Most “great” prophets tend to be more concerned with the spiritual than the practical. Not so Songtsen Gampo – a warrior-king who is credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet, overseeing translation of the central Buddhist texts from Sanskrit, littering the mountains with Buddhist monasteries, and is therefore now considered one of the three “Dharma kings.”
Gampo became king of Tibet at the age of 13 when his father Namri was assassinated. To maintain the unity of Tibet and deflect the various plots against the Songsten dynasty, he would spend most of his life crisscrossing the country with his army. While he may well have been the earthly manifestation of Avalokiteśvara, it didn’t do him much good – although he did have six consorts (three that he married), so that may have been some consolation. Seeking allies, in 639 AD he married the Princess Chizun from Nepal and in 641 the Princess Wencheng of the Tang dynasty. According to the chronicles, the Nepalese and Chinese princesses were devout Buddhists (they would later both be deified as incarnations of the goddess Tara), and so converted Songsten Gampo to that faith … and he promptly converted his people (those who knew what was good for themselves). When catastrophic floods devastated the Yarlung valley, they convinced the king to make holy Lhasa his new capital and there build the Potala Palace.
Meanwhile, Gampo was busy fighting his other neighbors, beginning with a war with Zhangzhung and various Qiang tribes which “altogether submitted to him” in 634. Next, thwarted by Songzhou, he launched a brief attack on it but finally retreated and apologized. Another war with Zhangzhung ensued, in which its king was ambushed and killed by Gampo’s soldiers around 645. Then came Gampo’s defeat of the Tanguts. Finally, in a dispute with his younger brother Tsensong, he had his sibling burnt to death. A few years later, in 650, Songsten Gampo died of an unknown illness.