Panoramas of Sera Monastery in Tibet
Ngakpa Assembly Hall
(sngags pa 'du khang)
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Images of Ngakpa Assembly Hall
THL Reference Number: s043
College Affiliation: Ngakpa (sngags pa)
Regional House Affiliation: none
What is now the Tantric College assembly hall may have been the general assembly hall for the whole monastery before the building of the Great Assembly Hall in the early 18th century. It is said to be the oldest of the four large assembly halls. Tradition has it that when he became ruler of Tibet, lha bzang khan (d. 1717) instituted a personal ritual college (sku rim grwa tshang) where ceremonies were carried out exclusively on his behalf. The ritual college had no fixed home, and instead traveled from place to place, meeting in the environs of lha sa (e.g., at pha bong kha) in the winter, and in byang (northern Tibet) in the summer. When Lha bzang khan resolved to build the se ra Great Assembly Hall (sometime after 1705), he decided to use the previous assembly hall as the permanent base for his ritual college. Eventually, the ritual college became the Tantric College of se ra (sngags pa rgwa tshang).
It would seem that all of the monks of this college came only from Central Tibet. To gain official admission, monks would have to memorize all of the various ritual cycles, and take a series of formal oral examinations. The Tantric College is exclusively dedicated to tantric ritual practice (i.e., there is no philosophical curriculum). Throughout the year, the monks engage in five major ritual cycles (chos thog) related to four deities: Guhyasamaja (12th Tibetan month), Yamantaka (6th Tibetan month) Cakrasamvara (10th Tibetan month), Sarvavid (Vairocana, 4th Tibetan month), and the nine long life gods (tshe dpag lha dgu, 2nd Tibetan month).