Tibet monasteries

Drepung Monastery :Situated 5 kms’ distance to the western suburb of Lhasa at the foot of Mt. Ganpoi Uze. Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choje, a disciple Tsongkapa, the founder of Gelugpa Sect. The Monastery , occupying an area of 250,000 sq. m. with a fixed number of 7,700 monks, is the largest monastery in Tibet . The monastery keeps plentiful historical relics. Buddhist scriptures, arts and crafts.

Shalu Monastery : Lying 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Shigatse, the monastery was founded in 1040 by Chetsun Sherab Jungnay. Shalu, meaning New Bud in Tibetan, was named after a story. His teacher suggested him to built a monastery where his arrow hit. The flying arrow finally hit a new bud. In 1320, Buton Rinpoche, one of the greatest religious scholars was invited to be abbot of the monastery. Buton’s religious knowledge covered so wide a range that he brought together the one hundred and eight volumes of the fundamental texts of Buddhism, Kanjur, and the two hundred volumes of “treaties and commentaries”, Tenjur, and attracted over 3,000 monks to attend his teachings. Shulupa, or Butonpa took form under his leadership. However since he had no interest in politics, his sect was not very influential. The most magic feats of Shalupa were monks learned to raise their body temperature to such a level that they wore the simplest clothing to resist coldness and to run at superhuman leaps to cover a long range without rest. In 1329, the monastery was demolished in an earthquake and in 1333, Buton rebuilt it under the patron the Chinese Mongolian emperor. Since many Chines Han artisans participated the reconstruction the monastery combined Tibetan and Chinese style of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) together, the only one of its type existing in Tibet.

Shalu Lakhang is the center of the monastery. On the ground floor, in the Tshomchen, Sakyamuni and his disciples are enshrined. The chapels flanking it houses Tanjur and Kanjur respectively. Chapels on the roof floor are typical Chinese blue tiled structures, housing Sakyamuni, Buton, and Arhats. Massive delicate and old murals cover the walls of the monastery, mostly depicting stories from the life of the Buddha. Restoration and preservation are badly needed to protect those arts.

Shalu has four treasures, which are a sutra board, which is 700 years old and cannot be reassembled once broken apart, a piece of sutra printed against the board regarded a good luck; a brass urn, which is usually covered with a piece of red cloth and sealed, the holy water may clean 108 filths and is changed every 12 years; a stone basin, which was Chetsun Sherab Jungnay’s washbasin; and a stone tablet, which was uncovered in the first construction of Shalu and on which a mantra, om mani Padme Hum and four dagobas are carved.

Sera monastery : The Sera Monastery is one of the great monasteries. Like a garden of religious activity, it drew students from the far corners of Tibet . Founded in 1419 by Sakya Yeshe, Sera are one of the best-preserved monasteries in the country. Its principle buildings were miraculously spared during the Cultural Revolution and a few hundred monks live there today. The monastery will excite your spiritual soul with many colorful paintings of Gods and Goddesses. You will enjoy the unexpected architecture as you have an opportunity to learn about the history of Tibetan Buddhism. You may be lucky enough to witness the monks debating in the courtyard grounds.

Samye Monastery : Situated in Dranang, Samye Monastery was completed in 779 under the patron of Trisong Detsen. At the time of Samye’s construction, Buddhism had been transmitted into Tibet , but there were no formal Buddhist priests or rituals. Trisong Detsen decided to invite Santarakshita and Padmasambhava, both Buddhist figureheads in India , to promote Buddhism in Tibet and participate in the construction of a monastery. Padmasambhava chose the construction site while the design was done by Santarakshita. After the construction was completed, Buddhism became the official religion in Tibet . Learned monks from inland China and India were invited to Tibet to translate Buddhist sutras into Tibetan. Trisong Detsen selected seven nobles to be the first monks in Tibet . Samye became the first formal monastery that established “triratna”, referring to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, or Buddhist priesthood.

Samye means “unimaginable” in Tibetan. It was said that when Tritsong Detsen asked for suggestions about the construction of the monastery, Padmasambhava, exerting his magic power, showed the king an image of a monastery in his palm. That is the origin of the name.

The monastery combines the styles of China , Tibet and India , and the layout was designed to represent the ideal universe described in Buddhist scriptures. “Utse”, the Great Hall symbolizing “Sumeru” in perfect Buddhist universe, is the largest structure in the monastery. The Sun and Moon chapels encircle the large hall, and four “stupas” of different styles stand at each corner of the room. These “stupas” are colored in red, white, black and green to represent the four Heavenly Kings. Four larger halls and eight smaller ones, evenly distributed around “Utse,” represent the oceans in that universe. The monastery is secluded from the outside world by a circular wall with thousands of Buddha statues sitting on it. This wall represents a mountain near the border of the universe.

Sakya Monastery : Located in Sakya County , the monastery stood in two parts on either side of Dongchu River . This monastery is the center of the Sakyapa Sect (White Earth Order). The northern part of the monastery was built in the year 1079 and the southern part founded in 1268 by a famous abbot of Sakya named Pagpa who once had ruled the whole of Tibet under the Yuan Dynasty’s supervision. The monastery has great influence over the Tibetan history and cultural development. The State Council of PRC has classified it the national level protected monument. Owing to its valuable and voluminous amount of Buddhist sutras and cultural remains, the monastery is often considered as the “Tunhuang the second”.

Kumbu Monastery:The Kubum Monastery was built in the 15th century, It is situated in the west of Gyantse Town With mountains enclosing from the east, west and north 3 sides, its uniqueness is that its three Sects of Buddhism-shaja, Ningma and Guolu are living harmoniously under one roof. Each sect Has 6-7 courtyards in the monastery. There are various kinds of thangas, a huge bronze statue of jiangba, the jainrese of a Thousand Hands and a Thousand Eyes in the monastery. There is a hall of arhat mad during the Ming Dynasty.The arhats are so vivid that they look very much alive. Besides the monastey is the world famous 9-storey 10,000-Buddha Pagoda.It stands 32 m,has 108 Doors,77 buddhist chambers and countless shrines. Enshrine in the Pagoda are 10,000 statues of Buddha.The Pagoda opens 8 doors which are decorated with relief sculptures of lively flying dragons, running lions and walking elephants.It is a masterpiece of the joint efforts of the Nepalese, Tibetan and Chinese.

Tashilunpo Monastery:The Tashilhunpo Monastery sprawls on the slope of Mt.Niser, southwest of Shigatse .It covers an area of about 300,000 square meters with a floor space of about 30,000 sqiare ,eters. Painted in red and white, the buildings in the monastery stand closely together in terraced rows,offering a grand and majestic view. The monastery was founded in 1447 by Gendun Zhuba, one of the principal disciples of the Founder of the Yellow Sect Zongkaba, and was then enlarged consistently by different generations of panchen Lama until it acquired its present dimensions.Gendun Zhuba was first abbot of the monastery,and in 1600 at the invitation of the monastery,the 4th Panchen lama became the 16th abbot of it, thus made the monastery abode of the succeeding Panchen lamas ever since.

There are many valuable and rare historical articles in the monastery, among them are found a lot of gold and jade signets, and imperial certificates bestowed by Emoerors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties as well as a seal of “Daitu” of the Yuan Dynasty scribed in the new Mongolianlanguage reformed by Basba.T hey are of great value for the study of history.