For example: “Those who are attached to the little religion propitiate the deities and the sky, and if even a single good thing occurs, they say that they don’t need the excellent religion.” This manuscript is among the earlier Dunhuang manuscripts (mid-9th century) and the text it contains may well be earlier than that.
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(3) Finally I look at some later Dunhuang manuscripts containing texts criticizing funerary rituals, where we do find reference to Bon as a religion.
Specifically, from Or.8210/S.12243 we have the statement: “In the past, Tibetan interment was practised according to the Bon religion.” So some Buddhist authors were beginning to talk about a Bon religion, though probably only with reference to funerary rituals.
I conclusion, I suggest that the idea of a non-Buddhist Tibetan religion as an entity came from the Buddhist missionaries in Tibet, in their criticism of Tibetan beliefs and rituals.