Sera Monastery is the short name for Sera Mahayana Monastery. It’s one the top 6 temples in the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the big three monasteries in Lhasa. Located in the northern suburbs of Lhasa, Sera Monastery is a holy place where the eminent monk and Living Buddhas have taught the Buddhist doctrine from ancient times. It was built in 1434 by byams-chen-chos-rje who is a disciple of Tsongkhapa. More than 8,000 monks lived and studied Buddhism there, those made Sera a great place for pilgrims and tourists.
Before Sera Monastery was built, the great master Tsongkhapa dwelled in a small temple nearby to expound the texts of Buddhism and establish his Buddhist theory. He predicted that a monastery will be set up to propagate the theory of Madhyamaka, so he asked byams-chen-chos-rje to start the construction according to the images in his vision. After rebuilding and enlargement through many generations, the old temple has reached the scale as we can see today.
Architectures and main building there
The Tsochin Hall
Tsochin means a hall for the gathering of the monks. As the largest hall in Sera, the Tsochin Hall is the management center of religious affairs. It’s a four-story building situated in the northeast of the temple and consisted of a square, scripture hall, and five Buddhist halls. There is a 5-meter bronze statue of Maitreya Buddha lies in the east of the Tsochin Hall. With a perfect face and peaceful atmosphere, the statue is one of the most precious artworks in Sera. On the bookshelves along the south wall, there are more than one hundred pieces of scriptures which were valuable presents sent from Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty.
With an area of 1,702 square meters, Ji is the biggest Dratsang in Sera Monastery. It’s decorated with many beautiful Thangka, canopies, and draperies. On the wall, there are a great number of paintings which record the biography of Sakyamuni and the guardians of Buddhism.
As one of the oldest buildings in Sera, Mai Dratsang was established in 1419. Unfortunately, the main hall is said to be destroyed by the lightning strike. The hall what we could see now was rebuilt in 1761. The most important cultural relic there is a bronze statue of Sakyamuni. Besides, the statues of the Future Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, and the Medicine Buddha stand on both sides of Sakyamuni are also masterpieces not to be missed.
Sera Monastery is famous for its great amount of Buddhist artworks and instruments used for praying and purification such as Buddha statues and Buddhist scriptures. Some of which gifts given by Yongle Emperor. The most famous attraction in Sera is a statue of Hayagriva which is said to have a magic power to bring luck and happiness to the pilgrims. Besides, there are tens of thousands of statues of Buddha’s warrior attendant could be found in Sera.
The highlights in Sera
There is a unique festival held in Sera on 27th, December of the Tibetan calendar. On this day, thousands of Tibetan Buddhism believers would come to Sera and hope to be touched by a miraculous Vajra to receive the blessing from Buddha, Bodhisattva, and guardians of Buddhism.
In the northeast of Sera, there is a platform on which one can have a bird’s-eye view of the whole monastery. It’s the place where the Thangka showing ceremony is held during the
Sho Dun Festival.
If you’re on a tour of Tibet Lhasa city, you can also get to Sera Monastery to watch the distinctive activities of debating Buddhist scriptures there.
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