About THL > Help > Sera Monastery Resources > Sera Monastery Project Overview
The Sera Project is a research and pedagogical initiative employing state-of-the-art digital technology in the service of creating the most comprehensive, interactive, multimedia database of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery ever attempted. The various nooks and crannies of this website allow you to explore the different facets of Sera, one of Tibet's most important monasteries. You will find sections on its physical layout, history, material culture, educational system, and ritual life – in short, all of the various aspects that together constitute the richness and complexity of Tibetan monastic life.
The Sera Project is a collaborative venture between University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) (the hosting institution), the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences (TASS), the University of Virginia, Charlottesville (UVA), and of course the monks of Sera (in Tibet, India and in various centers throughout the world).
Work on the Sera Project began in the early 1980s during the time that José Ignacio Cabezón, the project director, lived and studied in Sera-India. He continued his research on the monastery during a trip to Tibet in 1991, and most recently during month-long trips to both India and Tibet in the summer of 2002. For the latest phase of the work he has received funding from the University of California, Santa Barbara to conduct the first in a continuing series of research trips to Tibet and India to gather still and video images, as well as ethnographic, and archival raw material for much of what you will see in this website.
Many individuals – faculty, students and staff – have contributed to this work. For a full listing of contributors, see Collaborations and Credits. The following individuals have been especially important to the work of the Sera Project, and therefore deserve special mention. Tsewang Rinchen, Chief Librarian at TASS, and author/editor of Sera Thekchen Ling, provided the Project with an important map of the monastery, and has shared his extensive knowledge of Sera on various occasions. Buchung, also of TASS, helped to establish the formal liasons with the monastery in Tibet, and accompanied the research team on several trips to Sera during fieldwork in 2002. David Newman was Prof. José Cabezón's photographer and research assistant in Lhasa in July of 2002, and he has been responsible for all technical aspects of the creation of the <a href="/places/monasteries/sera/spaces/map/">interactive map</a>, a huge undertaking, and one of the most exciting parts of this website. Finally, Prof. David Germano has been a tremendous source of support for the project since its inception, providing material and human resources for this work at every turn.
Professor José I. Cabezón
with monks of Tsangpa Khangtsen in Sera-India
Given the scope of the project, as you might imagine, ours is long-term labor that is still in its infancy. In the months and years to come you will see new material added to the website. We urge you, therefore, to come visit us again. We also invite scholars with a research interest in Sera to make submissions to the project. And, needless to say, we welcome feedback from any and all users of the Sera Project website.
No medium – even one as rich in text, visual images, and sound as this one purports to be – can of course do justice to the richness and complexity of a phenomenon like Sera. Still, we are convinced that digital media are the single best means presently available to us for approximating the goal of presenting you with a holistic vision of what it was and is like to live in a Tibetan monastic institution of higher learning. As you explore Sera on this website, we hope that you will concur.