The bka'-gdams Sect was the first sect to appear during the Later Period of Buddhism in Tibet. "bKa" means "Buddhism" in the Tibetan language, and "gdams" means "teach." The word bKa'-gdams therefore referred to using Buddhist scriptures to guide ordinary people's behavior.
The founder of the bKa-gdams Sect was the famous Buddhism master Atisa, who was invited to Tibet from India by the Guge Kingdom. In 1045, the Tibetan lay Buddhist Brom-ston-pa became a pupil of Atisa. In 1055 he presided over the meeting commemorating the first anniversary of Atisa's death in Nyatang. At the invitation of the head of the Damxung area in northern Tibet, he traveled to Rwasgreng to spread Buddhism and establishes the Raw-sgreng monastery. Rwa-sgreng Monastery was the main monastery and founding place of the bKa'-gdams Sect.
The most important scripture of the bKa'-gdams Sect was "The lamp that shows the Path to Enlightenment." This work emphasized that monks should practice Buddhism step by step. The canons of bKa'-gdams originated with the Open School Buddhism (also called Mahayana). When compared with the Esoteric School of Buddhism (Theravada), the Open School advocated practicing according to obvious Buddhist doctrines and can be spread to anyone. It says that the Open School and the Esoteric School should not have conflicts, instead, they should compromise with each other. Esoteric Buddhism also has special function.
The bKa'-gdams Sect developed three branches. Each had its own scriptures and doctrines. In the late 13th century, the bKa'-gdams monk btslom-ian-ral-gri collected Tibetan-language scriptures preserved in the Sna-thang Monastery and edited the bKa'-'gyur@ 9Buddhist teschings) and the bs Tan-'gyur@ (compendium to Buddhist Sutras and Commandments). These were the earliest compilations of Tibetan-languages Buddhist scripture and played an important role in the development of Buddhism in China.
The bKa'-gdams Sect had a great influence on other Tibetan sects because of its systematized doctrines and Kargyu Sect and the Sakya Sect, studied under monks from the bKa'-gdams Sect. As a matter of fact, the Gelug Sect was formed on the basis of the bKa'-gdams Sect. Many important theories of Tibetan Buddhism originated with the writings of the bKa'-gdams Sect. The logical structures created by r-Ngog Legs-pa'I-shes-rab and rNgog Blo-ldan-shes-rab are known as the New logic by historians studying Tibetan Buddhism. With the flourishing of the Gelug Sect beginning in the 15th century, many of the bKa'-gdams monasteries were taken over by the Ge-lugs, and the bKa'-gdams Sect gradually disappeared in Tibet.