Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

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

History

We know nothing of the history of this site before the fourteenth century. The monastery was originally one of the places where TsongkhapaTsong kha pa did retreat. This is what gives the site its name: “drupkhangsgrub khang” means “retreat house.” It was the fact that it had been a retreat spot for TsongkhapaTsong kha pa that drew the founder, Drupkhang Gelek GyatsoSgrub khang dge legs rgya mtsho,2 to the site. DrupkhangpaSgrub khang pa was advised to make it his residence by the abbot of the Jé College (Dratsang JéGrwa tshang byes) of SeraSe ra, Jotön Sönam GyeltsenJo ston bsod nams rgyal mtshan (seventeenth century). DrupkhangpaSgrub khang pa lived in TsongkhapaTsong kha pa’s retreat house at the site for many years, leading an extremely frugal and ascetic existence. It was his reputation as a great meditator, combined with his knowledge of the philosophical tradition that drew students to him.3 The most famous of these became posthumously recognized as the first incarnations of important lamabla ma lineages of SeraSe ra. Following the example of their teacher, they also lived in retreat for a good portion of their lives, either founding or serving as the head lamas (nekyi lamagnas kyi bla ma) of important SeraSe ra-affiliated retreat centers. DrupkhangpaSgrub khang pa’s students include, for example, Purchok Ngawang JampaPhur lcog ngag dbang byams pa (1682-1762), and Khardo Zöpa GyatsoMkhar rdo bzod pa rgya mtsho (1672-1749). There is a tradition, reported by Dungkar RinpochéDung dkar rin po che, that DrupkhangpaSgrub khang pa was responsible for founding three hermitages as practice-centers (drupdésgrub sde): his own hermitage with seventeen fully ordained monks, Purchok Hermitage (Purchok RitröPhur lcog ri khrod) with one hundred monks, and Rakhadrak Hermitage (Rakhadrak RitröRa kha brag ri khrod) with twelve monks.4

An image of DrupkhangpaSgrub khang pa at Sera UtséSe ra dbu rtse.

[2] On DrupkhangpaSgrub khang pa, see the Introduction to the Hermitages, history section.
[3] See the Introduction to the Hermitages, history section for more on this important figure.
[4] Dungkar Lozang TrinléDung dkar blo bzang ’phrin las, Dungkar Tsikdzö ChenmoDung dkar tshig mdzod chen mo [The Great Dungkar Dictionary] (Krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2002), 736. For the possible source of these figures 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), 94.
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Sera Utse Hermitage , by José Ignacio Cabezón

Table of Contents

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