INTRODUCTION OF GESHES AT LOSELING COLLEGE

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Geshe is an academic degree conferred to a monk who has completed studies of the five major Buddhist texts and who has done academic debate tours with the monastic college or within the monastic university colleges. There are four different types of Geshe Degrees namely Lharam, Tsokram, Lingsae, Doram.


Geshe Lharam is conferred to a monk who sat for the debate examination during the Great Prayer Festival where thousands of monks from the three great monastic universities used to assemble in Lhasa. Geshe Tsokram was conferred to a monk who sat for the debate examination during the Passing Commemoration of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama where many monks of the three monastic universities used to assemble. Geshe Lingsae was conferred to a monk who sat for the debate examination during the mixed assembly of monks of the monastic colleges within a monastic university. Geshe Doram was conferred to a monk who sat for the debate examination on the stone-floored (dochel) courtyard of the Drepung Monastic prayer hall.

Geshe Lharampa

It is the highest academic degree conferred to a monk in the monastic university. In modern times it has become quite tough to get this degree. First, a monk must complete seventeen years of study at the monastic college. Then he has to sit for written and debate examinations every year for six years. After passing the examinations of the final year, during the first Spring Religious Festival he must do a debate tour where he must be an answerer for the debates of all the classes. And every Sunday evening he must do a debate tour to all twenty-five Khangtsens of Loseling and sit as answerer for the Khangtsen debates. Unlike other monastic colleges, in Loseling he has to sit alone as an answerer for all these debates. In the Winter Religious Festival he has to sit as an answerer for the debates on the five major Buddhist texts. The most important of all is that he must sit as an answerer for the debates during the Great Prayer Festival where topics from the Pramana text are debated in the morning, topics from the Perfection of Wisdom and Middle Way philosophy are debated in the afternoon and topics from the Monastic Discipline and Higher Knowledge are debated in the evening.

Geshe Tsokram

It is conferred to a monk who has either completed the first or second year of the Higher Knowledge (Abhidharma) course. However, it is in the hand of the Khenpo to make the decision and give special permission to such monks to sit for the debate examination on the five major Buddhist texts during the Winter Religious Festival. An auspicious ceremony is performed in the prayer hall of the Drepung Monastic University.

Geshe Lingsae

The candidates for this Geshe degree at the least four chanting assistants must gather to sit together and recite the Jor-chog prayers. After successfully completing that the Lama Zhunglenpa will say, “Please stand up for the logical discussion”, and the candidates will take turn to answer their colleagues’ questions. Then the Lama Zhunglenpa will say, “Recite the selective pieces and perform the dharma song.” At that point the candidate will recite the lines related to each of the five major treatises and then there will be a break session. Again, the candidates will take their seats and answer the questions posed by their colleagues. The Lama Zhunglenpa will ask to recite the Tsigdra and the candidates will comply. At the end they will utter ‘Dhi’. Finally, the Chant Master will say the Flourishing of the Teaching prayer.
Geshe Doram

Geshe Doram is conferred to any monk whether he has or has not completed the whole academic course of the college. However, it is analyzed by the Khenpo and he makes the final decision whether the monk is qualified or not for this degree. If he gets the consent of the Khenpo then he will find a debate partner with whom he will debate on the steps of the main assembly hall of Drepung Monastic University after reciting certain texts together with the Lama Zhunglenpa.

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