for nearly one thousand years, began to decline.
By 836, not only had Buddhist monasteries mushroomed throughout Tibet, but the supremacy of monks expanded. Frightened by the overwhelming popularity of Buddhism, Lang Darma (797-841), the brother of King Tri Ralpa, a Bon believer, killed the king in 836 and ascended the throne. Severe demolitions of Buddhist monasteries and persecutions against monks in the following years eventually provoked massive rebellions and the assassination of Lang Darma. In 877, the rebelling armies conquered Chonggye County and destroyed the Graveyard of Tibetan Kings, ending the Tubo Kingdom and starting 400-year-long period of wars and decentralizations.
Sakya and Pagdu Periods (877-1618)
About 100 years after Lang Darma's blow, Buddhism revived. In 1042, Atisha, an East Indian (from what is today Bangladesh) Buddhist sage, came to Tibet and many sects of Buddhism were founded there after. The second transmission of Buddhism was so powerful that when the Mongols rose in the early 13th century, the leaders realized that relying solely on religious influences could accelerate the unification of Tibet.
The Sakya Dynasty tottered in the latter period of the Yuan Dynasty and was replaced by the Pagdu Dynasty in 1354, which also submitted to the central government of the Yuan Dynasty and to that of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was under the patronage of the Pagdu Dynasty that Tsong Khapa (1357-1419), much influenced by Atisha, and established the Gelugpa Order, the order of Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. In 1578, the title of 'Dalai Lama' was first conferred on Sonam Gyasto (1542-1588) by Altan Khan, a Mongol chief who is known for re-introducing Buddhism into Mongolia. In 1587, the title of 'Dalai Lama' was officially admitted by the Ming Dynasty, with Sonam Gyasto being known as the third and his two predecessors being posthumously admitted as the first and the second Dalai Lamas. Initially given by Gushri Khan, chief of the Qosot Mongols, the title of 'Panchen Lama' started with Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen (1567-1662), the fourth Panchen Lama, with the former three being posthumously admitted.
Ganden Podrang Regime and the Autonomous Region of Tibet (1642 - Present)
The Pagdu Dynasty was ended by the Karma Regime in 1618, which existed for only 24 years. Oppressed by the king who carried out hostile policies against the Gelugpa Sect, Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682), the fifth Dalai Lama, overthrew the king under the patronage of Gushri Khan and established the Ganden Podrang Regime in 1642. In 1653, Lobsang Gyatso received the title of 'Dalai Lama' from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which acknowledged the Dalai Lama as the religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism enjoying the superiority of conferment. In 1713 upon the ferment caused by the death of the fifth Dalai Lama, Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722) conferred the title of 'Panchen Erdeni' on the fifth Panchen Lama (1663-1737), hence an official recognition of the Panchen Lama as the religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism with authority equal to that of the Dalai Lama.
In 1717, the Dzungar Mongols occupied Tibet, sacked the monasteries and deposed the sixth Dalai Lama. Having dispatched troops to drive out the Mongols and quench the internal turmoil afterwards, the Qing Government decided to accredit imperial representative officials in Tibet in 1727 and later bestowed on them local administrative authority equal to that of the Dalai Lama. By regulating high lama appointments, the reincarnations of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, foreign policies, and monastery management s the Qing Government took firm control over Tibet during the following 200-plus years.
In 1904, Britain invaded Tibet and the 13th Dalai Lama fled first to Mongolia and then to Qinghai Province under an arrangement by the Qing Government. From 1912 until 1949, the Republic of China took charge of the local administration of Tibet and the conferment of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. The Tibet Autonomous Region was established in 1965, starting a new chapter of Tibetan history.