Great Lama Je Tsonghkapa
The 14th century in the history of Tibetan Buddhism was an era of reformation. A child named Kunga Nyingpo was born in AD 1357, in a small hamlet Tsongkha in eastern Tibet.
The 14th century in the history of Tibetan Buddhism was an era of reformation. A child named Kunga Nyingpo was born in AD 1357, in a small hamlet Tsongkha in eastern Tibet. The newborn baby was destined to be the greatest reformer saint Je Tsongkhapa Lobsang Dragpa, who will establish a new system in Buddhism of Tibet.
At a very young age of 3 years, a great scholar saint Karma Rolpei Dorje introduced Kunga Nyingpo to preliminary Buddhist practices. Since then, for a whole 26 years, he was under the guidance of the most eminent Buddhist scholars of Tibet, and studied all aspects of Buddhist studies.
At a young age of 29, he wrote his first major work on Buddhist views – “Golden String of Elegant Saying”, and besides writing books providing his views on various topics of Sutra and Tantra (the 2 major fields of study in Buddhism), he also gave many religious discourses and teachings too. The profound and clear views expressed in his books and teachings were accepted and followed by Tibetans, and consequently, a new section in Tibetan Buddhism came into existence.
As time passed, the number of his followers grew rapidly and there was an urgent need to establish a centre to look after the progress of their study, as well as their well being. Henceforth, great Tsongkhapa launched the construction of Gaden Monastery (Tushita the great seat of Tsongkhapa) at Dhog Riwoche near to Lhasa.
Gaden Monastery was later counted as one of the “Den-sa-sum”, the 3 great monasteries of Tibet. Reputed to have 3,300 sangha in 1959, it was not only a residence for monks holding all the precepts of the “Vinaya” or moral discipline, but also a large monastic educational center where monks came to study from all over Tibet.
The youngest students started about age seven and their rigorous course of study lasted many years. Besides study, there were different tasks to be fulfilled in the monastery so there was also training for religious musicians, artists, statue makers, sculptors, secretaries, disciplinarians and managers.
Unlike other great monasteries of Tibet which merely specializes in a specific field such as Sutra or Tantra, Gaden provided a complete study of Buddhism (both Sutra and Tantra) – henceforth, a scholar from Gaden means having complete knowledge of Buddhism.
Gaden in Tibet was located in an especially beautiful place upon a high hill at the height of 14,000 feet from sea level, where there were 2 colleges – Shartse and Jangtse in Gaden Monastery.