Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
An Introduction to Sera’s Colleges
by José Ignacio Cabezón
January 30, 2006
Section 4 of 4

Notes

[1] Today each of the colleges teach the entire exoteric scholastic curriculum, but there is some evidence that in the early days colleges were somewhat specialized. Hence, Desi Sanggyé Gyatso states that at Drepung’Bras spungs, “GomangSgo mang, LosellingBlo gsal gling, TösamlingThos bsam gling, a.k.a. GyelwaRgyal ba, and ShakkorShag skor were the colleges that were principally responsible for Madhyamaka and Prajñāpāramitā; Monastic Discipline (Dülwa’dul ba pa), i.e., Vinaya College was principally responsible for [the Buddha’s] first series of teachings, the dharma-wheel of the four [noble] truths; DeyangBde yangs was responsible for the Pramāṇa [tradition] of the Lord of Reasoning, Dharmakīrti; and NgakpaSngags pa (i.e., the Tantric College) [was responsible for] the profound vehicle of the Tantra, focusing on [the deities] Guhyasamāja and Yamāntaka” (Sde srid sangs rgyas rgya mtsho, Dga’ ldan chos ’byung bai dūrya ser po [Mtsho sngon: Zhin hwa dpe tshong khang, 1991], 105).
[2] In the case of Drepung’Bras spungs, it was the founder of the monastery, the first throne-holder, Jamyang Chöjé’Jam dbyangs chos rje (1379-1449), who created the colleges. In the case of SeraSe ra, the historical sources are inconsistent. Some say that it was SeraSe ra’s founder, Jamchen ChöjéByams chen chos rje (1354-1435), himself, who founded the colleges; others claim that it was the third throne-holder, Gungru Gyeltsen ZangpoGung ru rgyal mtshan bzang po (1383-1450), who was responsible for instituting colleges. In the case of GandenDga’ ldan, while there appears to have been a quasi-college structure early on, it was the third holder of the GandenDga’ ldan throne, Khedrup Gelek PelzangMkhas grub dge legs dpal bzang (1385-1438), who was responsible for converting these into philosophical colleges.
[3] The words instructor (chenyenpa’chad nyan pa), or master (lamabla ma), are also used to designate this office in the early period.
[4] At SeraSe ra there were initially four colleges, as we shall see; at GandenDga’ ldan there were two; and at Drepung’Bras spungs, seven.
[5] This was a formal position, the administrative head of the regional house. The tantric college (at least at SeraSe ra) had no regional houses, however.
[6] See, for example, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment by Tsong-kha-pa (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2001-2004), 3 vols., trans. The Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee, ed. Joshua W. C. Cutler and Guy Newland. And for a review: http://www.buddhistethics.org/8/cozor011.html.
[7] Of course, the GelukpaDge lugs pa were not the first to evolve scholastic academies. In fact, many early GelukpaDge lugs pa were trained in the academies of the SakyaSa skya school, the most famous of which was Sangpu NeutokGsang phu sne’u thog. SangpuGsang phu, in turn, was modeled on Indian Buddhist academies like Nālanda and Vikramaśīla.
[8] The granting of the title of geshédge bshes was a later development in the GelukDge lugs academies, although titles like this predate the founding of the GelukDge lugs school.
[9] Tshe dbang rin chen, ed., Se ra theg chen gling (Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1995), 44.
[10] Clare Harris and Tsering Shakya, Seeing Lhasa (Chicago: Serindia , 2003), 11.
[11] One wonders whether this might not have something to do with the fact that at the time of its founding the original monks of Lha bzang khang’s private ritual college were most likely monks from the capital.
[12] byes pa byes nas byon pa legs/ kun mkhyen chen po byon pa legs/ bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan tshugs pa legs/.
[13] The Powo KhangtsenSpo bo khang tshan belonged to both Byes and Smad Colleges.
[14] It is unclear whether kun mkhyen pa built anything more than the Hayagrīva Chapel during his time at SeraSe ra.
[15] phyi gser po/ nang dmar po.
[16] Tshe dbang rin chen, ed., Se ra theg chen gling (Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1995), back cover.
[17] The monks hold elections for the abbot, and the names of the senior teachers who achieve the highest number of votes are presented in a list to His Holiness the Dalai Lama\, who then makes the final selection.
[18] Tshe dbang rin chen, ed., Se ra theg chen gling, (Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1995), 44).
[19] Individually, monks who belong to the Mé College often do, however, still read the textbooks of Khedrup Tenpa DargyéMkhas grub bstan pa dar rgyas (Khedrup TendarMkhas grub bstan dar).
[20] This is not to say, however, that the present Tantric College assembly hall is necessarily the very same temple built by the founder of SeraSe ra, Jamchen ChöjéByams chen chos rje, in 1419.
[21] One wonders whether this might not have something to do with the fact that at the time of its founding the original monks of Lhazang KhangLha bzang khang’s private ritual college were most likely monks from the capital.
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An Introduction to Sera's Colleges, by José Ignacio Cabezón