Sera Monastery famous Buddhist place of Lhasa

Sera Monastery Lhasa Tibet
The Sera Monastery is one of the largest in the Tibetan region. Throughout years, it has not lost its function as monastic university for numerous monks and pilgrims. Here, you may see monks debating, an ancient tradition punctuated with vigorous gestures, and some priceless treasure like Buddhist books written with gold ink.

Two Meanings of the Name

Located 5 kilometers north of Lhasa, the Sera Monastery is one of the "Three Great Monasteries in Lhasa". Its name would have two meanings. The first simply designate a rosebush. Sera Monastery would be the enclosure of roses. Indeed, “Sera" also mean hail. And, some say, during the construction of the monastery, it would have hailed and so we have given it this name to the monastery. The first translation is preferred, of course.

Sakya Yeshi

Originally the Sera Monastery, Sakya Yeshi was one of the direct disciples of Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelugpa sect, or Yellow Hats sect. Sent by him to the court of Emperor ChengZu, he received the title of Grand Master and maintained good relations with the Chinese emperors. So many sacred relics in the Sera Monastery were actually gifts for emperors. For example, the case of Buddhist books, Gangyur, written in gold ink. Each case is protected by wooden boards annotated by Emperor Yongle in person.

Monastic University

Just like the Drepung Monastery, but on a smaller scale, the Sera Monastery is also a monastic university of Tibet. It consists of three colleges. The first of these three was founded during the construction of the monastery in 1419. In the Buddhist school, the best learning way is to discuss Buddhist texts between apprentices. This is how it is still conducted here every day at 3 pm in the afternoon. Thus, by visiting the gardens of the monastery, it is possible to see the monks in the debates. Do not expect to fully understand, considering that the debates taking place in Tibetan. And the tradition of such debate is traced to the ancient “Hindu Orthodoxy” in India.

A Unfortunately Past

Sera Monastery unfortunately has suffered severe damage during the various revolts. In 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled to India, many of the colleges were destroyed and many monks were forced into exile in India. Regarding its steeped history, it is strongly connected with Master Lama Tsongkhapa. You may discover more details in your trip.

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  • Altitude

    3 658M Altitude Sera Monastery
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