Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was founded by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gedun Drupa in 1447, and in due course of time became the most vibrant monastery in U-Tsang province of Tibet. The monastery grew in importance in the 16th century, when Tashi Lhunpo Monastery’s Abbot, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen (1570-1662) was recognized by the 5th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of Amitabha, the spiritual teacher of Chenrezig, the patron saint of Tibet, and was given the title Panchen Lama. ‘Panchen’ meaning Great Scholar. The Panchen Lamas became, along with the Dalai Lamas, the most important religious figures in Tibet.
The relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama is unique. Each Lama in his lifetime is not only involved in the search of the other’s reincarnation, but also assumes the role, first as the disciple and later in life as the guru of the other.
Under the fourth Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Gyaltsen, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery’s fame reached far and wide and attracted monks not only from the three provinces of Tibet but from Bhutan, India, Nepal, Mongolia and China. The Monastery provided a holding environment and a robust learning community where monks received quality education as well as the warmth of a family. Over the years, the monastery flourished as a center of learning, and played a vital role in the preservation of Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy and practice. By 1959, 5000 monks resided in the Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet. In addition, there were 2000 monks who came from outside Tibet.
But following the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and the subsequent destruction caused by the Cultural Revolution, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was never the same again. Only 400-500 monks remained in the monastery. The 10th Panchen Lama could not leave Tibet. As a result, many of the senior Lamas from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery remained with him. Without the guidance of the Panchen Lama and the senior Lamas, Tashi Lhunpo monastery was at a huge disadvantage, and could not re-establish and progress in exile with pace, and remained one of the poorest of the re-established monasteries in exile.
In 1972, under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with determination of the senior monks, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was re-established in Bylakuppe, Karnataka State, in South India from scratch! Today in India, with over 413 monks, the Monastery continues to follow the same tradition and principles practiced in Tibet with renewed energy and zeal! Over time and with the encouragement and support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, today, Tashi Lhunpo is once again picking up and becoming one of the major centers of Tibetan Buddhist study and practice in exile in India.
To maintain Peace and Harmony
The Monastery endeavors to maintain peace and harmony within individuals and with the world at large, and be sensitive to the environment and others by following the guidance and examples of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama.
To be good human beings
The Monastery provides a holding environment and nurtures the monks to flower into loving and compassionate human beings.
To promote a sense of responsibility and service
Through focused learning and practice of Buddhist philosophy coupled with modern subjects, the monastery encourages the monks to acquire the skills and wisdom to be responsible and serve others with a sense of vision.
The monastery is located in the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe, Mysore Distt, K.S. South India. It is about two hrs. drive from Mysore to Bylakuppe. The monastery can be reached from Bylakuppe market along the main road from Mysore, or from the Golden temple road from Kushalnagar, which is the nearest main town. The sketch map below points the way: