Historical Significance of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Tashi Lhunpo was founded by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gedun Drupe in 1447, and became the largest, most vibrant monastery in Tibet.
Tashi Lhunpo's unique historical significance within the Gelugpa or "Yellow Hat" tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is unparalleled because it was at Tashi Lhunpo that the special relationship between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama began.
"Nam la Nyima-Dawa, Sa la Gyawa-Panchen." Thus goes the age-old Tibetan saying that is well known and recited often in all three provinces of Tibet. It means, "Just as the Sun and the Moon in the Sky, thus Gyawa-Panchen on Earth," alluding to the great and consequential relationship between the two Lamas who have shared a special spiritual bond, strengthened by their shared desire to ensure the well-being of the Tibetan people and the continued preservation of the Buddha Dharma.
This bond between the two spiritual leaders began hundreds of years ago when His Holiness the 4th Panchen Rinpoche, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen, became the spiritual teacher of His Holiness the 4th Dalai Lama in the early 17th century. Later, the 4th Panchen Rinpoche also recognized His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama and presided over the taking of his novice vows. Thus began the spiritual bond and relationship of teacher-disciple between them and established the wonderful tradition of the two recognizing each other's reincarnation, causing the Tibetan people to respectfully refer to the two as Gyawa Yabsay Nyi or the Great Father-Son Duo.
It is believed that the Dalai Lamas are the manifestation of Avalokiteshvara and the Panchen Lamas are the manifestation of Amitabha. Together they have accomplished many great deeds for the benefit of the Buddha Dharma and all sentient beings. Throughout Tibetan history, the two have also worked tirelessly to safeguard the well-being of the Tibetan people.
For a more in-depth history of Tashi Lhunpo, see this in-depth article written by the monks of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.