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42nd King of Tibet
Reign841 – c. 844
Era of Fragmentation
c. 795
Diedc. 844 (aged c. 49)
Trülgyel Mausoleum, Valley of the Kings
Tsépongza Tsen Mopen
IssueTride Yumten
Namde Ösung
Tri Darma U Dum Tsen (དར་མ་འུ་དུམ་བཙན་)
LönchenWe Gyaltore Taknye
HouseYarlung Dynasty
MotherDroza Lhagyel Mangmojé
Tibetan name
Tibetan གླང་དར་མ།
Wylieglang dar ma
'u dum btsan po
Lhasa IPA[laŋtaːma] /
[udum tsɛ̃po]

Darma U Dum Tsen (Tibetan: དར་མ་འུ་དུམ་བཙན, Wylie: dar ma 'u dum btsan), better known by his nickname Langdarma (Tibetan: གླང་དར་མ།, Wylie: glang dar ma, THL: Lang Darma, lit. "Mature Bull" or "Darma the Bull") (c. 795 - c. 844) was the last king of the Tibetan Empire who in 838 killed his brother, King Ralpachen, then reigned from 841 to c. 844 before he himself was assassinated.[1] His reign corresponded to the dissolution of the Tibetan Empire era.

Early sources call him Tri Darma "King Darma".[citation needed] His briefly inherited empire extended beyond the Tibetan Plateau to include the Silk Roads with the Tibetan imperial manuscript center at Sachu (Dunhuang), and neighbouring regions in China, East Turkestan, Afghanistan, and India.[2][3]

After he assassinated his brother King Ralpachen in 838, he widely persecuted Buddhists, specifically the monks of the Nyingma school, the only school of Tibetan Buddhism at that time. Earlier in his life, Langdarma was a Buddhist but later under the influence of We Gyaltore Taknye (Wylie: dbas rgyal to re), he became a follower of Bon.

In the years following Ralpachen's murder and during Langdarma's brief reign, Tibet was also plagued by external troubles. The Uyghur Khaganate to the north of Tibet's Empire collapsed due to a revolt by the Yenisei Kirghiz in 840, and many displaced people fled into Tibet. According to one source, he only reigned for a year and a half, while others give six or thirteen years.[4] A Buddhist hermit or monk named Lhalung Pelgyi Dorje is often credited with assassinating Langdarma in 842,[1] or in 846,[4][5] but other sources credit Nyingma master Nubchen Sangye Yeshe with frightening him to death[1] after Langdarma threatened the practitioners in Nubchen Sangye Yeshe's monastic institute.[6] His death was followed by civil war and the dissolution of the Tibetan empire, leading to the Era of Fragmentation.[3]

Langdarma had at least two children: sons Tride Yumten by his first wife, and Namde Ösung by his second wife.[7] They apparently competed for power, the former ruling over the central kingdom of Ü-Tsang, and the other ruling over the "left wing", probably the eastern territories.[4]

One of Langdarma's grandsons, Kyidé Nyima Gön (Wylie: skyid lde nyi ma gon), conquered Ngari in the late 10th century, although his army originally numbered only 300 men. Kyidé Nyima Gön founded several towns and castles and he apparently ordered the construction of the main sculptures at Shey. "In an inscription he says he had them made for the religious benefit of the Tsenpo (the dynastic title of his father and ancestors), and of all the people of Ngaris (Western Tibet). This shows that already in this generation Langdarma's opposition to Buddhism had disappeared."[8] Shey, just 15 km east of modern Leh, was the ancient seat of the Ladakhi kings.

Following his persecution of Tibetan Buddhism, Atiśa was called from Sumatra to restore Buddhism to Tibet.[9]

The anti-Buddhist portrayal of this king is well documented in primary and secondary Tibetan sources, but reinterpretations have been published from two historians,[10] most prominently Zuiho Yamaguchi.[11]

In Tibetan Buddhist culture, Darma U Dum Tsen was said to be the incarnation of Gośīrṣa, the Ox-Head and Horse-Face guardian of hell, thus he got the nickname, Langdarma, literally, "Darma, the bull".

Langdarma was said to have had "a black tongue", and a common gesture of Tibetans briefly sticking out their tongues is interpreted to show agreement, and as a sign of respect.[citation needed] When they demonstrate that they do not have black tongues, they show they are not guilty of evil deeds, and that they are not incarnations of the malevolent king.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c Arthur Mandelbaum, "Lhalung Pelgyi Dorje", Treasury of Lives, 2007.
  2. ^ Claude Arpi, "Glimpses on the History of Tibet", Dharamsala: Tibet Museum, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Samten Karmay in McKay, Alex (2003). Tibet and her neighbours : a history. London: Edition Hansjörg Meyer. ISBN 3883757187., pg. 57
  4. ^ a b c Stein, R. A. (1972). Tibetan civilization ([English ed.]. ed.). Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-8047-0901-7., pp. 70-71
  5. ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (1993). The Tibetan empire in Central Asia : a history of the struggle for great power among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese during the early Middle Ages (4. print., and 1st pbk. ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 0-691-02469-3., pp. 168-169
  6. ^ John Myrdhin Reynolds, "The Golden Letters", Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1996
  7. ^ Davidson, Ronald M. (2008). Tibetan renaissance : Tantric Buddhism in the rebirth of Tibetan culture (1st Indian ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 978-8120832787.
  8. ^ Francke, A. H. (1914). Antiquities of Indian Tibet (2 volumes) (1972 reprint ed.). S. Chand., pp. 89-90.
  9. ^ The ulti- mate reason why Atīśa was subsequently invited to Tibet was for the ‘restoration’ and purification of Buddhism again so as to be able to overcome the setback that Tibetan Buddhism had suffered from the persecutions initiated by King Lang Darma.
  10. ^ Jens Schlieter. "Compassionate Killing or Conflict Resolution? The Murder of King Langdarma according to Tibetan Buddhist Sources". University of Berne.
  11. ^ Yamaguchi, Zuiho. “The Fiction of King Dar ma's Persecution of Buddhism.” in Drège, textes réunis par Jean-Pierre (1996). De Dunhuang au Japon : études chinoise et bouddhiques offertes à Michel Soymié. Genève: Droz. ISBN 2600001662.

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Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of Tibet
r. 838–841
Succeeded by