Drepung Monastery was founded on a hillside outside of Lhasa, Tibet, in 1416 by Jamyang Choeje, one of the four principal disciples of the great Je Tsongkhapa. Eventually growing into a grand monastic university, Drepung housed, at its zenith, more than 10,000 monks and was comprised of seven colleges -‐ much like early European universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. Known as Khemang Losel Jewai Ling Dratsang, the “Monastic College of a Million Brilliant Scholars,” Drepung Loseling became the largest of Drepung’s colleges and the one most renowned for its academic excellence, a place where the legacy of Nalanda and of Je Tsongkhapa has been kept alive.
Embodying Nalanda’s great gifts to Tibetan Buddhism and the aspiration and ability to keep those gifts alive and continually relevant, Je Tsongkhapa was a supreme scholar and adept who established a great monastic educational system in Tibet modeled after Nalanda. He was a prolific author whose life’s work encompassed astute insights into the theory of sutra and tantra, profound meditative experiences; and the creation of important texts about ethics.
Surviving great hardship after the invasion of Tibet by Chinese Communist forces in 1959, teachers and monastic students have preserved Je Tsongkhapa’s dedication to intellectual and spiritual life while in exile in India. While only three hundred Drepung Loseling monks were able to follow His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama into exile in India after the decimation of the monastery in Tibet, they continued to teach, study and practice. In time, Drepung Loseling was reestablished in south India in 1969 on land generously provided by the government of Karnataka State.
To this day, Drepung Loseling combines philosophical and logical investigation of the mind with contemplative practice and ethical behavior to prepare Tibetan monastics to engage deeply with humanity’s most pressing questions. It is now a thriving community of more than 3000 monks, upholding the legacies of Je Tsongkhapa and Nalanda University.