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“Tashi Lhunpo Monastic University”

at Serindia Gallery, O.P. Garden, Soi Charoenkrung 36
Saturday 20 February 4 –6 pm
(Talk is in ENGLISH)
Free of Charge, Refreshments served
Seats limited. Please RSVP
Tel: 02 238 6410
Mobile: 081 428 5453

The history of Tashi Lhunpo Monastic University in Tibet intersects with that of the relationship over the centuries of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. Gendun Drup, who posthumously was recognized as the first Dalai Lama, founded Tashi Lhunpo in 1447 in Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city. He was an outstanding but wandering teacher who was inspired by Jey Tsong Khapa, founder of the Gelukpa or “Yellow Hat” sect and of the first Gelukpa monastic university, Ganden, in Lhasa, to build his own “Ganden” in Shigatse. Both he and the second Dalai Lama resided there. The Great Fifth Dalai Lama, who built the Potala in Lhasa, gave Tashi Lhunpo in appreciation to his teacher, Lobsang Choyki Gyaltsen, (1570–1662) as his seat, along with support from some nearby villages, freed from paying tax to Lhasa. The Great Fifth named him the “Panchen Lama,” or “Great Scholar”; reserved the title “Panchen” only for him and his reincarnates and declared him to be the incarnation of Amitabha Buddha. Since then, Tashi Lhunpo Monastic University has been intended as the seat of the successive Panchen Lamas. They and the Dalai Lamas have played important roles in recognizing each other’s reincarnations and as each other’s teachers where possible. Together they are generally considered the two highest religious leaders for Tibet, the “sun and moon.”

The historic link of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama to Tashi Lhunpo makes it an important institution. And it specializes in teaching logic. In addition, its geographic location nearer to the border with India and further west than Lhasa, put it into contact as early as the 17th century with European explorers and foreign powers seeking influence in Tibet , but who were not always welcome in Lhasa. There were apparent attempts from many quarters to manipulate the Panchen Lama and disrupt ties with and influence of the Dalai Lama, for the advantage of foreign powers as well as some insiders.

Ruth Hayward will discuss and show a DVD about the history of Tashi Lhunpo Monastic University in Tibet and the Tashi Lhunpo in exile in India, and its relevance in contemporary history as well as for the future of Tibetan Buddhism. She is a Social Anthropologist (PhD Harvard, ’70), with both an academic and United Nations career, and is the President and Executive Director of the Panchen Lama-Tashi Lhunpo Project . She has published on topics ranging from child to international development, including lessons from South Asia on how to end violence against women and girls, and contributed to Serindia Publications’ “Wooden Wonders: Tibetan Furniture in Secular and Religious Life” (2004).

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