July 12, 2011

Gongfu monks? Not quite- just scripture debates, Sera Gompa. Lhasa

Locations: Sera Gompa, Lhasa, Tibet, China (29° 41′ 53″ N, 91° 8′ 0″ E)
Date: 18 May 2005; 5.50pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens

Any visitors to Lhasa must visit Sera Monastery, which is within Lhasa limit at the northeast corner of town. One can easily get there by public bus. There are several reasons to visit this monastery including its historical and religious significance and the size and expanse. However one good reason to visit it is to witness the daily Scripture Debate by the resident monks. The monastery had developed over the centuries as a place of scholarly learning with many famed monks in Tibetan Buddhism having trained here. Everyday around 3pm, the resident monks will gather in the garden within the compound of the monastery to debate Buddhist scriptures and philosophy. The debates are punctuated by physical gestures such as hands clapping after each question, loud screaming and verbal exchanges that tremendously enliven the ambience of the debates. Some of such gestures may seem so violent that it may appear to an uninformed observer that the monks may be having a heated argument. These debates make this monastery a special experience.

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