Yellow hat Monk
Yellow hat Monk

Tibetan Monks
Tibetan Monks
The government of a Tibetan Monastery may be described as a pyramid organized into three levels. At the lowest level the general monk population is divided into groups called ‘khangchens'(or ‘michens’). Monks are organized into “khangchens” by their place of origin. Each “khangchens” consists of about 100 monks, with the one topmost in seniority serving as the “jigen” or leader. An executive committee within the ‘khangchen’ handles the day-to-day affairs. The level above the ‘khangchen’ is the ‘dratsang’ or school (it is more fashionable to call it ‘University’). Usually formed by several ‘khangchens’, each ‘dratsang’ is run more or less independently. Resembling a monastery within a monastery, each has its own prayer hall, library and monks, and possesses its own land, pastures and housing. However, ‘dratsangs’ differ from each other in size and wealth. Some of them are so small that they have no `khangchen’ under them. Some ‘dratsangs’ are schools of exoteric Buddhism, and some of esoteric or tantric Buddhism. While in Tibet we met a lot of monks. Roughly monks in Tibet are categorized as follows :
a) Lama
The term ‘lama’, meaning ‘guru’ or master in Tibetan, used to be the tittle reserved solely for high-ranking or accomplished Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordinary monks were merely ‘drapas’. Later, as ‘lama’ came to be used as a polite form od address for any ‘drapa’, it became a common misnomer for all Tibetan monks.
b) Monks
Tibetan Buddhism used to have private tutorships for monks. Ge-lug-pa started a school system for monks. That is the ‘dratsang’ system. All sects, including Bonism, adopted this system. In a monastery, monks are divided into four groups:
(1). Monk students of exoteric and esoteric Buddhism. Called ‘bachogwa’ (scholars) in Tibetan, these monks, are prospective holders of the top degrees of monastic study, and stand an excellent chance of becoming candidates for the position of monk officials. They represent “the best hope” of all monks but not all of them can hope to fulfill this intention.
(2) Monks trained in religious professions. These are monks who hire themselves out to pray for the safety and the happiness of their clients; to conduct religious ceremonies to release the dead from their sins, or as oracle consultants. Sometimes they pray on the street.
(3) Artisans and specialized practitioners. This category includes sculptors, molders and casters of images, painters, wood-block carvers and printers of Buddhist texts, and doctors.
(4) Monk laborers. These ordinary monks who perform various chores and duties about the monastery make up the majority of the clergy.
But these official descriptions does not imply the beauty of all these humans. The video below gives an impression of the privelge we had to meet some of these wonderful people. Enjoy!.++

Pack your bags Grigory Perelman


  1. Thanks for this post!! What a privilege it was to be there among all these Tibetan people and meet them and ‘their world’ :wub_tb:
    Indeed, Marcel, ….. wonderful people …. and a wonderful impression in your video in this post! :grin1_ee:

  2. true monks are really a unique set of people. they are unique not because they lead a simple and humble way of life, not because they preach the words of peace, not because their souls are full of love but because they are free from ‘hatred’ and ‘prejudice’. any person can strive to lead a simple life, love most around them and work for and spread the words of peace. but, as normal human beings, we can love yet always tend to carry a burden of, if not hate, a degree of prejudice within us. true monks are free from this evil. look into their eyes…you wouldn’t find even a shadow of hatred/prejudice in there. they have love and only love to give you. so yes, you’re absoluty right when you said about the “beauty of these humans”. yes, they are humans like us….only more beautiful – pure and immaculate.
    an informative post. thank you, mr. marcel.

  3. oh…one other thing. i really don’t have a very comfortable feeling about all these divsions among monks. division brings politics. politics brings competition and hunger for power. and power hungriness brings chaos and disruption in integrity. nonetheless, i’ll still go with your line “official description does not imply the beauty of all these humans”. let it be the only truth that guides these wonderful people in thier eternal effort to make this world a better place. let their divine beauty surpass the triviality of all those ranks and positions.
    thanks again, mr. marcel.

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