King Gesar is an epic from Tibet based on Tibetan folk tales, legends, folk songs and proverbs. Representing the highest achievement of ancient Tibetan culture, it has been in circulation for centuries. It is an encyclopedia-like masterpiece reflecting the history of ancient Tibetan society.
The epic is set in ancient Tibetan society where inter-tribal warfare was common, as were natural disasters. Evil demons and spirits were everywhere playing havoc with the people¡¯s lives. In order to help the people, and relieve their suffering, several of the good deities decided to send Gesar into the world to defeat the evil demons.
In the epic of King Gesar, thousands of figures are portrayed and hundreds of wars recounted. It artistically chronicles the development of ancient Tibetan society --recounting how all the separate tribes and small kingdoms gradually came together. It demonstrates the Tibetan people¡¯s wish for peaceful reunification, social stability and a happy life.
The Story of King Gesar first emerged between the 1st and 6th centuries A.D. and took shape during the period of the Tubo Kingdom from the 7th to the 9th century. Since the 10th century, when the Tubo Kingdom collapsed, the epic has been further enriched and developed, spreading furthered afield.
King Gesar has a high academic value. It vividly describes various aspects of ancient Tibetan life --incorporating the economy, religion and customs of Tibet. King Gesar, in a similar fashion to the Greek and Indian epics, is another pearl in the treasure-trove of world culture and is a great contribution of the Tibetan people in their own unique style. When compared with other heroic epics from around the world, King Gesar has two outstanding characteristics. First, it has been passed down from one generation to the next orally and musically. Even today the epic is still widely popular among the Tibetan people, especially among farmers and herdsmen; it is a ¡°living¡± heroic epic, belonging to the Tibetan cultural heritage. Second, it is the longest heroic epic in the world. It is an immense piece of literature, with more than 1 million verses, and approximately 20 million words.It would fill 120-plus volumes if written down in its entirety.
King Gesar has a unique structure, the whole epic is composed of three parts: Chapter Heaven, Chapter Subduing Demons and Chapter Hell. When folk artists tell and sing the stories they often use three sentences to outline the epic: The lord of Heaven sends Gesar to earth, Gesar fights a series of battles, and Gesar triumphs in the Underworld.
To us, the story of King Gesar is a living history. It is the source of knowledge, motivation and it is where we get our strength from when we are exhausted. Gesar is a butter lamp to us when we get lost in the dark night. It is also serves as a behavior and morality yardstick. Gesar is our life, it influences us our way of thinking, behaving, dealing with people, treating nature, and living with the surrounding environment. Gesar has brought us happiness, joy, prosperity and peace. We hope you will find your own treasure in Gesar.