STANDING DEBATE IN LOSELING COLLEGE

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Standing Debate (Tsoglang) is the typical way of doing debate on chosen topics, during which the participants stand in front of all the monks and debate. It was first initiated by Je Rinpoche himself. During their fourth year of Prajnaparamita studies, Je Rinpoche chose Khedup Je and Jamyang Choeje as opponents in debate and asked them to do the Tsoglang debate in front of all the monks. There were many auspicious signs during that time and ever since this tradition has been carried on. Because of their founders,


there is a slight difference in the Tsoglang tradition between Sera and Drepung monasteries. Generally this is an important academic activity in all the Gelugpa monasteries.
As for the details of Tsoglang in this monastery, after the Great Monlam Festival, those who want to participate in Tsoglang debate need to receive permission from the Lama Zhunglenpa. It is entirely his choice to whom he gives permission. On special occasions, reincarnated Lamas will be allowed to participate. Otherwise, these days, the participants are chosen through a lucky draw system and those chosen ones practice at their respective Khangtsens, every Sunday after the end of the First Spring Festival. During the Third Spring Festival debate sessions, participants need to practice at their monastery's assembly hall in front of all the monks. Likewise, even during the Summer Festivals, there are practice sessions in the common debate courtyard of Drepung University, where Loseling participants must debate with Gomang participants. Especially, Vinaya and Abidharma classes have to prepare their points on paper a few months in advance. Actual Tsoglang sessions start on the first day of the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar. On this auspicious day, when Je Rinpoche asked Khedup Je and Jamyang Choeje for Tsoglang, there were many signs which were beyond the grasp of our common mind – when Jamyang Choeje hit his hat on a pillar, it passed through the pillar unobstructed and a hundred thousand Nagas came to take blessing from him, and the celebration of Drepung Lubum (Hundred Thousand Nagas) Day came into being. Semkye Tsoglang must be held on the fifteenth day of the same month but the other Tsoglangs have no fixed date.
To start the actual standing debate session, the Lama Zhunglenpa calls upon the participants of Tsoglang and they need to recite some prayers. The two monks doing Tsoglang wear a yellow hat each and must come in front of the line to do prostrations to the altar. This is followed by the actual debate and the Lama Zhunglenpa keeps the time for debate. After finishing the debate, the Tsogchen Zhelngo offers a scarf to each to the participants and the meeting is adjourned. Their respective Khangtsens may organize a small celebration where participants are offered gifts and scarves by fellow classmates and Khangtsen-mates. The two participants may call each other for dinner as a sign of good gesture.

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