Drepung Gomang Monastic College

Group Picture in Front of New Temple


Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 near Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Gomang Dratsang or College is the oldest of the 4 colleges of Drepung. In 1959, before the invasion of Communist China, Drepung monastery had more than 10,000 monks. Gomang alone had about 5,500.  Since its beginning, Gomang College has produced many eminent Buddhist masters and has been a very important Tibetan and Buddhist learning center.  Each of the colleges of Drepung has its speciality and the focus of Gomang is philosophy:  logic and debate.

In 1949 while the Chinese Communists were attempting to establish control of the Far East, we fought the Korean War to stop this domination.  At the very same time, on the other side of China, the army of the People’s Republic of China invaded the county of Tibet.  No one came to the aid of this sovereign territory and by 1959, the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama was forced to flee his country.   He was immediately followed by 80,000 refugees.  Refugees continue to stream from Tibet, often at great peril to their lives.  All told, since 1949 more than 1.2 million Tibetans have died at the hands of the Communist  Chinese.  These oppressors are destroying the environment and culture.  These oppressors are destroying the environment and culture of Tibet and are displacing the population of Tibet.  In many areas, Chinese settlers now outnumber the Tibetan population.  The Peoples’ Republic of China is doing to Tibetans in the space of 50 years what we did to the Native Americans in the space of 500 years.   During the past forty years of their occupation, the Chinese Communists whose motto is “Religion is Poison” have destroyed more than 6,000 of Tibet’s monasteries, including Drepung,  and have imprisoned, tortured, and executed thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns.

Escape from Tibet:Only about 100 monks managed to escape with His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he fled Tibet in 1959. They lived first in Boxa, North India, and then, in 1969, 62 of the surviving Gomang monks were given 42 acres of land in Mundgod, south India.  There they started to rebuild Drepung Gomang Monastic Dratsang  in its present location.  Today approximately 2,000 monks live on these few acres.

View of Gomang from Library
Khangsten (Monks' Quarters)

Location and Services:Gomang is located in Mundgod part of a larger Doeguling Tibetan settlement of 16,000 persons.  Besides the monastery, this settlement includes 9 camps for lay people, a Central Tibetan Administration office, 1 school for lay Tibetans, a hospital, a medical center, a nunnery, an old persons home, a bank, a café , and a guest hostel.  Gomang Monastery interacts with the larger Tibetan community, teaching the three R’s in the school, assisting in the hospital, Old Folks' home, and providing training in Tibetan Arts and Crafts for the young people of the settlement while offering employment for the local Tibetan and Indian people.  In addition, of course, the monks perform religious ceremonies for the Tibetans.  All of these services are performed at no charge to the Tibetan Community.

Settlement School Children
Amala in Old Folks' Home

The Tibetan Settlement in Mundgod receives assistance from a USA based organization:  Friends of Tibetan Settlements in India (FOTSI).  This group, directed by Chela Kunasz, has recently published its Year Annual Report and Newsletter.  This document features compelling stories about some of the people who live in Mundgod and who have been a part of FOTSI's assistance program.  To access this report, please click here.

Income: The income of the monastery comes from a variety of sources:  the monks perform pujas or special prayer ceremonies for those who request spiritual assistance.  Usually, they receive a donation for their efforts.  The monks farm some of their acres growing rice and corn and they have a dairy barn.  The monastery operates the café and the guest hostel in the Tibetan settlement and runs a small carpet factory in Nepal and Dehli.

Monks Chanting
Monks Working

Numbers Increasing: Over the past 10 years the number of monks that escape from Tibet to study at Drepung Gomang Monastery in south India has more than quadrupled. From the original 62 monks the college has grown to 1500. Every year an average of 150 new monks arrive having great difficulties adjusting to the very hot climate and suffering from diseases unknown in Tibet. Many monks have  a bleeding stomach ulcer caused by the bad water quality. Malnutrition, tuberculosis and dysentery take their toll.  Recently, the monastery has established a Community Dispensary staffed by monk volunteers that serves both the monastery and also the greater Tibetan Settlement.  The dispensary provides free check-ups and charges a nominal fee for medicine.

Young Students
Monks Debating in Courtyard

Your Assistance:To assist Drepung Gomang Monastery in its mission to educate and train monks in the Buddhist philosophy of wisdom and compassion and to prevent the extinction of the culture of Tibet, we ask that you sponsor a monk at the monastery.  The monastery cannot provide enough food, shelter and medical care for all the monks. Nearly 200 of them are under the age of 18. Many of the children are orphans.

Little Monk on Water Buffalo

By pledging $20 (US) a month, you will help provide the monks with proper nutrition, clothing, medical care, and education.  While the money will go into a general fund to support all the monks, at your wish you will be given a picture and details of a Gomang monk that you select and with whom you can correspond.  If he is too young to write to you, the monastery will provide you with  updates on his life and progress.  For detailed information about the wonderful opportunity to sponsor a monk, click here.

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