Short History of the Khangtsen

Short History of Sera Jey and the Ngari Khangtsen

Lama Tsong Khapa (1357-1419) was born in Amdo, eastern Tibet, and became an eminent scholar. He reformed the old Kadampa school, creating the new Gelugpa school (‘System of Virtue,’ popularly known as the Yellow Hats) which was to become the most powerful in the entire region. He was the main teacher of the first Dalai Lama, Gendun Drub (1391-1474). The massive Ganden Monastic University which he founded in 1409, east of Lhasa, was one of the largest monasteries in the entire Himalayan region with many thousands of monks. Tsong Khapa also founded the two other big Yellow Hat monasteries of central Tibet: Drepung in 1416 to the west of Lhasa and Sera Jey in 1419 to the north of the capital of Tibet.

Today, Sera Jey has been recreated in exile in Southern India, due to the unfortunte political events that have rocked Tibet from 1959 and onwards. Founded in India 1963, the Sera Monastic University was the first monastery in India, where monks in exile were trying to recreate the great monasteries of Tibet. Sera Monastery started with only 300 monks, who were at first living under a tent and then in little houses, that were kindly provided by the Indian authorities. As problems in the home-land grew bigger, more and more monks went into exile and the number of monks has gradually increased until reaching 6000 today!

The University was originally established in 1419 at the same time when Jamchen Choeje Shakya Yeshe, who was one of Lama Tsong Khapa’s principal disciples, established the Sera Theckchen Ling Monastery in Tibet. According to oral records, Jamchen Choeje got one of his close disciples, Guge Geshe Tenzin Choegyal, to establish Ngari Khangtsen for the purpose of accommodating disciples arriving from western Tibet: the regions of Ngari and Guge and also from Ladakh and Zanskar of the Himalayan regions.