History of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

by the monks of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in exile, Bylakuppe, India,             November 2017


Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the principal monastery of the U-Tsang Province in Tibet, is one of the Great Four centres of the Gelugpa tradition and seat of the lineage of the Panchen Lama.  Tashi Lhunpo was founded by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gedun Drupe in 1447, and became the largest, most vibrant monastery in Tibet.


The monastery grew in importance in the 16th Century, when Tashi Lhunpo's Abbot, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen (1570-1662) was recognised as 4th Panchen Lama by the fifth Dalai Lama as an incarnation of Amitabha Buddha, the spiritual teacher of Chenrizig and the patron saint of Tibet, and was given the title 'Panchen Lama'. 'Panchen' is the shortened form of Pandita Chenpo, meaning Great Scholar. The Panchen Lamas became-together with the Dalai Lamas-the most important religious leaders in Tibet. In the same way as the Dalai Lama's, three previous Abbots of Tashi Lhunpo were retrospectively given the title Panchen Lama, making Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen the fourth in the line.


The relationship between the Dalai Lamas and the Panchen Lamas is unique. Each Lama in their lifetime is not only involved in the search for the other's reincarnation, but also assumes the role, first as the disciple and later as the master, of the other.


Under the 4th Panchen Lama, Tashi Lhunpo became an integrated society where monks from Tibet, Bhutan, India, Nepal and China lived in harmony, providing a community flourished as a centre of warmth and love of a family. Over the years the monastery flourished as a centre of learning, and played a vital role in the preservation of Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy and its Tradition.


By 1959, over 5,000 monks were resident in the Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet.   Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and the destruction caused by the Cultural Revolution, only 400-500 monks remain in the monastery. Some monks from Himalayan regions and very few Tibetans monks made the journey to India following His Holiness the Dalai Lama into exile, and in 1972, under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was established in Bylakuppe, Karnataka State, in South India. Here the over 300 monks continue to follow the same tradition and principles in exile as in their monastery in Tibet.


During the 1959-60s, some monks left Tibet because of the difficulties they faced in practicing Buddhism under the Chinese occupation. The 10th Panchen Lama was not able to leave Tibet, and as a result most of the senior Lamas from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery remained inside Tibet. Without the guidance of senior Lamas, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery has been at a disadvantage, and remains one of the poorest of the re-established monasteries.



Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is the seat of the successive lineage of the Panchen Lamas. This monastery was founded by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gedun Drup in year 1447. It was one of the largest and greatest monasteries in Tsang province in Tibet. Later under the guidance and supervision of His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen (1570 – 1620), it became an integrated society where over 5000 monks from Tibet, Bhutan, India, Mongol, Russia and Nepal, where they lived in harmony. It became a community where monks get proper education, warmth and love of a family. The most outstanding feature of Tashi Lhunpo monastery is its parental responsibility of looking after them in their rest of the life by respective khamtsens.  Over the years Tashi Lhunpo Monastery has matured into fully fledged recognized and reputed monastery playing a vital role in preservation of Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy. It has the glory of producing thousands of renowned scholars in the field of Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy.


The Dukhang (Prayer Hall) was built with 48 pillars consisting of the three   mini shrine located in the center, right and left. In the middle of the Dhukhang, one can glimpse  the  150 inch high statue "Thupa Du Dhul", which was built in remembrance of Jhetsun Sherab Singye (one of the senior abbot of the monastery).  It was built according to the dream of His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gedun Drup had and for further consecration His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama compiled seven pages of praise to Lord Buddha and built statue of Goddess white Tara (Jhe Jsun Dolma). The ritual objects inside the statue include relic pills of Lord Buddha, the hair and the lower robe of Jhe Tsong Khapa, the silver brand statue of Buddha Amitabha (Boundless Light), the skull of the Jhe Tsun Sherab Singye and scripture of Vinaya. On the either side of the statue there is a story high statue of the eight close disciples of Buddha Sakyamuni. There are also statues Tsepak Mei (Buddha of Limitless Life), and Menpai Gyalpo (Medicine Buddha).


The founder of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama had a dream where Khedrup Rinpoche (Tsongkhapa disciple) came forth and proposed to build the statue of Gyalwa Jampa (Maitreya, "the future Buddha") which would be extremely beneficial to all sentient beings. Soon after, he built a two and a half storey high statue of Gyalwa Jampa at the west of Dhukhang (one of the shrine). From the both side of Gyalwa Jampa's statue one can see the clay made storey high statue of Avalokiteshwara (Chen Re Zig) and Manjushri (Jamphel Yang), which were erected by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama himself. On the earlobe of Buddha Maitreya Statue, one can see an image of Jhe Tsonkhapa (the Founder of Gelugpa order) which emerged naturally, even today this image is available. His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama also saw Gyalwa Jampa coming forth in the yellow upper robe worn only by fully ordained monks and entering into the statue of Gyalwa Jampa again and again. In the east, mini Dukhang, there is a statue temple of Goddess White Tara.


The Gonkhang (the house of Guardian Deities) has a storey high statue of the Vajra Terrifies (Vajrabhairava) surrounded by Gonpo Chak Druk (Mahakala), Gon Kar (white Mahakala), Palden Lhamo (Mahakali), and Noe-gin (God of wealth). It houses the storey high statue of Choegyal Yab Yum (Kalarupa and Chamundi) and Palden Lhamo (Spiritual Protector) which were built by His Holiness the 2nd Dalai Lama, Gedun Gyatso. Which was kept secretly, as certain people may find the statue of Palden Lhamo terrifying to look at, except on December 8th according to the Tibetan calendar. In the midst of the Dhukhang, one can see the thrones of His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama to the 10th Panchen Lama Choekyi Gyaltsen.

There are four main Dratsang (Four Colleges), Nga-khang, (Tantric section) and other section which are described below:



The centre of this Dhukhang (Prayer hall) was built with 16 pillars, with a storey high statue of Lord Buddha made of gold and silver, encased in a clay cave. The main guardian deity of this College is Six Arm Mahakala (Gonpo Chak Duk). 50 Abbots up to Kachen Lobsang Choejor succeeded Shangton Dri Mei Shai Nyen, one of the foremost disciples of His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama. The monks had to study the analysis of the perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita), the Middle Path (Madhyamika), The Cannon of Monastic discipline (Vinaya), Metaphysics (Abhidharma), and Logic in developing mental power and dialectics sub commentary on (Pramana) written by well known scholar Lhek Pai Dhondup. The monks also had to study the Essence of Eloquence on the Art of Interpretation. The "Jewel of the true thought of the 'great commentary; The string of precious Gem; being an explanation by Panchen Lodoe Lheksang, of that holy book, the root text entitled the summary of "Vowed Morality". And on Philosophical Theories, Path and grounds and on seventy topics. This College has 16 main Khangtsens (school).



The centre of this Dhukhang (Prayer Hall) was built with 24 pillars, with a storey high statue of Lord Buddha, made of clay surrounded by the eight close disciples of the Buddha Sakyamuni; 1) Munjushri (Jamphel Yang), 2) Vajrapani (Chakna Dorjee), 3) Avolokiteshvara (Chen re Zig), 4) Ksitigarbha (Sayi Ningpo), 5) Sarvanivarana Viskambhin (Dipa Namsel), 6) Akasagarbha (Namkhai Ningpo), 7) Meitreya (Gyalwa Jampa), 8) Samantabhadra (Kun Tu Sangpo).  There is also a statue of Nei-Chu Dak Ri Ma. The Gonkhang (Temple of protector deity) is dedicated to Chamsing's taken by his holiness the 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen, from the collection of Treasure and Phur pa (a metallic ritual object held in the hands of high Lama's) of Drupe Chen Dha Char. Palden Choe kong, one of the best of disciples of His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama and he was succeeded by 57 Abbots up to Azong Kachen Lobsang Zotpa. The course of the monks consist of Tsemei-Tika   from Pramana by Jhe Monlam Ba vo Lek Pai Lodro, the great commentary and analysis on Pramana,  perfection  of Wisdom and the Middle Path, by Shantipa Lodoe Gyaltsen. The analysis on Vinaya and Abhidharma by Khedrupe Sangey Gyatso. And on Philosophical theories, Path and Grounds and on Seventy Topics. Khilkhang has 16 main Khangtsen (School).



The main Dhukhang (Prayer Hall) was built with 24 pillars, which consist of two mini shrines located in the right and left sides. In the right, one can see a storey high statue of the two principal attendants of Buddha Sakyamuni, known for his wisdom and intelligence, which are made of clay. On the left one can also see the storey high statue of Avalokestivara, Vajrapani, and Buddha Sakyamuni with Maitreya Buddha and Manjushri. The walls of the Gonkhang (temple of guardian deity) have frescoes of Palden Lhamo which had spoken. In front of that, there is a storey high statue of Sangye Rinchen Namgyal. Since Kunkhen Choejor Pelsang, 49 Abbots up to Kachen Lobsang Gyalpo succeeded one of the disciples of His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama.

The monks have to undergo the following subjects compulsorily, the great deeds of Kundhen Choejor's commentaries on RIG-GEN-MUN-SEL, THAL-THANG-KHE PAI GUL-GEN from the entitled text Pramana, Samphel Wangyal from the text entitled Perfection of Wisdom and Nyima Khikhor the text entitled Abhidharma. The "Jewel of the true thought explained by Jamyang Lobsang Sheinane of that holy book Summary of Vowed Morality", Philosophical Theories, the Seventy Topics, and the Path and Ground. The explanation or commentaries on the Middle Path by Jang ton Tsundue Gyaltsen. Commentary on Valid Cognition and Dialectics Analysis on Pramana by Taknak Gedun Lobsang.

Unlike Shartse and Khilkang College, in this monastery, after the completion of studying the five higher subjects, monks have to attend extra classes for TIKA subjects, there are 22 monks in these extra classes and they will go on to attain their Geshe Kachen Degree. According to the Tibetan calendar, every year on December 4th, monks should offer Sacramental Cakes through Valid Cognition. Likewise, the 2 best of the learned final year students have to accept the vows as Kachen.


Thoesam Norbu ling has 26 Khangtsen (school)

The monks of the above-mentioned monastery must learn the root text entitled The Collected Works of the Holy and Omniscient of Gyalwa Gedun Drupe, Commentary of Pramanavartika of Valid Cognition, The Jewel of Reasoning (a major Commentary on Valid Perception), Illumination of the Path to Freedom, (Being an explanation of the Holy Treasure House of Higher Knowledge) and Rinchen Tang-Wa (Vinaya) by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama. The Ocean of Reasoning, (the detailed Commentary on Valid Perception), The Illumination of the Difficult (being an explanation of the  commentary  known as the "meaning clarified)" by the Khedrupe Gelek Pal Sangpo. Fine explanation, a String of Golden Beads and Illumination of the True Thoughts by Jhe Tsong Kha Pa. The Jewel of the Essence of the Explication and Illumination of the Path to Freedom on Valid Perception by Gyaltsap Darma Rinchen. In addition to these texts, the monks must study each monastery's own Commentaries and Analysis of the above texts.

Monks are not allowed to join the monastery until they have given oral test which is called (Gug-Chung and Gug-Chen) containing 134 pages. Except for foreign monks, who may join before giving these oral tests.  The levels of classes are Due-Ra, Rig-Ding, Rig-Chen, and lastly Tika.  For  higher  education  one has to study 25 years minimum to complete the study of Buddhist Philosophy to get Kachen degree.  The course includes the Art of Healing, Sanskrit, Dialectics, Arts and Crafts, Metaphysics and Religious Philosophy. Of these "five higher subjects", as they are called, the last is the most important and fundamental one. These with their Sanskrit names Prajnaparamita (The Perfection of Wisdom), Madhayamika (The Middle Path, "which Urges the Avoidance of Extremes"), Vinaya (The Cannon of Monastic Discipline), Abhidharma (Metaphysics) and Pramana (Logic in Developing Mental Power and Dialectics). Moreover, this text (The Collected Topics) is studied in many of the monastic universities of the Gelugpa-order in a part of their basic curriculum and Tika class.

According to the Tibetan calendar, every year on January 2nd and 3rd, 2 RIGCHEN Class monks have to accept the vows as Kachen, by giving oral tests and definitions after the completion of the study of Buddhist Philosophy. This happens in front of scholars of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and the position holder will be awarded a prize. Soon after they enter into Maha Tantric College. Moreover, they have to study Classical Grammar like Sum-Tak, Arts of Music, and Arts and Crafts etc. The levels of the courses are Kachen, Dung rampa, Tsoksokpa etc.



His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen, established Tashi Lhunpo Maha Tantric College in the year 1615. The Shrine was built with 16 pillars and storey high statues of the Vajra Terrifier and other meditational deities and almost all the protectors, which are made of Lima (a mixture of gold and bronze). There is a storey high Chorten (loaded with ritual objects) made of silver and containing the body of tantric master Kunchok Gyaltsen.


In Tantric College, monks come from all the other three colleges of the monastery for tantric studies after attaining degree like Kachen, Tsoksakpa, Dungrampa and so on. To carry on the performance of Tantric practices and rituals there are some mantra for example Secret Collection, Higher Bliss, and Frightener (Sang Dhay Jig Sum), Chak-Dor Jung-Dhul, Tsechok, Kun-Rig.


Four different Practices are:


a) Nine days of intensive prayer to the nine deities of AMITAYUS through Mandala   (cloth painting)

b) Eleven days of intensive prayer to BUKUM-MAHA-PRANA through Mandala (cloth painting)

c) Offering to VAJRA BIDHARNA through Mandala (cloth painting)



a) Seven days of intensive prayer to VAJRA DHARA for driving out bad spirits.



a) Eleven days of intensive prayer to BUDDHA DURGATHI PARISHODHA VAIROCHANNA through Mandala (sand mandala)



a) Intensive prayer to KALACHAKRA through Mandala (sand mandala)

b) Intensive prayer to GUYASAMAJA through Mandala (sand mandala)

c) Intensive prayer to CHAKRA SAMBHAVA through Mandala (sand mandala)

d) Intensive prayer to VAJRA BHAIRAVAYA through Mandala (sand mandala)


The tantra course is incomplete without the knowledge of the following courses. So one has to go hand in hand with these subjects while studying the four classes of Tantra. The courses are

1. An implementation and hand gesture of a deities.

2. The method of making Torma-cake offering to the dieties and divinities

3. The drawing of lines of the complete celestial mansion or abode of a principal deity surrounded by his or her retinue, representing the paths and fruits of that particulars cycle of practices. Often Mandalas may by either painted on a scroll, carved on wood or drawn with colored sand

4. Arts of monastic music and melodic voice.


Besides these monks from Tashi Lhunpo tantric college perform Gutor Gharcham (Lama Dance) every year for which intensive prayer is held for eight days from 22nd December to 29th December, according to the Tibetan calendar.


The Ngakchen (tantric master) gives a commentary on a tantric deity belonging to the root tantra of the highest class of tantric practices, the main text of Secret Mantra, the Generation and Completion Stages. Monks of Maha Tantric College hold a debate on the topic of the generation and completion stages. 37 Tantric Masters till Ngakchen Palden Sherab Singhe succeeded Jho Zong Lobsang Tenpai Gyaltsen.



His Holiness the 6th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Palden Yeshi, established the Thukor Monastery in the year 1762.  On March 22nd every year, the monks offer the practice of Kalachakra (a tantric deity belonging to the highest class of Tantra). Thukor Lopon (a spiritual master who takes care of his disciple's material needs) will give teachings on the Kalachakra. There are around 25 monks in this college.



His Holiness the 7th Panchen Lama, Tenpai Nyima, established Tse Gonkhang (Guardian House). Here the monks offers practices the followings; feasts to meditational deities like Kei-Dor, Chak-Dor Khorchen, Jig-Jhe-Lha-Chu-Sum, Namgyal-Ma etc. Moreover, the monks perform monks dance for three days every year after summer retreat, for which intensive prayer is held for 4 days from August 3rd to August 6th, according to the Tibetan calendar. 10 tantric masters up to Kachen Lobsang Dhamchoe succeeded Kachen Gelek Gyaltsen.



Tashi Lhunpo Monastery has many statues, Scriptures and images etc. One can see a storey high statue of Gyalwa Gedun Drupe, the founder of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.

Moreover, the relics of the fourteen Abbots who have succeeded the founder of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, namely; 1) Panchen Sangpo Tashi, 2) Panchen Lungrig Gyatso, 3) Panchen Yeshi Tsemo, 4) Panchen Gedun Gyatso, 5) Lhatsun Lobsang Tenpai Nyima, 6) Shantipa Lodoe Gyaltsen, 7) Panchen Dhonyoe Gyaltsen, 8) Panchen Lodro Lheksang, 9) Ne- Neyingpa Choe-Kyi Gyaltsen, 10) Panchen Choephel Gyatso, 11) Panchen Sonam Gyaltsen, 12) Panchen Samdup Palsang, 13) Panchen Dhamchoe Yarphel, 14) Panchen Lhawang Lodro are buried in a storey high silver made Chorten (receptacle for offering) called Khangshar with maintain of treasure in it.


Likewise, the relics of their subsequent reincarnations, namely: 1) Lobsang Yeshi, 2) Palden Yeshi, 3) Tenpai Nyima, 4) Tenpai Wangchuk, 5) Thupten Choekyi Nyima, 6) Choekyi Gyaltsen are interred in the six storied high chortens (Stupa) made of silver in each offering room called Kyil, Nup, kelsang Zsiphar, Zamling Zeigen, Csisum Zaigen. Zcisum Namgyal respectively. On the top of that one can also see the statue of Gyalwa Jampa which is 26 and ½ meters high.


There is a magnificent statue called Gatong Jampa, which is believed to have been made during Buddha Woesung's life. Likewise, a marvelous statue called Lho Dak Chak Dor made by Lho – Dhak Drupe Chen Namkhen Gyaltsen, the tutor of Jhe Tsong kha Pa (the founder of reformist Ge- Lug Pa order). There are others like Ngur – Mig Dolma, Tingey Dolma and Yurlo Dolma, which is believed to be gifted with the power of speech. A Chorten embedded with gold, silver and many other treasures can be seen. There are as many as 21,111 statues at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.


Besides the statue and the images, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery has 1400 volumes of Kagyur scripture (the revealed text) and the collected works of the holy and omniscience one that are written in pure gold. Its shrine room is filled with more than 100,000 volumes, and has many inscriptions carved into wood blocks by renowned scholars.


There are nine kinds of Thanka (painted on scroll) available for public viewing during religious festivals. These are so enormous in size that they can cover nine stories and are displayed on 14th, 15th and 16th of May every year, according to the Tibetan calendar.


Tashi Lhunpo Monastery's castles are fine reminders of the past glory. They include Phodang Gyaltsen Thonpo (Palace) where His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His holiness the Panchen Lama stay, Kunsig Palace, dechen Palace, Kelsang Palace (North and South), Kyi Kyi Naga and Kun Kyab Ling Palace. There are 78 different kinds of Lhakhang (Temple).



A line of fourteen abbots has succeeded the founder of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, Gyalwa Gedun Drup. Most of these abbots were also known by the title 'Panchen" because of their great learning but none of these abbots were connected to the lineage of the Panchen Lama.


The Abbots were:

  1. Panchen Sangpo Tashi
  2. Panchin Lungrig Gyatso
  3. Panchen Yeshe Tsemo
  4. Panchen Gedun Gyatso
  5. Lhatsun Lobsang Tenpai Nyima
  6. Shantipa Lodro Gyaltsen
  7. Panchen Dhonyo Gyaltsen
  8. Panchen Lodro Leksang
  9. Ne-Neyinpa Choekyi Gyaltsen
  10. Panchen Sonam Gyatso
  11. Panchen Sonam Gyatso
  12. Panchen Samdup Pelsang
  13. Panchen Dhamchoe Yarphel
  14. Panchen Lhawang Lodro



At the time when His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Lama, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen, was in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, there were more than 3,000 monks. By 1959, the number of monks inside the monastery had increased to 5,000 and taking into account the monks outside Tibet, the monastery at that time comprised of 7,000 monks. Out of that number, only 300 monks were able to escape into exile in India.

Nowadays, only 400-500 monks remain in the monastery, as the rest of the monks went through unprecedented hardship including arrest and imprisonment, expulsion from the monastery etc during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Before the Chinese invasion of Tibet, it was an integrated society where, about 7,000 monks from Tibet, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia and even from China lived in harmony.



It is estimated that out of seven, six of the offering rooms have been destroyed, including a stupa containing relics of His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama the founder of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, Gyalwa Gedun Drupe and His Holiness the Panchen Lamas, almost all the prayer books or scriptures written in Gold, all the wood block engravings, 70% of the statues and images, Monastries like Shartse Samten Ling, Thoesam Norbu Ling, Thukhor (Kalachakra), Tsegon, Shooe Gonkhang, Namgyal Phodhang, 43 House of God (Lhakhang), 60% of the rooms of the Arhats were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, which was imposed on Tibet from the year 1966 to 1980. In 1982, His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama, Choekyi Gyaltsen, took the main responsibility of the re-construction of the buildings in the monasteries in Tibet, which were destroyed by the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution. At the same time, His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama Choekyi Gyaltsen re-constructed Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.



The lineage of His Holiness the Panchen Lama is the emanation of AMITABHA (Boundless Light in English and Woe Pak Mie in Tibetan). The institution of His holiness the Panchen Lama is unique, not because of His Holiness the Panchen Lama are second in importance only to his holiness the Dalai Lama in Gelugpa tradition, but of extra ordinary relation between the two. Each Lama in their life time is not only involved in the search for the other's reincarnation, but also assumes the role, firstly as the disciple and later in life as the master of the other.


Here are lives of Panchen Lama:



Born in 1385, he received his monastic education at Sakya monastery. At eighteen, he met Jhe Tsonga Pa and became one of his foremost disciples. He became the most learned of the learned ones. He founded the Gyaltse Palkhor choeten Monastery. At forty nine, he became the Gaden Tripa (throne holder of Gelugpa) He wrote nine volumes on Sutras and Tantras. He passed away in 1438.


SONAM CHOKLANG (2nd Panchen Lama)

Born in 1439, he studied under masters such as Lodroe Bepa and others and became a learned scholar. He successfully passed the examination at Sangphu monastery. He founded the Choekhor Uding nunnery in the interior of Wentsa, he passed away in 1504.



Born in 1505, he became the foremost disciple of Mahasiddha Cho Dorjee and received from him the miraculously created book of the Kadampa. Tib: Bka Gdams sprul Pai Glegs Bam). He founded the Choekyi Phodrang Monastery at Wentsa. At 39, he traveled to Drepung Monastery and there received the full ordination from the 2nd Dalai Lama Gedun Gyatso. He achieved the highest level of mystic's power and possessed many special qualities. He passed away in 1564.



Born in 1570, he was recognized as the reincarnation of 3rd Panchen Lama by Khedrub Sangye Yeshe, an immediate disciple of Lobsang Dhondup. Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen received hi ordination from Khedrup Sengye Yeshe at the age of 13. At seventeen he traveled to Tashi Lhunpo and joined the monastery for his studies. At twenty two he received full ordination from Panchen Dhamchoe Yarphel. Nine years later at the age of thirty one he became the Abbot of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.

In 1604, he traveled to Drepung Monastery and gave special instructions on Sutra and Tantras to His holiness the 4th Dalai Lama.  He also gave full ordination to him. In 1620, he acted as mediator in the war between the ruler of Tsang and the Mongols. After passing away the 4th Dalai Lama in 1616, Panchen Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen undertook the search for the reincarnation of the 4th Dalai Lama. In 1622, he declared the boy born in Chonggye (10 1617) as the 5th Dalai Lama or the reincarnation of the 4th Dalai Lama. He took responsible for the "Hair cutting ceremony" of the boy and gave him the name Lobsang Gyatso. He also gave him the novice and full ordination, respectively on 1625 and in 1638. He also taught him a vast number of Sutras and Tantras. The th dalai Lama who later became a ruler of Tibet, in gratitude conferred to his teacher the mastery over Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and the title of "Panchen". It was from this that the lineage of Panchen Lama became the head of Tashi Lhunpo monastery.

Panchen Choekyi Gyaltsen was also the abbot of Shalu monastery for twenty years. He enjoyed much respect from the people of all sects; and for gelupa, he was no less than Tsong Kha Pa himself. He wrote five volumes on Sutras and Tantras. Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen continued to be the abbot of Tashi Lhunpo monastery till his death at the age of ninety two. He passed away at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in 1662.


LOBSANG YESHI (5th Panchen Lama)

He was born in 1663 and was recognized as the reincarnation of 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen by 5th Dalai Lama. At eight he received the novice ordination and certain amount of spiritual instruction from the 5th Dalai Lama. In 1697 he gave the 6th Dalai Lama the novice ordination and gave him the name Rinchen Tseyang Gyatso. He also gave him many special religious instructions. In 1713, he received from the Manchu Emperor Kangxi the title of 'Panchen Erdini", and golden seal.  In 1720, he travelled to Lhasa, where the 7th Dalai Lama Kelsang Gyatso had just arrived at Potala Palace. Panchen Lobsang Yeshi gave him the Upaseka ordination and the additional name of "Lobsang" hence Lobsang Kelsang Gyatso is the full name of 7th Dalai Lama.   The Panchen Lama followed this with many special instructions on the sutras and tantras. He officiated the ceremony where the Dalai Lama received his full ordination. The Dalai Lama had great respect for him. The Panchen Lama studied and practiced a vasr number of scriptures and mastered them. The Manchu Emperor Kangxi invited him to China, but he refused the invitation on the ground the he was vulnerable to smallpox and also that he was too old to undertake such a journey. He wrote four volumes of books on sutra and tantras etc. He was head of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery for sixty seven years and passed away there in 1737.


PALDEN YESHI (6th Panchen Lama)

He was born in Tashi Tse in the Shang District of Tsang in 1738. The 7th Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso recognized him as the reincarnation of the 5th Panchen Lama Lobsang Yeshi.  He received his novice ordination with religious instructions from the 7th Dalai Lama.  In 1761 Panchen Lama declared the reincarnation of 7th Dalai Lama at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and then took in charge of enthronement ceremony of the 8th Dalai Lama at Lhasa and also giving a name Jetsun Lobsang Tenpai Wangchuk Jamphel Gyatso, he also gave Upaseka ordination in 1765 and 1777 respectively.  From time to time His Holiness the 8th Dalai Lama received many special instructions on religious text from Panchen Lama. Following the invitation from the Manchu Emperor Quianlang, Panchen Lama traveled to China in 1779 and gave the emperor many teachings and instructions. The emperor appointed him as his spiritual preceptor, and showed him much respect. Many honors were also granted to him. In 1780 he was contracted smallpox and passed away.


TENPAI NYIMA (7th Panchen Lama)

He was born in Panam in Tsang at 1782. The 8th Dalai Lama recognized him as the reincarnation of the Panchen Palden Yeshi. In 1784 The Dalai Lama gave him the Upaseka ordination and named him Lobsang Palden Tenpai Nyima. In 1789 Tenpai Nyima received his novice ordination from the 8th Dalai Lama and the full ordination in 1801.

In 1808 Panchen Tenpai Nyima performed the "hair cutting ceremony" of the 9th Dalai Lama; he also gave him upaseka ordination and named him Lobsang Tenpai Jungne Lungtok Gyatso. In 1812, he gave the Dalai Lama the novice ordination.

In 1822, he performed the "hair cutting ceremony" of the 10th Dalai Lama and also gave him the upaseka ordination and named him Ngawang Lobsang Jamphel Tsultrim Gyatso. He also gave him the novice ordination. In 1833, he gave 10th Dalai Lama his full ordination and instructions on sutras and tantras.

In 1841, he performed the "hair cutting ceremony" of the 11th Dalai Lama and named him Ngawang Kelsang Tenpai Dronme Khedup Gyatso.  In 1844 he took the office of Si-kyong (interim ruler of Tibet) for nine months. In those nine months he gave Dalai Lama many teachings. In 1846, he gave the Dalai Lama the novice ordination. He had great respect for his spiritual master, the 8th Dalai Lama Jamphel Gyatso. He wrote three volumes on sutras and tantras. In 1854 at the age of seventy three he passed away at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.



He was born in Thobgyal, Tsang province in Tibet in 1855.  In 1860 he received his novice ordination from Reting Ngawang Yeshi.  At twenty one, he received from Vinaya holder Jampa Dhamchoe the full ordination of the Panchen lineage; and at twenty three, he received full ordination from Phurchung Lobsang Tsutrim Jamphel Gyatso.  He took charge of Tashi Lhunpo monastery from 1860 to 1882. He wrote three volumes on sutras and tantras. He passed away at his birth place Tsang Thobgyal at the age of twenty eight in 1882.


CHOEKYI NYIMA (9TH Panchen Lama)

Panchen Choekyi Nyima was born at Dagpo District, south eastern Tibet in 1883. In 1888 he received his novice ordination from the 13th Dalai Lama and named him Thupten Choekyi Nyima. In 1902 he received hi full novice ordination from 13th Dalai Lama. In 1906 he traveled to India on an official invitation from than Government of India. In 1914 he built a gigantic statue of Maitreya Buddha at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.

In 1923 he left for China where he gave nine separate Kalachakra initiations and many other religious teachings.  

While making search for the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, 9th Panchen Lama attempted to fulfill his traditional responsible by giving the search committee the list of three candidates he had selected, and also gave them important instructions.

Choekyi Nyima always wanted to return to Tashi Lhunpo monastery, and even than Tibetan Government did not want 9th Panchen Lama to remain in China.  However, negotiation for his return always floundered on the question of the escort of Chinese soldiers that the Panchen Lama did not wanted to accompany him at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and back to Tibet. Finally when agreement was reached in 1937 and the Panchen Lama prepared to return to Central Tibet, but he passed away on his route at Kye-Gu Dhondup Ling Monastery in eastern Tibet at the age of Fifty five.


CHOEKYI GYALTSEN (10th Panchen Lama)

10th Panchen Lama was born in Amdo in 1938 and recognized as the Panchen's reincarnation by Alak Lakho Rinpoche. In 1951, he was recognized by the 14th Dalai Lama as the 10th Panchen Lama. In 1952, he traveled to Lhasa and there met the 14th Dalai Lama. He then traveled to Tashi Lhunpo monastery. In 1954, with His Holiness the Dalai Lama traveled to China to attend China's National People's Congress. There His Holiness the Panchen Lama was appointed as member of the conference's working committee and a high level member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conferences. In 1956 he became the Vice Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet autonomous region, Chair man being His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. On same year His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama both visit India on ceremony on 2500 year Buddha's birth.

He has maintained a certain level of good relation with the Chinese and in fact took great initiatives to promote the welfare of the Tibetan people.

Seeing that Communist Chinese were going against the fundamental policy of "No racial discrimination" and "Freedom to practice religion" that they were developing a well planned strategy to destroy Tibetan culture, he raised his voice against this issue and demanded for better policy functioning on Tibetan People. He wrote down his opinion in a 70,000 Character petition and submitted it to the Central Government of the People's Republic of China. The Chinese did not regard the Panchen's statement as sincere and he was accused of anti- Chinese and counter- revolutionary activities.

In 1964, at a public meeting in Lhasa he was removed from all positions of the authority he had been holding. He was openly criticised and humiliated at a meeting. Later he was taken to China. In 1966, he was subjected to many "struggles" in Beijing in the national Institute of Minorities, followed by rigorous imprisonment for nine years and eight months. He was released from the prison in year 1975.

In 1979, he was appointed the Deputy Chairman of the National People's politics Consultative Committee, and also the Deputy Chairman of National People's Congress. He traveled far and wide in the regions in Kham and Amdo and advised the Tibetans there to keep a good relation with the Chinese. He also repeatedly and strongly advised them to alive the spirit to "Be a Tibetan" and "Be for the Tibetan cause". Speaking to the gathering during the Monlam festival in Lhasa in 1985 His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama said, "His Holiness the Dalai Lama and I are spiritual friends. There are no differences between us but some people are trying to create discord between us. This will not succeed. Despite the fact that the Communist Chinese were cruel and opposed him most of the time, he dauntlessly carried out his pro-Tibetan activities until his last breath. 

At Tashi Lhunpo Monastery he built a memorial Stupa to represent all the silver mausoleums of the past Panchen Lamas, destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. He himself consecrated those stupa and presided over its inaugural ceremony at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.  It was soon after this that the suddenly passed away on January 28, 1989 at the monastery itself. He has been one of the most courageous critics in Tibet's history during Mao's regime.






After the occupation of Tibet by People's Republic of China in 1959, and the destruction caused by the Cultural Revolution, only 400-500 monks remain in the monastery. 300 monks made the journey to India following His Holiness the Dalai Lama into exile, and in 1972, under His guidance, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was established in Bylakuppe, Karnataka State, in South India. Here around 350 monks continue to follow the same tradition and principles in exile as in their monastery in Tibet.


During the 1960s, many senior Lams and monks left Tibet because of the difficulties they faced in practicing Buddhism under the Chinese occupation. Many of them helped to re-establish monasteries in India, Bhutan and Nepal. The 10th Panchen Lama was not able to leave Tibet, and as a result many of the senior lamas from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery remained inside Tibet. Without the guidance of senior lamas, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery has been at a disadvantage


1. To maintain Peace and Harmony

The Monastery Endeavour's to maintain peace and harmony both within individuals and with the world at large, and to protect the environment, taking into consideration the feelings of others, and following the example of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama.


2. To be good human beings

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery Endeavour's to provide a healthy environment for the monks to develop into strong human beings with compassion, a sense of sacrifice, honesty and a deep respect for all beings.


3. To promote a sense of responsibility and service

Each monk in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is encouraged to develop as a responsible and caring member of the monastic community itself and the world at large, acknowledge that the earth is home and all people members of one family.




Patrons of the monastery: His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama.



The Abbot: The Abbot is the supreme head of the monastic community. Abbots are selected from and elected by the administrative monks of the Tashi Lhunpo. The final appointment is made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Abbot is the president of the governing body and also over all religious and administrative head of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.


List of abbots:

  1. Kachen Yeshi Dhondup
  2. Kachen Lobsang Zodpa
  3. Kachen Lobsang Tsultrim
  4. Kachen Lobzang Tsetan (Present abbot)


General Secretary: The General Secretary of the monastery is elected by the monks in monasteries annual meeting. The monks above RIGCHEN classes had to be necessarily attend the annual meeting for more consultation of the monastic activities of the year. The term of the General Secretary is three years.  The General Secretary assists the President in administrative and academic matters. He will be the vice president of the monastery and also responsible for the monastery's relationship with external affairs.


Secretaries: The administrators or CHAZOE. We have three more secretaries to handle every matter of the monastery, which includes feeding of the monks, education, day to day activities, office handling, accounting etc. These three secretaries are also elected by the monks above Rigchen Class during annual meeting and there term as an administrator is three years. They are also a general body member of the monastery.


GAYKOE: Gaykoe or a disciplinarian is selected from and elected by the monks of during annual General Body meeting. His term as disciplinarian is only for a year.  Election of the Gaykoe is done before annual retreat of all the monks and his successor will take charge after Gayi (Annual Picnic after the annual retreat).  He has to maintain the law and order of the monastery by supervising after all the monks and also over all disciplines.


Chabri: The Chabri assists the Geykoe Lama in internal affairs and especially to maintain discipline in the monastery. His term is same as Gaykoe Lama.



Admission is granted to those who wish to be a monk and to study Buddhism. There is no discrimination of caste and creed. Food and accommodation are offered free of charge.  Those who wish to be admitted to the monastery as monks must refer to a senior monk in the monastery as their teacher and become his disciple. Each student must approach the Abbot or any senior Lama's for the hair cutting ceremony and to take the monastic oath, and be admitted to the monastery. Importantly, after admission one must abide the rules and regulations of the monastery.

As in Tibet, monks from Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan are admitted, all as boarders, here in India, we also have monks from Tibet and Himalayan regions of India.



The monks are offered three meals during the day. Breakfast consists of barley flour (Tsampa) and Tibetan butter tea, and occasionally the monastery's special bread. Lunch and dinner include rice, bread, vegetables and egg, with fruit sometimes during lunch. Monastery never supplies meat for the monks. The cost per day to feed one monk is Indian Rs 35/- (costing roughly Indian national Rupees 12000.00 per day to feed the whole monastic community of 325 monks).



Tashi Lhunpo School has proved to be of great benefit to the entire monks of the monastery and to those who enroll in the future. More than two hundred students now study in the school, which has classes from Lower KG to class VIII. The students are given the opportunity to study Tibetan, English, Mathematics, Social Studies and General Science as well as Chinese language. School has one Principal and 10 teachers. With the support from Tashi Lhunpo UK Trust and Tibet Relief Fund, UK Tashi Lhunpo school's two storey building was built.



05:00               Rising Bell                                     

06:00               Morning Prayers & Breakfast

07:30-08:00     Breaks                                           

08:00-09:00     Religious Debate                                

09:00               Morning Assembly                         

09:15-10:00     1st Period                                        

10:00-10:45     2nd Period                                       

10:45-11:15     Breaks                                             

11:15-11:55     3rd Period                                         

12:00               Lunch

13:30-14:15     4th Period

14:15-15:00     5th Period

15:00-16:30     Evening Prayers and Tea

16:30-17:00     Self Study Time

17:00-18:00      Dharma Class

18:00                Dinner

18:30-21:00      Religious Debate

18:30-21:00      Religious Debate

23:00                 Lights Off


Examinations are held three times a year, with twenty per cent oral and eighty per cent written content.



It is necessary to study more then 16 years to complete the course and to obtain higher degree in Buddhist religious education. The course includes the arts of healing, dialectics, Sanskrit, arts and crafts, metaphysics and the Philosophy of religion. They are divided into five branches, known by their Sanskrit names of Prajnaparamita-The perfection of Wisdom (6 years); Madhayamika-the Middle Path, which urges the avoidance of extremes (2years); Vinaya-the Canon of Monastic Discipline (2 years); Abhidharma-Metaphysics (2years) and Pramana- Logic, developing mental powers and dialectics (4 years).

Written and oral examinations are held every year, and the final debate examination twice a year in the 3rd and 12th months of the Tibetan Calendar, on a date set by the Examination Committee. The monks gather in front of the Temple in the presence of the Khenpo (Abbot), Kachen Choera, the General Secretary and Gekoe Lama. Topics to be debated are written on pieces of paper which are picked at random by each candidate, who will debate for and against the particular topic.



Following the completion of their Higher Studies at this monastery, one has to join International Gelugpa examination, for which monks has to study complete six years. Every year there is examination on the basis courses they were given. After completing the final year one will attain the degree of Geshe Lharampa, known in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery as Kachen. This is the highest degree one can obtain through learning Buddhist sutra.




Tashi Lhunpo Maha Tantric College was founded in Tibet in 1615 by His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama. The College became famouse throughout Tibet for the quality of its teaching. In 1983, the Tantric College was re-established in the monastery in Bylakuppe.

Tantra is a life-long study, begun after the student has achieved the Kachen qualification. The course covers Action Tantra, Performance Tantra, Yoga Tantra and Highest Yoga Tantra, as well as the study of the mudras or hand gestures of the deities; making of torma-cake offerings; the drawing of mandalas in paint, in sand or carved in wood, and the art of music and melodic voice. Each year the monks also perform the Gyutor Garcham (Lama Dance) for the last eight days of the Tibetan year.



 The Monastery Library was established in 1983, and is instrumental in preserving Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy. A Library Committee has been established, and the monks have free access to books and other resources. However, because of the lack of a suitable library building, this access is necessarily restricted, and several of the monastery's precious scriptures are in danger of being damaged due to poor storage conditions. A new, purpose-built library is being planned, for which a fund raising appeal has been started by the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust. For details, please see the website at www.tashi-lhunpo.org.uk



The Dispensary offers free treatment to the monks, lay people and anyone who visits from the local area. Opened in 1998, the Dispensary is staffed by a monk trained as a nurse and some times volunteer nurse from Switzerland. All the minor treatments were done here at clinic. Every Sunday there is a visit of Doctor from 2 pm to 5 pm. For major illness monks were refer to Hospitals in Mysore.  When further financial support is available, the monastery hopes to extend the services offered, both to the monks and to the local people.



Shi Kham Kun Kyap (Over Spread Paradise) Incense is made from 48 medical herbs gathered in Tibet and the Himalayas. The method of preparation is the same as the ancient technique followed in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet. Shi Kham Kun Kyab incense is recommended for soothing the nerves, providing a sense of security to aid peaceful and perfect meditation, a pleasant smell and to improve the clarity of vision of the mind and to provide pleasant smell is also available is Himalaya Healing Incense,  which is effective for mild altitude sickness, headaches and other problems and above all for easing mental stress and strain and Mount Everest Incense prepared from 62 medical herbs to provide the serenity needed for a peaceful and perfect meditation. The incense may be purchased both in the monastery and through the website.


GEDUN CHOEKYI NYIMA (11th Panchen Lama)

When the Tibetan administration learnt of His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama's death, immediate actions were begun for the search of his reincarnation. Around thirty names of possible reincarnation were received from both within and outside Tibet. In 1991 on the third day of the Iron sheep year, a divination by His Holiness the Dalai Lama revealed that the Panchen Lama's reincarnation had been born in Tibet.

From 1991 His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama made repeated appeals to the Chinese authorities to be permitted to play some part in the search for the reincarnation. In October 1995 the Dalai Lama wrote in a letter to Premier Jiang Zemin, "I had a responsibility to honour and uphold the unique relationship between the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. For example, in my own case, I am personally greatly indebted to the 9th Panchen Lama, who took special interest and responsible in the search of the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama."

On August 11, 1991, a divination revealed that a certain child in Tibet widely thought to be the Panchen Lama was not the authentic reincarnation. In 1993, on the third day of the Tibetan Water Bird year, another divination was performed which indicated that it was not the proper time to commence and finalise the recognition process.

A petition dated July 17, 1993 was received through official channel via Beijing from Chadrel Rinpoche, head of the Chinese appointed Search Committee from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. He mentioned that in connection with the search for the reincarnation, two visits had already been made to observe signs in the sacred Lake of Lhamoe Lhatso and one to Rinpung Chamsring Yung Tso in addition to certain other religious investigations. These indicated that 11th Panchen Lama had already been born and that the  search for the reincarnation should be conducted in a direction to the east of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and among children born in the Tibetan calendar year of Snake or Horse or Sheep.  

In 1994, on the third day of the Tibetan Wood-Dog year, another divination was performed to establish whether it was the proper time to commence and finalise the recognition process. The indication was negative.

In 1994, on the tenth day of the first month of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar, the Nechung Oracle proclaimed, "my teacher, the meaningful to behold, is continuing to seek the reincarnation. If all Tibetan are firmly united in solidarity, an unmistaken reincarnation will definitely be found soon in Tibet". This prophecy was confirmed on the same day by the Tsangpa Oracle again prophesied, "the reincarnation has been born in Tibet and since His Holiness is investigating the matter there is no need for concern".

On December 3, 1994 a divination was performed to establish whether it was the right time to begin and finalise the recognition process. This time the result was affirmative.

In January 1995, during a Kalachakra Teaching at Mungod in South India, the Dalai Lama commenced the recognition process. A divination was performed which revealed that, among the potential candidates, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, son of Konchok Phuntsok and Dechen Choedon of Lhari District in Nagchu, north of Lhasa, was an extremely fair candidate for the reincarnation of Pachen Rinpoche.

On January 23, 1995, in Dharamsala, Northern India, elaborate offering were made before exalted objects like the Kyirong Jowo (a special image of Buddha brought from Tibet) and the Thangka of Palden Lhamo (the female protector of Tibet). Special Prayers were also performed invoking names of the previous Panchen Lama.

A divination was then performed to determine whether the selected child, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, was the unmistakable reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. The divination confirmed this.

To confirm the result of the previous divination a second divination was performed. Again it was revealed that the true reincarnation had been born.

Later in 1995, early on the thirteenth day of the third Tibetan month, the Nechung Oracle proclaimed that, "there is no need for me, the formless, to do or say anything more. My teacher, the meaningful to behold, has already investigation the matter through the mind of the three secrets"

A final divination was performed on May 13, 1995, to determine whether it was appropriate to declare the recognition of the Panchen Lama on the fifteenth day of the third month (corresponding to May 13, 1995) or to postpone it. The divination indicated that it would be better to declare it on the fifteenth as proposed.

Thus, on the most auspicious day when Buddha first gave the Kalachakra Teaching, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama officially proclaimed six years-old Gedun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, the second highest spiritual leader of Tibet. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gave him the name of "Tenzin Gedun Yeshe Thrinlay Phuntsok Pal Sangpo"

Tenzin Gedun Yeshe Thrinlay Phuntsok Pal Sangpo, son of Konchok Phuntsok and Dechen Choedon, was born on April 25, 1989 in Lhari Districts of Nagchu, Tibet. Bright and intelligent, he is gifted with a sharp mind. His demeanor is composed and serious and his speech is frank and forthright. At a very early age when he was able to speak he said, "I am the Panchen, my monastery is Tashi Lhunpo. I sit on a high throne."

However, like his fellow Tibetans, he has become a victim of China's brutality. To this day the whereabouts and well being of Gedun Choekyi Nyima is unknown. He is twenty years old now.


Disappearance of Gedun Choekyi Nyima

It is now more than fourteen years since 14 May 1995 the day Dalai Lama officially proclaimed Gedun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama. Within days of announcement, on May 17 1995, the six year-old boy and his parents disappeared from their home, reportedly taken into Chinese police custody.

Tibetan spiritual traditions required that the Panchen Lama receive the care and instruction at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery for his well being and proper religious upbringing. However, Gedun Choekyi Nyima continues to be kept under detention in condition of absolute secrecy.

Despite repeated appeal from the Tibetan government-in-exile and other concerned governments and international bodies, China has refused to provide information of Gedun Choekyi Nyima's whereabouts or to allow an independent observe to see him and his parents and confirm that they are well. In fact, for the first 12 months Chinese authorities completely denied his detention.

It was not until May 28, 1996 that China finally admitted they were holding the young boy and his parents. The news came in response to a prolonged scrutiny by the UN committee for the rights of the child, the monitoring body of the UN in Geneva, Mr. Wu Jianmin, said, "He has been put under protection of the government at the request of his parents.

According to Mr. Jianmin, "the boy was at risk of being kidnapped by separatists and his security had been threatened". Thus, despite their repudiation of the Dalai Lama's authority in recognizing the Panchen Lama and their refusal to acknowledge nonetheless justified their detention of the child on the basis of "concern". Why the Chinese authorities would go to such lengths to provide 'security' for a child who they considered in no way extraordinary is questionable. The Chinese leadership understands that the six million Tibetan people including Buddhists all over the world do not recognise any other reincarnation of Panchen Lama except Gedun Choekyi Nyima recognized by the Dalai Lama.


China's Illegitimate Appointment of 'Panchen Lama'

Denouncing the Dalai Lama's proclamation as illegitimate and ignoring historical convention relating to the recognition of reincarnation, on November 29, 1995 the Chinese authorities drew lots from a golden urn to select their own 'Panchen Lama'. Six year-old Gyaltsen Norbu was selected and subsequently enthroned on December 8, 1995 sparking off massive protests all over Tibet. According to sources from Beijing, Gyaltsen Norbu has only been taken on occasional brief visits to Tibet. "He received a very mixed reception" said one source, "and now they think it is better to keep him here (Beijing)

While China has long denounced Tibetan Buddhism and its reincarnation system as "feudal" and "reactionary", the atheist regime seems more than willing to drop their virulent anti-religious stance in the case of the Panchen Lama. China has suppressed all practices to undertake search for reincarnations. As a result, most of the monasteries in Tibet have been left without replacements for their most important religious figures.

However, in the case of Panchen Lama, Communist Party Leaders authorised the quest for the reincarnation with an intention to keep firm control over the religious affairs of the subjugated Tibetan people. By appointing their choice of Panchen Lama, China has politicised the purely religious matter. China's move to appoint a new Panchen Lama has revealed its wishes to consolidate and extend its hold over the religious and temporal affairs of the Tibetans.



China announced that the Dalai Lama's action "will meet with strong opposition from people of the Tibetan Buddhism circles".  Yet they seemed to have little faith in their own words. Soon after the Dalai Lama's announcement, Chinese military were sent into Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, and series of arrest were carried out in connection with the reincarnation issue.

Today in monasteries through out Tibet, Chinese work-teams force monks and nuns to denounce the Panchen Lama chosen by Dalai Lama and forbidden his photograph Tibetans who displays their loyalty to Gedun Choekyi Nyima have been expelled from monastery, arrested and imprisoned. China is doing its best to ensure that the world to forget the existence of this special boy.

In September 1995, the working committee arbitrary detention referred 48 cases of detention for their involvement in Panchen Lama issue, including Chadrel Rinpoche, to the PRC. The reply, when finally received in May 1996, claimed that China had "scrupulously adhered to the sentiments of the Tibetan people and the religious rites of Tibetan Buddhism in their choice of Panchen Lama".

Chadrel Rinpoche, then abbot of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of Panchen Lama was appointed head of China's search committee for the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in August 1989. He angered Chinese authorities in 1995 when he rejected China's plan to choose their own Panchen Lama and, following the Dalai Lama's proclamation of the reincarnate on 14th May 1995. He was reportedly arrested on 17th May and placed under house arrest on suspicion of having communicated with the Dalai Lama in exile regarding the choice of the reincarnation.

With regard to Chadrel Rinpoche, the PRC stated that, after leaving Beijing in mid May 1995 to return to Tibet, he had "suddenly taken ill and had to be hospitalized. Considering the fragile state of his health, the managing committee of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery thought it is best to relieve him of his function as administrator".

On May 22nd, 1996 Chadrel Rinpoche was stripped of his membership of the Sixth "TAR" Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC) and removed from his post as Vice-Chairman because he "went against the fundamental stand of the nation and lost his political post". On 21st April 1997 almost two years after his disappearance, the 58 years old was sentence to six year imprisonment and three years subsequent deprivation of political rights for "plotting to split the motherland" and "leaking state secrets" by the intermediate people's court of Shigatse prefecture in 'Tibet Autonomous Region.'

The whereabouts of Chadrel Rinpoche remained unknown until September 1997 when it was reported that he was being held in a secret compound in Chuandong no. 3 prison in Eastern Sichuan. He is believed to be in a same cell as HU Feng, a liberal communist intellectual imprisoned by Mao Tsetong for over 20 years in complete secrecy. 

Chadrel Rinpoche was reportedly taken to the top-secret compound, which even top prison official are forbidden to enter, in late April or early May of this year. Only three people are allowed insides; two commissars who report directly to the ministry of justice in Beijing and a prisoner who acts as Chadrel Rinpoche's cook and guard and is never permitted to leave. It was reported that Chadrel Rinpoche, always called by a code name, has been denied all outside contact and is not allowed to leave his cell to take exercise. He reportedly commenced a hunger strike and it is unknown whether he has resumed eating. Sources report that his health is very poor.

Two other Tibetans involved in the reincarnation controversy were sentenced on the same day. Champa Chungla, secretary of the search committee, was charged with disclosing state secrets and conspiring to split the country and was sentenced to a four years imprisonment and two years subsequent deprivation of political rights. Samdrup, a businessman, was charged with conspiring to split the country and was sentenced to a two years prison term and deprivation of political right for one year.

On March 15, 1996, four student monks: Damchoe Gyatso (27), Jigme Tendar (29), Phuntsog (25) and Damchoe Kalden (31) were taken from their quarters in Kumbum Monastery and their whereabouts is unknown. They are accused of producing posters and leaflets condemning China's intervention in the search of the new Panchen Lama.

Monks in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery are still not free from harassment by the Chinese officials. Strict vigilance is observed over the entire administration of the Monastery. The present administration of the monastery is controlled by the Shigatse Religious Department. This Department appoints management committee of the Monastery with approval from the Chinese authorities in Shigatse. The general monk of the Monastery has no say in the administration of the Monastery.

Phuntsok the deputy head of the democratic management committee of the Monastery is held in detention since July 1995. Tendor a monk of Gyupa sub monastery, a branch monastery of Tashi Lhunpo was arrested on the night of 13 July 1995. He is now kept incommunicado in Ngari prison in Shigatse. Also Gyatrul Jampa Tenzin, chairman of Monastery Democratic Disciplinary Committee was arrested and taken to prison on the night of 13 July 1995, he was beaten indiscriminately while being taken to the prison. He was kept in a secluded cell where no one was allowed to have contact with him. He is physically permanently disordered as a result of series of torture inflicted on him. Upon his release from prison on 7 March, 1997 he was expelled from the monastery allowing only three hours to pack up his belongings. He now lives in his native town Lhatse.

Personnel secretary of the previous Panchen Lama, Ven. Thupten Kalsang was expelled from monastery after being imprisoned for one year. He lives now in Shigatse area. Many such cases of imprisonment followed by expulsion from the monastery are as follows: 16 year old Lobsang Tsultim, Gendun (25), Sonam Phuntsok (27), Lhakpa Tsering (17), Chime Tsering (28), Tseshon Chungdak (24), Lobsang Gyatso (21), Tsering Gonpo (27), and Gelong (21). They were all expelled from the monastery after levying a fine of 3500 to 4700 Yuan from each individual. They are now no longer allowed to wear the traditional monk's robe.

Unable to live in such a restrained situation, Penpa, personal attendant to the previous Panchen Lama died of heart failure. He could not bear to see such atrocities inflicted upon the monks.

In mid April 1997, Ngachen Lobsang Choedak, the abbot of Sangchen Gyudpa Monastery, a sub-monastery of the larger Tashi Lhunpo, was expelled from the monastery. Upon his expulsion he was kept in the house of the previous Panchen Lama in Shigatse under strict surveillance of the public security bureau where he was denied any contact with the public. Ngagchen Lobsang Chodak, Phuntsok and Thupten Kalsang are all amongst the 8 member Chinese appointed search committee headed by Chadrel Rinpoche.

At present nine-member work team are still in the monastery. They conduct education sessions on Tuesday and Friday and hold classes dividing the monks into four to five different groups from 4 Pm to 7:30 Pm. In this session monks are ordered to oppose the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama reincarnate recognized by the Dalai Lama. Besides this regular session, monks would be suddenly called for a general meeting. Such sessions prove extremely disturbing and damaging for their general religious study.

 More than 80 people have been arrested in connection with the Panchen Lama reincarnation issue. Chinese authorities have also declared curfews in major Tibetan towns.



The Society coordinates the work of many organizations who are working to secure the freedom of the 11th Panchen Lama, and to allow him to undertake Buddhist studies in his monastery in Tibet, as well as to help to inform people about the situation. Information about the campaign to free the Panchen Lama can be found on the monastery's website at


Previously the Search Committee for the 11th Panchen Lama, The central association for H. H. the Panchen Lama exists to promote the interest of Gedun Choekyi Nyima and to coordinate the international campaign for his release. In a wider sense, the Association represents the interest of the Panchen Lama in general, organization political and ceremonial events and helping to bring the issue of the Panchen Lama to the attention of the world



The continuing management of the monastery and the education of the young monks are solely dependent on public support and individual donations. Your financial assistance can be used to sponsor a monk's basic needs and educational costs, or to help bring to reality a number of projects to improve the monastery's buildings and facilities. Please contact the monastery for more information.



Tibetan Settlement, PO Bylakuppe-571104

Mysore District, K.S., South India

Telephone: +91 8223 252601; Telefax: +91 8223 254282

E-mail: info.tashilhunpo@gmail.com

Website: www.tashilhunpo.org



Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust was founded in September 2003. In August 2003, His Holiness the Dalai Lama kindly agreed to become Patron of the Trust, which has five Trustees, including the General Secretary of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. The administrators of the Monastery form the Local Committee of the Trust.

The Trust aims to develop awareness and facilitate access to the unique culture of Tibet, and especially of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, by organizing artistic tours, educational workshops and cultural exchanges. The Trust works to improve the living conditions of the monks inside the Monastery both by assisting with construction and technical projects as well as to help by improving the educational and health facilities. There are also associated projects within linked monasteries and nunneries in Ladakh.

Recent fund-raising projects undertaken within the Monastery include the provision of irrigation equipment, enabling the best use to be made of farmland surrounding the monastery campus, where long-term planting projects can be undertaken, supported by short-term cash crops such as bananas. Money has been raised to pay for the second stage of the new school building, and over 100 students now study in the monastery school. The third stage of the school construction project in under way. Support is also being given for a Library building to house the precious scriptures and texts, which are inaccessible to the monks due to a shortage of suitable storage space. Funding has also been raised to build a school in a remote nunnery in Zangskar.

The Trust organises biennial cultural tours of the Masked Dances and Scared Chant of the Monastery to the UK and Europe, during which the monks carry out workshops in schools and for mixed ages in order to inform audiences about Tibetan monastic culture.



Regd. Charity No. 1100175

The Round House, Netton,

Salisbury, Wiltshire SP 4 6AW.

Website: www.tashi-lhunpo.org.uk

Email: info@tashi-lhunpo.org.uk