Monks sent to Tibet to debate scriptures

On the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the High-level Tibetan Buddhism College of China, a total of 23 students from the Sakya and Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism studying in the 14th advanced academic class held by the college went to the Ganden Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Sakya Monastery and other influential Tibetan Buddhist monasteries to practice scriptures debating for 10 days, learning from high monks in those monasteries and exchanging with them.

Debating scriptures is an important part of studying Tibetan Buddhism and is also an important way of testing monks' theoretical knowledge. Debating is mainly focused on the "Five Main Theories" of Tibetan Buddhism. Each theory is debated for one day and each student must debate in front of 300-400 monks in the monastery.

Kelsang Shaba used to be a monk at Gompa Monastery in Jone County, Gansu Province, and has already been studying at the High-level Tibetan Buddhism College of China for four years. This is the first time he has come to Tibet to debate scriptures at the major monasteries.

"I'm very satisfied with my own debating today, and I've learned a lot from the eminent monks," Kelsang Shaba is excited having finished debating.

Since 2015 the High-level Tibetan Buddhism College of China has send their students to debate scriptures at the Sera Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery and others. Eminent monks were invited to give their view and all monks from the monastery came to observe. 

After the first debate had finished at Drepung Monastery, scholar Gerong Tenzin said: "This is a platform for exchange. It's very rare to be able to debate with eminent monks from the major monasteries, and basically impossible for someone to come to Tibet and debate at the major monasteries." He also said that many scholars at Drepung Monastery have confirmed that the students had reached a certain level with their Buddhist studies. 

According to reports, to be eligible to enter the High-level Tibetan Buddhism College of China,  students needs more than 20 years of monastery study followed by a further three years of advanced study at a Buddhist college. Then after rigorous examination, debating and thesis defense, they can obtain the Thoramba advanced academic title, which is equivalent to a doctorate.

The High-level Tibetan Buddhism College of China was founded in Beijing, capital of China on September 1, 1987, by the late 10th Panchen Lama and Zhao Puchu, then director of the Chinese Buddhist Association.

The institute combines traditional Tibetan Buddhism teaching styles with modern science courses like computing, foreign languages and others.

Over the past 30 years and up until May 2017, more than a thousand people have completed their studies and obtained an advanced academic title, becoming Tibetan Buddhist representatives. Among them, there are 381 Living Buddhas,148 students got the Thoramba (doctorate) degree and 150 others got the Zhiramba degree (masters).