Curriculum at Drepung Gomang Monastic College

Drepung Gomang is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery established in the Gelug tradtion, founded by Je Tsong Khapa (1357-1419).

The Gelug tradition lays special emphasis on the place of ethics, as expressed through monastic discipline, as the ideal basis for religious education and practice.  In addition, the Gelug tradition regards sound scholarship as a prerequisite for constructive meditation; hence, the teachings of both sutra and tantra are subject to rigorous analysis through the medium of dialectical debate.  Drepung Gomang College is renowned among all the Gelug Monasteries (Ganden, Sera, and Drepung) for its emphasis on and expertise in the field of  logic and debate.


Class in the Temple
Exam Time

Two Students at the Monastery
(Tenzin Gyalpo & Tenpa Phuntsok)

In general, the curriculum of study in a Gelug monastery covers the five major topics plus Collected Topics (Parchen) which is preliminary to the syllabus proper.    The major topics are Valid Cognition (Pramana) - 5 years;  Phenomonology (Abhidharma) - 2 years, the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita - 5 years), Middle View (Madhyamika) - 2 years; and Monastic Discipline (Vinaya) - 2 years.  These five are studied meticulously by the dialectical method using Indian texts as well as Indian and Tibetan commentaries to them for a period of sixteen years.  On completing this training, a monk may spend an additional year preparing for the Gelug Exam which is standard for all of the three Gelug Monasteries (Ganden, Sera, and Drepung).  Upon successfully passing this exam, the monk is awarded of the degree of Geshe (Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy).  The highest level of the Geshe degree is Geshe Lharampa.  This latter degree requires an additional six years of study; therefore,  a monk with a Geshe Lharampa degree has studied Buddhist philosophy for a minimum of 22 to 23 years.

(Geshe Lharampa Jinpa Sonam)

If he wishes, upon completing his degree,  the Geshe may join one of the tantric colleges (Gyumey and Gyuto) to study the tantras and thereby complete his formal studies; or he may return to his local monastery to teach, or retire into seclusion to engage in intensive meditation.  A monk who has completed a Geshe's training is respected as being a fully qualified and authoritative spiritual master worthy of devotion and esteem.

Young monks begin their studies around the age of six.  They attend 8 years of classes in the standard subjects of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and history.  In addition, they begin preliminary studies of scripture and philosophy as soon as they learn to read and write.

Little Students


Three Monks Studying
Little Monk Reading Scripture

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