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Senaleg (T. sad na legs) was the youngest son of Trisong Detsen and king of the Tibetan Empire circa 799 to 815.[1] He was known by the following names:[2]

  • Senaleg (sad na legs སད་ན་ལེགས་)
  • Mutik Tsenpo (mu tig btsan po མུ་ཏིག་བཙན་པོ་)
  • Tridé Songtsen (khri lde srong btsan ཁྲི་ལྡེ་སྲོང་བཙན་)
  • Senalek Jingyön (sad na legs mjing yon)

Trisong Detsen was first succeeded by his second son, Muné Tsenpo, who died after ruling for barely one year. The throne then passed to Senaleg.

Sam van Schaik states:

As the great tsenpo Trisong Detsen prepared to step down [...] at first, it seemed that Trisong Detsen had done everything right when, in 797, he abdicated in favour of his eldest son, who had been preparing for the throne all his life. But something went wrong, and this son died after ruling for barely a year. Traditional Tibetan histories portray this doomed ruler as a naïve idealist, trying to put the Buddhist principles of universal compassion into practice by eradicating the difference between the rich and the poor. They also say that his reforms failed; some modern Tibetans claim that this is why they knew from an early stage that communism would never work in Tibet.
After this suspicious death another son was hurried onto the throne. Senaleg had not been prepared for power, so Trisong Detsen returned to the throne alongside him. But the old tsenpo only had a few more years left, and after he died conflict flared again. Senaleg had not strictly been the next in line for the throne, and there was another son who resented being passed over and now declared himself the rightful tsenpo. Senaleg had to regain the momentum, and he did. The challenger died in 804, and though the sources omit to say how, it is likely that it was murder that resolved the dispute.
Senaleg may have resorted to killing his brother, and he certainly did not blanch at waging war, but he followed his father's Buddhist convictions. Buddhism penetrated the Tibetan court even more deeply during his reign. Two of his closest advisors were monk ministers who operated at the highest political levels, ensuring that the Buddhist initiatives of Trisong Detsen's time weren't allowed to stagnate. The translation of India's Buddhist literature continued apace. Senaleg put his name to an edict standardising the Tibetan language and setting out firm rules for translators. In time, this would ensure the remarkable consistency of the Tibetan Buddhist canon; for now, it meant that thousands of pages of translations had to be revised and rewritten, a time-consuming and horribly expensive operation.[3]

Senaleg died circa 815, and he was succeeded on the throne by his son Ralpacan.


  1. van Shaik 2007.
  2. Tsadra commons icon.jpg Mu tig btsan po, Tsadra Commons
  3. van Schaik 2011, Chapter 3.


Further reading