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History: Gaden In Tibet

Tsongkhapa, an esteemed Tibetan Buddhist scholar, preacher, and saint, originally founded Gaden Monastery in Tibet during the years 1357-1419. In 1409, he laid the foundation of the monastery, giving rise to the Gelugpa School, also known as the yellow hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism, as referred to by the Chinese.

Both Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Padmasambhava prophesied the coming of Tsongkhapa. In his previous life as a young Lichavi boy during Buddha Shakyamuni's time, Tsongkhapa offered a crystal rosary to the Buddha and, in return, received a conch shell as a gift. Buddha, speaking to his attendant Ananda, foretold that this young boy would be born in the north in the distant future and establish a magnificent monastery named Gaden. Tsongkhapa is widely recognized as an emanation of Manjushri (the embodiment of the wisdom of all Buddhas), Avalokiteshvara (the embodiment of compassion of all Buddhas), and Vajrapani (the embodiment of the power of all Buddhas). The conch shell was later discovered at the site of Gaden Monastery but was bestowed by Tsongkhapa as an auspicious gift to the founder of Drepung Monastery.

Gaden Monastery holds a distinguished status as one of Tibet's three most prominent monasteries. It stands majestically atop a vast mountain, providing a serene and tranquil environment ideal for spiritual growth. Situated approximately 50 kilometers east of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, this sacred haven encompasses two revered colleges: Shartse and Jangtse.

In its early years of the 1900s, Gaden Monastery boasted a population exceeding 3,300 monks. By the 1950s, this number had grown to approximately 5,000, solidifying Gaden's reputation for upholding moral discipline, academic excellence, and spiritual values. Monks flocked to Gaden from various regions, including Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, and Northern India. While the monks encompassed a wide range of ages, the youngest initiates began their journey at the tender age of seven.

Irrespective of their individual areas of focus, all monks diligently participated in the monastery's rigorous study programs for numerous years. Beyond extensive philosophical studies, comprehensive training was provided in diverse vocations, such as religious music, arts, sculpture, and administrative duties, among others.

Both Shartse and Jangtse colleges within Gaden Monastery offer a unique approach by integrating the teachings and practices of Buddhist Sutra and Tantra in a unified curriculum. This stands in contrast to many other Gelug monasteries, where the study of Sutra and Tantra is kept separate. Consequently, a monk who receives education at Gaden becomes well-versed in both realms of Sutra and Tantra, enhancing their knowledge and understanding. Today we continue to build on that legacy and strive for excellence in everything we do.