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Sang-sol (pronounced as sāŋsöl) or incense offering is an integral part of the propitiation of gods/protective deities among Tibetan people. From the historical perspective, it appears to be a preliminary part in the rite of inviting gods/deities in removal of defilements within the human world. Commentary of Yangtse (of Bon), while narrating the descend of Nyatri Tsanpo from heaven, mentions that a trio of Bon priests were also sent along to clean defilements and great sickness of the human realm by offering sang. This testifies to the fact that the practice of removing impurity by burning incense had been there in Tibetan civilization from the earliest times.
During the reign of King Trisong Deutsan in 8th century AD, there was a wide dissemination of Buddhism, which overshadowed Bon. Nevertheless, the practice of propitiating gods/deities and sang offering that originated from Bon did not disappear with its moderation. On the contrary, Guru Padmasambhava brought under oath major divinities such as Yarlha Shampo and Thanglha Yarzhun and Tenma Chunyi, and appointed them protector deities of Tibet. Furthermore, when building Samye Monastery he commanded four great deity kings to enter into human beings to forecast future events. Bazhed and Kathang among others mention that propitiation gods/deities and sang offering gained further popularity in Tibet henceforth.
Over the centuries while Bon slowly became less known as propagation of Buddhism became stronger, there have been various changes in the practice of propitiating gods/deities and sang-sol. Bon elements were gradually replaced with Buddhist ones. In the divinities to be propitiated, for instance, the main focus shifted from the worldly spirits in Bon tradition to multitude of Buddhist oath-bound doctrine protectors. Bon priests officiating gods/deities in fostering positive side of life were substituted by Buddhist tantrics or monks. Furthermore, over and above the dominant Bon focus of propitiating gods/deities and sang offering which were for long life, growth of power, influence, luck and victory over human and non-human adversaries, added emphasis was given on wellbeing in the after life and increasing of merits etc.
However, for majority of the ordinary Tibetans physical attributes of going about propitiating gods/deities, raising prayer-flags, burning incense, circumambulating mountains and holy places adhere very much to the ancient norms. Ordinary folks offer incense and hoist prayer-flag as much to increase the welfare and fortune in this life as to accumulate merit, which in turn brings about a better rebirth in the next.