Traditional Learning and Practice Centers
Monasteries and Buddhist institutes produce teachers who keep the traditions of Buddhism alive. To preserve Buddhism as a living tradition Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is the director of monastic colleges in Tibet, India, and Bhutan. These institutions provide the necessary training for young lamas to become qualified dharma teachers. These young lamas are the future of dharma study; it is up to them to ensure that Buddhism’s academic tradition continues.
The five monastic colleges under Rinpoche’s patronage are:
- Dzongsar Monastery/Dzongsar Khamje Shedra, Derge, Eastern Tibet
- Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Institute, Chauntra, Himachal Pradesh, India
- Chokyi Gyatso Institute (CGI), Samdrup Jongkhar, Dewathang, Bhutan
- Bartsham Dharma Center, Bartsham Drubdra, Bhutan
Innovation and organization are a big part of our work at these monasteries. The Dzongsar Institutes maintain traditional academic excellence while expanding their curricula in ways that are gaining international recognition. Rinpoche has invited lecturers to present courses on subjects such as the global economy, history, and western philosophy. Plans are in place to produce Buddhist teacher-scholars who can speak English and Chinese and who are computer literate. A new exchange program has been established between the Dzongsar Institutes and major universities in the west, beginning with George Washington University in Washington D.C.
Dzongsar Khamje Shedra
Derge, Eastern Tibet
Dzongsar Khamje Shedra was founded in 1871 on a plain below Dzongsar Monastery in eastern Tibet. It was designed in the form of a drawn bow and arrow, attributes of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. The great 18th century masters Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Chökgyur Lingpa prophesied that a college on this location would greatly benefit the Buddhist teachings. The original structure was expanded by Jamyang Khyentse Chöki Lodrö in 1918.
The Shedra was destroyed in the 1960s, but reconstruction was begun in 1986, at the behest of the late Panchen Lama. Sponsored by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, the basic structure of a college was completed in 1989. At present, the college has over 1,000 students. The current curriculum, which was set by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, includes study of the Buddhist scriptures such as the tripitaka, the shastras, the tantras, and the sciences of poetry, astrology, and medicine. Many graduates of this college have become teachers themselves. In addition to the shedra there are two retreat centers at Dzongsar Monastery housing over 800 monks and nuns on long-term retreat.
Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Institute
Chauntra, Himachal Pradesh, India
Under the guidance and support of its principal, the venerable Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk, Dzongsar Institute relocated from Bir to Chauntra, Himachal Pradesh, India in 2004 and was renamed Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Institute (DKCLI). His Holiness the Dalai Lama presided over the three-day inauguration.
The Institute was administered by Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk until his passing in 2008. Then, Khenpo Jamyang Lösel was the abbot from 2008-2013; he has now been succeeded by Khenpo Choying Dorjee, the current abbot. The student body is composed of over 500 monks from various locales and monasteries, representing all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The curriculum encompasses a complete theoretical education in Buddhist Philosophy over nine years of study (for a Shastri degree) or eleven years of study (for an Archarya degree). Graduates may pursue further studies and responsibilities and become teachers or khenpos. Many Dzongsar graduates are now teaching the teachers of tomorrow, ensuring that the lineage of the Buddha remains unbroken.
The primary language of instruction in Tibetan. The Institute also runs an intensive English language program, sponsored by Khyentse Foundation to fulfill Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's vision of a more worldly-wise set of teachers who can travel and teach across many physical and cultural divides. Khyentse Foundation also sponsors the basic operating needs of the Institute.
Contact: Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Institute, P.O. Chauntra Distt. Mandi – 175032, (H.P.) INDIA
Website [Chinese language]: www.chokyilodro.org
Chökyi Gyatso Institute (CGI)
The Chokyi Gyatso Institute (CGI) in Samdrup Jongkhar, Dewathang, Bhutan, started as a small temple built by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s maternal grandfather, the late Lama Sonam Zangpo. His great aspiration was for Khyentse Rinpoche to develop Dewathang monastery into a “shedra”, a Buddhist college. In 1990, to fulfill his grandfather’s wish, Khyentse Rinpoche founded the CGI.
In 2003, the CGI entered into a ten-year period of renovation. After a great deal of hard work supported by many different people, the new monastery has now entered its final stage of reconstruction.
The CGI offers more than 140 monks a thorough education in Buddhist philosophy. It also upholds the traditional and practice lineage of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, including annual drubchos and drubchens, based on Khandro Sangdu, Pema Tseyi Nyingtik, Vima Ladrub, Minling Dorsem and Phagma Nyingtik, as well as many other practices. As such, the CGI now functions as a “shedrub”, where monks are now able to both to study and to practice the Buddhadharma.
Dechen Lhendup, Chokyi Gyatso Institute, Dewathang, Samdrup Jongkhar, Bhutan.
Bartsham Dharma Centre
Bartsham Drubdra, Bhutan
The Chador Lhakhang, or Sangdha Gyepay Ling, in Bartsham, originally built in the 12th century, is one of the oldest and most sacred monasteries in eastern Bhutan. Located atop a ridge that commands a spectacular view of villages in north Trashigang, the monastery is a revered place of worship for the 700-household Bartsham community and devotees across the country.
The monastery is the custodian of one of Bhutan’s most highly regarded religious treasures, a thumb-size replica of Chana Dorji that, legend has it, reached Bartsham through a sacred divination. The origin of the replica, fondly called Meme Chador by the local people, goes back to the Sangdha Tumpo (the secret Treasure Teachings) revealed by the great treasure revealer Terton Pema Lingpa.
The foundation for the present-day Chador Lhakhang was laid in the early 1940s by Lama Pema Wangchen (also known as Lama Nagpo) to transmit the Dudjom Tersar tradition of his master Dudjom Jigdral Yeshey Dorje (Dudjom Rinpoche). After Lama Nagpo passed away, his disciple Lam Kunzang Wangdi (Lam Nyingku) took over the monastery.
Yogi School & Phurpai Drupchhen
The monastery has undergone several transformations over the years. Lama Nagpo established it as a Gomchen Dratshang (yogi school) and initiated a major renovation in 1986 that culminated with a grand consecration by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. At that momentous event, Lama Nagpo and the Bartsham community offered the custody of the monastery and the lay monks to Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and initiated the Phurbai Drupchen that is now performed every year.
Today, the monastery hosts 80 gomchen (lay monks and Terser practitioners) who undertake retreats varying from 6 months to 12 years. Every year, more than 70 days of rituals and other Dharma-related activities are performed at the monastery, including the 10-day Phurpai Drupchen, the 8-day recitation of the Kanjur, the 10-day rite (Tshechu) during the fifth month of the Buddhist calendar, the 3-day Chökor (circumambulation), and the 20-day Soendoep (deity appeasement rites). In addition, numerous ad-hoc rituals and ceremonies are performed for the benefit of all sentient beings.
In 1994, on the initiative of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Lam Nyingku, a Buddhist College (Shedra) was established adjoining the monastery to further promote the dharma and to facilitate Terser practitioners from around the world. The center currently supports more than 80 students who are mostly orphans or belong to extremely poor families and cannot afford an education.
The 12-year courses taught at the Shedra include liturgical studies, rigney (grammar), Buddhist philosophy, astrology, rituals, other Buddhist practices, and 3 years of retreat. The Shedra has drawn distinguished faculty, including two learned khenpos (abbots). On completing their education, the Shedra students join the lay monks at the monastery.
Contact: Sangdha Gyepay Ling, Bartsam; Tashigang
Phone:+ 975 4 563003, 563004