Serpom Thoesam Norling Monastery is a registered non–profit organisation and monastic university for advanced Buddhist studies. The monastery was established on 25 April 2008 and is situated in the Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement of Mysore, India. At present, the monastery has a population of over 500 monks and has produced innumerable scholars, Buddhist masters, yogis, reincarnated tulkus, philosophers, and scholars.
The origins of Serpom Monastery can be traced to the original Sera Monastery in Tibet which was founded in 1419 by Jamchen Choeje Shakya Yeshi. It was prophesied by Lama Tsongkhapa to be a great seat for scholars studying the Middle Way philosophy.
The monastery is comprised of two colleges, Sera Jey and Sera Mey, with the former being established first. It was named Sera because of the Sewa shrubs which surrounded the perimeter of the monastery like a fence or “Rawa” in Tibetan.
In 1959, after the uprising in Tibet, many monks fled to India. Due to the generosity of the Indian government, Sera Monastery was firstly re-established in Buxa, India before it was relocated to its current location in Bylakuppe in 1970.
In addition to the land allocations, the Indian government further allotted approximately one acre per monk for their livelihood, and also provided oxen, cows and tractors to the monastery. In essence, the Indian government gave the Tibetans asylum, houses, land, liberty and a conducive environment for preserving their culture.
In 2008, a large group of monks from Sera Mey’s Pomra Khangtsen (fraternity house) separated from the rest of Sera Monastery and established Serpom Monastery to preserve the pure Gelug tradition and the practice of Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden.
The current Abbot of Serpom Monastery is His Holiness Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche. He was born in Tibet in 1948 and recognised as the fourth incarnation of his line by H.H. Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang, the junior tutor to H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama. At the age of six he was enthroned in Sera Mey Monastery. In 1959, he left Tibet and settled in India.
Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche studied the five major texts for more than 20 years. After receiving his Geshe Lharampa degree in 1980, he then completed his Tantric studies at Gyume Tantric College. Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche has received numerous Dharma transmissions and initiations from H.H. Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, H.H. Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and many other great masters.
Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche taught extensively in Sera Monastery for about 14 years. He also gave teachings and empowerments in Tibet, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and many other countries to fulfil the spiritual wishes and aspirations of many.
Ever since its establishment, Serpom Monastery has made great strides towards preserving the lineage it upholds. The Serpom Buddhist Education Development division is responsible for monastic education. The monks of Serpom Monastery study the five main texts of the Mahayana Buddhist curriculum, which takes on average 18 years. After completing these studies, the monks participate in the Geshe programme and those who pass the final examinations with distinction are awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest degree in Buddhist philosophy.
The Serpom Thoesam Norling School, established on 25 April 2009, provides the young monks with modern education. Over 100 young monks aged under 15 attend classes which includes topics such as Tibetan literature, Tibetan handwriting, English, mathematics, science and social studies.
The Serpom Library headed by Venerable Tripon Rinpoche not only provides the necessary Buddhist texts for the monastic curriculum but also compiles and prints rare Buddhist texts for further study and research. The Serpom Health Point provides basic medical treatment and first aid to the monks in need.
The official opening of Serpom Monastery took place on 18 December 2011 through the kind donations of sponsors and devotees. The event began with Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche leading thousands of monks into the main prayer hall for the very first time and conducting a puja to bless the premises. Next came the most highly anticipated event where the Venerable 7th Panglung Kuten took trance of four Protectors including Dorje Shugden, Setrap and Kache Marpo.
Serpom Monastery’s inauguration celebrations continued for four consecutive days with commentaries and teachings, debate sessions, food and prayers. Amongst the many high lamas, tulkus, geshes, abbots and monks who were in attendance were:
- His Holiness Yongyal Rinpoche
- His Eminence Achok Rinpoche
- His Eminence Venerable Zawa Rinpoche
- His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende of Shar Gaden Monastery
- Venerable Gameng Kuten
- Representatives from Rabten Choeling
- Representatives from Domo Geshe Ladrang
- Representatives from Gangchen Ladrang
- Representatives from Trijang Ladrang
- Representatives from Geshe Thubten Trinley Rinpoche
- Representatives from Phegyeling Monastery
Joining them were guests and sponsors from various countries including Taiwan, China, Tibet, America, France, Switzerland, Australia and Italy.
This auspicious occasion was more than a simple opening ceremony. It was an inspirational reminder that Dorje Shugden’s practice is very much alive and growing, and that the Dharma is spreading through the opening of new monasteries propagating the tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa.
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