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Samyé

Samyé (bsam.yas). The first monastery in Tibet and scene of the great debate in which Kamalaśīla defeated the Chinese emissary Mahāyāna, thus ensuring that Indian rather than Chinese Buddhism would be the model for the development of religion in Tibet. The Samyé monastery was commissioned by King Trisong Detsen (790–858) and its building begun by Śāntarakṣita, formerly abbot of Nālandā, and completed with the assistance of Padmasambhava. The building itself, said to have taken seven years before Padmasambhava's arrival and five years after, was architecturally important for having set the pattern for all future monasteries in Tibet. Modelled after Odantapurī in Bihar (itself destroyed by Muslims in 1193), it contained one large and twelve small temples, four large and 108 smaller chörtens, all surrounded by a high wall, thus representing in maṇḍala form the ideographic Buddhist universe. During the cultural revolution it was completely destroyed by the Chinese.

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