Bon monastery in Himachl Pradesh
The history of Bon is difficult to clearly ascertain because the earliest surviving documents referring to the religion come from the 9th and 10th centuries, well after Buddhists began the suppression of indigenous beliefs and practices. Moreover, historian Per Kværnenotes that "Bon" is used to describe three distinct traditions: the pre-Buddhist religious practices of Tibetans that is "imperfectly reconstructed [yet] essentially different from Buddhism" and was focused on the personage of a divine king; a syncretism religion that arose in Tibet during the 10th and 11th centuries, with strong shamanistic and animistic traditions, that is often regarded by scholars as "an unorthodox form of Buddhism; a vast and amorphous body of popular beliefs" including fortune telling. However, other scholars do not accept the tradition that separates Bön from Buddhism; Christopher Beckwith calls Bön "one of the two types of Tibetan Buddhism" and writes that "despite continuing popular belief in the existence of a non-Buddhist religion known as Bön during the Tibetan Empire period, there is not a shred of evidence to support the idea... Although different in some respects from the other sects, it was already very definitely a form of Buddhism." Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, recognizes the Bön tradition as the fifth principal spiritual school of Tibet, along with the Niangua, Sakya, Kagyu, and Gelug schools of Buddhism, despite the long historical competition between the Bön tradition and Buddhism in Tibet
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