Namgyal Monastery as it exists today in India

Namgyal Monastery as it existed in India

In 1959, the Red Chinese invaded Tibet. After the unsuccessful popular uprising against Chinese rule, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and approximately one hundred thousand Tibetans, including fifty-five Namgyal monks, fled into the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bhutan, and India. His Holiness then re-established Namgyal Monastery in India, and a small group of new, young monks from various Tibetan refugee schools joined those Namgyal monks from Tibet who had survived the desperate early years as refugees. Thus the monastery’s ancient rituals, artistic skills and traditions — making butter sculptures, constructing coloured sand mandalas, performing sacred monastic dance, ritual music, and chanting — were gradually preserved and revived.

Namgyal Monastery was rebuilt near the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala and has managed to continue its program of studies and ritual practices under the very guidance of His Holiness. The monastery has nearly two hundred monks.

Younger monks are engaged in study of the major texts of Buddhist Sutras and Tantras, while at the same time pursuing the modern studies of both Tibetan and English Language. Their curriculum includes the study of Sutra and Tantra texts, Buddhist Philosophy, and practising debate, as well as making butter sculptures, torma offerings, sand mandalas, playing various ritual musical instruments, ritual chanting, and dances.

Unlike other Tibetan monasteries, Namgyal Monastery has a unique mandate. It is the personal monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and as such is non-sectarian and responsible for maintaining ritual practices and teachings of all the four main lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is especially privileged and honoured to perform annually the sacred rites and rituals established by the successive Dalai Lamas for the temporal and spiritual benefits and prosperity of Tibet and its people, and for world peace in general.