A BRIEF HISTORY: DREPUNG LOSELING COLLEGE

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Loseling College Before 1959

In the Lankavatara Sutra, translated from Chinese into Tibetan, the Buddha, after giving Maugalayana (one of his main disciples) a white conch offered to him by the Naga King Anavatapta, speaks:
Conceal this as a treasure in Gogpari Hill [in Tibet]. In the future, this bhikshu, Lotus Scented, will discover this conch and it will become the conch for assembling monks. The guardian of this conch shall assume the physical appearance of a monkey.


As prophesied here, Jamyang Choeje Tashi Palden (1379-1449), who was born near Samye Monastery as the son of a scribe of the chieftain Dakpa Gyaltsen, became one of the four principal disciples of Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419). His enlightened activities spread far and wide and he went to see Je Tsongkhapa at Gaden Monastery to relate his dream indicating the auspiciousness of building a monastery around Denbak, and Je Tsongkhapa said to him, “If you built a monastery it would be grander than this mother monastery [of mine].” Saying this, Tsongkhapa gave him the special conch he had discovered at Gokpari Hill and personally gave him instructions for laying the foundation and the blueprint of the monastery.

Accordingly Jamyang Choeje founded Drepung Monastic University in 1416 AD under the patronage of the ruler Namkha Pel. As the number of monks studying at his monastery grew hugely, he appointed seven of his principal disciples, such as the abbot Palden Senge, to teaching jobs. Hence, this resulted in the birth of seven different colleges within the monastic university. They were Loseling (founded by Lekdenpa), Gomang (by Drung Dakpa Rinchen), Deyang (by Chokchen Janchub Pel), Shagkor (by Lopon Rabchok), Thoesamling or Gyalpa (by Lopon Kunga Rinchen), Dulwa (by Drung Tsondu Dakpa) and Ngagpa (by Lopon Gyaltsen Tsultrim). Of these seven teachers Lekdenpa attracted the most number of disciples and, under the patronage of Neudzongpa, he established his monastic college separately. Since the college produced a vast number of incomparable scholars of literature it became rightly renowned as the Khemang Losel Jewai Ling Dratshang – The Monastic College of a Million Brilliant Scholars.

Until today there have been seventy-nine successive abbots of the Loseling College. They have contributed immensely to the preservation and promotion of Buddhism in general and particularly for the progress of the monastic scholarship and the growth of Loseling College. Especially the seventh abbot, Jamyang Gawae Lodoe, who was known all over for his scholarship, and who wrote commentaries on the Middle Way philosophy and the Perfection of Wisdom texts which were used as the textbooks of the college until they were replaced by new textbooks written by Panchen Sonam Dakpa. There are written records stating that during that time Drepung Monastic University in general received support from the Neuzongpa, and particularly, the Loseling College received funds for the enlargement of its prayer hall and storeroom. So it clearly shows that the Loseling College already had a prayer hall before the seventh abbot.

Panchen Sonam Dakpa (1478-1554) became one of the main disciples of the Second Dalai Lama Gedun Gyatso (1476- 1542). As directed by the Second Dalai Lama, Panchen Sonam Dakpa became the Loseling abbot and taught there for about six years. He took a great responsibility for its academic activities and administrations. For the benefit of all beings, he bestowed upasaka vows to the Third Dalai Lama and named him Sonam Gyatso Pel Sangpo.

Panchen Sonam Dakpa wrote fourteen volumes of treatises on the five major Buddhist texts for the benefit and promotion of the teachings ofthe Buddha in general and the Yellow Hat tradition in particular. Even today these commentaries are being used as the main textbooks in the Loseling College, the Shartse College of the Gaden Monastic University, in many monasteries of Kham and Amdo provinces of Tibet as well as in some monasteries in Mongolia. 

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