Test elevates eight to top ranks of Tibetan monks

Updated: 2012-04-16 10:45

By Liu Xiangrui and Daqiong in Lhasa (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0
Test elevates eight to top ranks of Tibetan monks

The final test for candidates for Gashelharampa accreditations is held in Lhasa's Jokhang Temple.Photo by Liu Xiangrui / China Daily 

Candidates for Gashelharampa accreditations received a final test in Lhasa's Jokhang Temple on Friday before a crowd of about 260, including visiting monks and local residents.

Gashelharampa represents the highest level of attainment for monks studying the scriptures of Tibetan Buddhism, and it often takes years of hard study to attain the degree, local Buddhist followers say.

Frequently clapping their hands, the judging monks took turns challenging the candidates' points and urged them to respond to their tough questions.

Any hesitation or faltering by the candidate, dressed in formal crimson attire and sitting on a traditional yellow cushion in the middle of the hall, was likely to draw laughter from the crowds who closely followed the debates.

The occasion, which includes candidates stating their own points, which monk judges challenge and assess, is important in Tibetan Buddhist circles.

The debates began with chanting of sutras by about 200 monks at 10 am. The candidates took turns to answer inquiries related to the Five Classic Buddhist Scriptures.

Results were delivered after three hours of debate by a panel of 30 senior scripture-studying monks from major monasteries.

An awards ceremony was staged for eight monks, who got their degrees. They are from major Gulug school monasteries, such as Sera, Drepung and Gandan monasteries in Lhasa, and Tashilhunpo Monastery in Xigaze.

"I have been devoted to the study of the Five Classic Buddhist Scriptures for many years," says 31-year-old Dorjegyltsan, who placed first among the candidates. The monk from Gandan Monastery started studying scriptures at age 8.

"I feel proud to pass the statement defense today and get the Gashelharampa. But it doesn't mean I can stop there. I must carry on with my study with even greater efforts in the future."

Friday's event for accrediting Gashelharampa degrees has been the eighth for Tibetan monks since 2004, when the tradition was restored.

Including this year's winners, 56 monks have earned the degree since 2004.

The eight candidates were qualified to "state their points" and to be assessed on Friday after passing a preliminary test last August.

The visiting monks and other believers laughed at times when the candidates skillfully responded to challenging questions.

Pendrol, who is among the local residents invited to witness the event, enjoyed the debates.

"Last year a monk from Xigaze won the first place. I'm glad to see that this time Lhasa has the winner," says the 42-year-old Buddhist.

She watched the same event two years ago and was again impressed by the heated debates carried out by the candidates.

"The winners undoubtedly had done a really good job," she says. "I think the contest is open and fair. And I'm happy to be here and enjoy it."

Related Stories

Tibetan truths 2012-03-16 11:18
Artists take inspiration from, and give to, Tibetan areas 2012-02-08 14:02
A novel of epic proportions 2011-10-28 11:23
Let there be light 2011-10-24 14:52
Gift from god or just folklore? 2011-10-05 10:59