Sera Monastery

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Panoramas of Sera Monastery in Tibet

Sera M College Information

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THL Reference Number: f1165

College Name - Wylie: smad

Number of Monks Prior to 1959: 2500+

Total Number of Monks 2002: 210

Number of Monks 2002 (official): 140

Number of Monks 2002 (unofficial): 70

Tutelary Deity:

Protector Deity:

Author of Textbook:


Founding Date: 15th century

Construction Date of Current Temple: 1761

Construction Patron of Current Temple:


The M (smad) College is the smaller of Sera's two philosophical colleges. Its name, meaning "Lower," derives from the fact that, by comparison to Sera's other temples, the M College complex sits lower (or farther south) in the monastery grounds. A disciple of Tsongkhapa, Knkhyen Jangchup Bumpa (kun mkhyen byang chub 'bum pa), founded the M College a few decades after the founding of Sera in the fifteenth century. It became quickly known as a great educational institution, a "precious place for study and contemplation" (thos bsam nor gling). Up to 1959 the College administered a 20 yearlong program of intensive doctrinal-philosophical studies that culminated in the prestigious gesh (dge bshes) degree.

Before 1959, the M College was divided into 16 regional houses or khangtsens (khang tshan) that ranged in size from fifty to several hundred monks. Monks from different part of Tibet would usually enter one or another of these houses depending upon the geographical region of the country from which they hailed. The College administration, under the leadership of the abbot, resided on the upper stories of the M College temple. That temple still houses the famous chapel of the protector deity Tawog, especially popular with lay visitors to the monastery.

Because the number of monks is much smaller today than it once was, in the 1990?s the two philosophical colleges J and M decided to consolidate their educational and ritual programming. The two colleges no longer have their own abbots, and instead share a common abbot. There is also no separate administration at the college level, since a monastery-wide governing board runs most of the day-to-day affairs. Except for one or two exceptions throughout the year, the monks now meet together in the Great Assembly Hall, rather than meeting separately in their respective college assembly halls. After the merger of the two colleges, the textbooks (yig cha) of the J College were adopted, and so the traditional textbooks of M are no longer officially used.

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