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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Monastery \Mon"as*te*ry\, n.; pl. Monasteries. [L. monasterium, Gr. ?, fr. ? a solitary, a monk, fr. ? to be alone, live in solitude, fr. mo`nos alone. Cf. Minister.] A house of religious retirement, or of secusion from ordinary temporal concerns, especially for monks; -- more rarely applied to such a house for females.

Syn: Convent; abbey; priory. See Cloister.


n. (plural of monastery English)

Usage examples of "monasteries".

Chinese power was soon actively involved, for the Dzungars, invited by disaffected monasteries, invaded Tibet in 1717, killed Lhabzang Khan and deposed his Dalai Lama, but they failed to bring with them the infant in whom many Tibetans saw the true incarnation of the original sixth.

The monasteries provided spiritual guidance and pastoral activity and housed the shrines for the images of the Buddha and divine bodhisattvas created towards the end of the first millennium BC.

Through his pupil 'Brom-ston (1004-64), who founded the monastery of Reting (Rva-sgreng), Atisa counts as the source of one of the many traditions or sects, which with the exception of the rNying-ma-pa, or followers of Padmasambhava, owe their beginnings to the different Indian and Tibetan personalities active during the Second Diffusion and the monasteries where the special emphases of their teachings were institutionalised.

It is little wonder that in time Tibet became a theocracy ruled by the monasteries in partnership with the nobility.

Throughout this area there were monasteries loyal to the spiritual authority of Lhasa and here and there semi-independent princedoms.

Towns, including the capital Lhasa, small settlements and great monasteries lie in the valleys of the Tsangpo system in central Tibet which also provide good grazing and agricultural land.

Pointing to its effect on the agricultural workforce, he ascribed it to polyandry (the custom by which a woman was shared by a number of husbands, usually brothers), venereal disease and the drain into the monasteries and convents, where celibacy was the rule.

The monasteries, particularly the larger, had their own administrative arrangements which involved the collection of rent in cash and kind from their estates and the storage and marketing of the produce.

Monastic financial ventures included borrowing and lending money, conducting trading expeditions, the profits of which were sometimes used for the maintenance, repair, and expansion of the monasteries and for the provision of new images.

The completion of the vast work of translation coincided more or less with the destruction by Muslim conquerors of the great monasteries of Bihar and Bengal with their libraries (c.

Bon-po monasteries survived mainly in eastern and northern Tibet and in some other relatively inaccessible places.

Buddhism has remained a monastic religion, nowhere more so than in Tibet, and monasteries have played a vital part in teaching and developing religious beliefs and their philosophical basis, even when the original impulsion came from outside their walls.

It was not long before patronage by aristocratic and feudal lords led to the establishment of new monasteries which remained linked to the founding family by economic and dynastic ties.

Heads of monasteries were appointed by virtue of their being recognised as incarnations of their predecessors, a system that goes back to Dus-gsum-mkhyen-pa (1110-93), first head of the Karma-pa branch of the bKa'-rgyud-pa sect, who prophesied his reincarnation as his own successor.

But it was the successors of the Tibetans who provided the hundreds of incarnations who held the dignity of abbot, being recognised in childhood as the immediate reincarnations of their predecessors and brought up from an early age in the monasteries, though often with little or no administrative responsibility.