Sera Monastery is one of the three biggest monasteries near Lhasa, it is located 2.01 km north of old Lhasa city. It is built under the famous meditating cave of Tsongkhapa. Who orders his student Sakya Yeshi to built the monastery at the spot where he has the visualization, The religious legend narrated for how the site was chosen was a clairvoyant vision that Tsongkhapa had in which he saw the full text of Prajnaparamita’s 20 slokas on Shunyata captioned in the sky. This psychic spell gave him a full insight into the Tsawasherab (Fundamentals of Madhyamika or Shunyata) text. Tsongkhapa sends the founder of this monastery Sakya Yeshi to pay homage to Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty. The Emperor was so impressed with the master and he entitles the Sakya Yeshi with title Jamyang Yeshi Choeje, which means great merciful prince of Dharma.
Sera means Merciful Hail, the origin of the name is thought to derive from the fact that Sera was in constant competition with Drepung monastery (rice heap monastery) and that the hail of Sera would destroy the rice of Drepung monastery.
Build in the year 1419 by Sakya Yeshi a disciple of Tsongkhapa, he is also known by the honorary title of Jamyang Choeje.
In its heyday, it has five colleges of instructions, but at the time of liberation, there were only three. Sera Me specialized in the fundamental precepts of Buddhism; Sera Je in the instruction of itinerant monks from outside Central Tibet; and Sera Ngag-pa, in Tantric studies.
The Jé and Mé colleges were established to train monks, over a 20-year programme of philosophical knowledge, which concludes with a Geshé degree. The Ngakpa college, which predated the other two colleges, was exclusively devoted to the practice of tantric ritual.
The travelers guide to Sera Monastery
The main interest things to do in the monastery to see the monks debating every afternoon on weekdays, from Monday to Saturday. The debating tradition can date back to the Buddha time. After the teachers preach the philosophy, the students will then debate among themselves for the clearer understanding of the philosophy. Buddha once told, “As we bite in the gold to check if it is real or fake, everyone should check his teaching and if it is true then follow”. In the debate, the one who is sitting in the answerer and the one standing is the questioner. Clapping with tapping one foot on the ground is the gesture and circulating the Mala above the answerer is the gesture of getting the wrong answer. This could be used in the form of examination, especially when someone the appearing to Geshe degree which is equivalent to Ph.D. of the modern education system.
You will be also visiting the Chapel of deity. The main deity of the monastery is Tamdrin. Tamdrin (Hayagriva) is the wrathful meditation deity and the principal deity of the monastery. The name means horse headed. There will be lots of pilgrims shuffling in the long line to touch their forehead to his feet. Unlike any other monastery after touching the feet of deity the monk would put the black mark on the children face from the butter lamp. This is the form of blessing. We bring our child to the monastery for his blessing when our child does not sleep soundly in the night, or anytime for the blessing.
Tips for Sera monastery
In the chapel of Tamdin, you could see a lots weapons, mask, and hats on the ceilings. those are some originals artifacts and some can be date back to the founding times.