Sera Monastery is one of the “great three” Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, located 1.25 miles north of Lhasa and about 5 km north of the Jokhang. The other two are Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery.

Sera Monastery Tibet

Sera Monastery Tibet

Debate topics correspond with their level of studies. For example, in the studies of valid logic, one of the topics is that ‘If all things are said to be composed of the four elements of earth, water, fire and wind as according to Buddhist presentation, then where is the fire in an ice cube? Where is the water in a flame?’. One monk would stand in the middle and yell a loud ‘Dhih’, the syllable of the Buddha of Wisdom. He clasps his right hand onto left palm and pulls the left hand backwards. These gestures have profound meanings. The right hand pushing down in the clapping motion signifies the suppression of wrong views and the left hand raising in the same clapping motion symbolizes the raising of correct views. The pulling back of right hand symbolizes leading beings out to liberation and the pushing forward of left hand symbolizes the closing of the doors of downfall to lower migrations. To accomplish all these, wisdom is needed and thus the mantric syllable of the Buddha of Wisdom is pronounced. Other monks would answer either individually or as a group. When the monk answering gives an inconsistent answer, the asking monk would make a noise as if to say ,’This is most illogical!’ and when one side clearly loses a round, he would take off his hat until he wins another round later on.

Gallery of Tibetan monks.

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