Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Sera Chöding Hermitage
by José Ignacio Cabezón
January 30, 2006
Section 2 of 4


Sera Chöding Hermitage (Sera Chöding RitröSe ra chos sdings ri khrod) was one of TsongkhapaTsong kha pa’s principal retreat centers. It was the place where he gave many of his most important teachings,2 and, as we have said, where he composed one of his most famous works, his Great Commentary on the Prajñāmūla (Tsashé TikchenRtsa shes ṭīk chen).3 ChödingChos sdings is the place where TsongkhapaTsong kha pa’s closest disciple, KedrupjéMkhas grub rje (1385-1438), first met his master. It is where TsongkhapaTsong kha pa ordered Jamchen ChöjéByams chen chos rje (1354-1435), the founder of SeraSe ra, to go to China as his representative. At ChödingChos sdings, TsongkhapaTsong kha pa tamed the “site-spirit,” converting him into a protector of Buddhism. Finally, it is the place where TsongkhapaTsong kha pa entrusted his Tantric teachings to Jé Sherap SenggéRje shes rab seng ge (1383-1445), the founder of the Tantric Colleges.

TsongkhapaTsong kha pa’s throne at ChödingChos sdings – the place where he gave some of his most important teachings.

It is perhaps because of this association with Jé Sherap SenggéRje shes rab seng ge that at some point in its history the site came under the aegis of the Lower Tantric College. We do not know precisely when this occurred, but from that point on, ChödingChos sdings became the location of one of the Tantric College’s annual ritual cycles. Before 1959, SeraSe ra was responsible for sending one monk every year to serve as caretaker of the main ChödingChos sdings temple. This appears to be the vestige of a more formal affiliation to SeraSe ra in the past. However, up to 1959 the hermitage was for all intents and purposes run by monks of the Lower Tantric College.

After liberalization permitted the rebuilding of the smaller monasteries around LhasaLha sa, SeraSe ra formally claimed ChödingChos sdings as its own. Today, it is the property of SeraSe ra and has no formal affiliation with the Tantric College. There is one elder caretaker monk who keeps the hermitage open for visitors and pilgrims.

[1] See Ser smad spom ra dge bshes ye shes dbang phyug, Ser smad thos bsam nor gling grwa tshang gi chos ’byung lo rgyus nor bu’i phreng ba [A History of the Sermé Tösam Norling College: A Garland of Jewels] (Bylakuppe: Sermey Printing Press, 1984), 34-35.
[2] For a list of these, see Bshes gnyen tshul khrims, Lhasé Gönto Rinchen PunggyenLha sa’i dgon tho rin chen spungs rgyan [A Catalogue of the Monasteries of Lhasa: A Heap of Jewels] (Bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang, 2001), 47.
[3] The work has been translated by Jay Garfield and Ngawang Samten, An Ocean of Reasoning (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2006).
Sera Choding Hermitage , by José Ignacio Cabezón

Table of Contents

  1. Location and Layout
  2. History
  3. Glossary
  4. Notes
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