Eleven monks pass highest Tibetan Buddhism exam

Monks participate in fierce dharma debates in the Jokhang Temple on Sunday. [Photo by Palden Nyima/China Daily]

Eleven monks passed the annual debating exam and were accredited as Geshe Lharampas — Tibetan Buddhism's highest academic degree — at Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, on Sunday.

The new Geshe Lharampas are from 11 key Gelukpa School monasteries in the Tibet autonomous region.

Geshe Lharampa represents the highest level of attainment for monks of Tibetan Buddhism.

The eight-day-long exam takes place in Lhasa's Sera Monastery and usually consists of two parts — the sutra debate, and an exam focused on other cultures.

Candidates are seated, with exam board members standing and walking among them. When one candidate raises a point, the exam board members will counter to keep the debate going. If the candidate wins the debate, he passes the exam.

Tenzin Thubtob Tharba, from Sera Monastery, won first place on Thursday, while Losang Oga, from Chamdo Monastery in Qamdo city won the second place, and Losang Tenzin from Lhasa's Ganden Monastery won the third place.

Monks have to spend at least 20 years learning the five volumes of Tibetan Buddhism teachings to earn the qualification.

During the ceremony, the 11 Geshe Lharampas were presented with five-colored silks, dried fruits, monk's robes and cash by officials.

"It is the 12th Geshe Lharampa accrediting activity since the activity was resumed in 2004," said Drukhang Thubten Khedrup, head of the China Buddhism Association's Tibet branch.

"These 11 Geshe Lharampas are all very knowledgeable, high-ranking monks, and most of them are the Dharma masters in their monasteries."


Monks are accredited with the Geshe Lharampa certificates. [Photo by Palden Nyima/China Daily]


Tibetan Buddhists line in front of the Jokhang Temple on Sunday to wait for a homage to the temple.[Photoby Palden Nyima/China Daily]