Significance of Buddhism in Sikkim
Along with Hinduism, the thought of Buddhism also occupies a prominent place in the secular land of Sikkim. The school of Buddhism, which is also referred as a 'religion' with its main followers in Sikkim being the Tibetans and the Bhutia’s, traces its history in the land back to the 15th-16th centuries. It was in this period that a friction took place among the Tibetan Buddhists over the supremacy and the difference in other ideologies based on Tantric rituals. This discord resulted in the arrival of the old sect Nyingma (who believed in Tantric rituals) to Sikkim, while the liberal sect, Gelug leaded by the Dalai Lama gained ascendency in Tibet.
Sikkim is also believed to be blessed by Guru Padmasambhava, the great Buddhist saint who visited Sikkim in the 8th century and consecrated the land, meditating at its four corners to rid it of all negativity. Here he is believed to have hidden many secret Buddhist teachings, which he prophesized would be discovered in the future by those specially blessed by spiritual powers. It was a realization of this prophecy when in the 17th century three learned lamas, Lhatsun Chempo, Karthok Rikzin Chempo and Ngadak Sempa Chempo entered Sikkim from three different directions of Tibet and met at Norbughang, Yuksum and decided to establish a Buddhist monarchy in the state, It is further believed that Buddhism in Sikkim was introduced by Lhatsun Chempo, one of the three monks who consecrated the first Chogyal (Religious King) of Sikkim in 1641-42 A.D. Lhatsun Chempo, a resident of Kongbo in the lower valley of Tshangpo in Tibet and is also known as the Lhatsun Namkha Jigmed with reference to his alleged power of flying. Today, Sikkim hosts a number of Buddhist temples, monasteries and learning centers which further reflect upon the tradition, culture and values of the Buddhist life in the Himalayan regions which today the team of SMITE has put on all efforts to research the Buddhist circuit and bring them out and showcase to the world through the specially design itinerary and programmes.