Drepung Monastery housed more than 10,000 monks prior to the destruction of the monasteries during the Communist Chinese invasion of the 1950's. Gomang alone had 5,500 monks. In 1959, just 300 monks managed to escape from Tibet. They went first to Buxa, a refugee camp, and later, in 1969, sixty of them reached Mungod in South India where they started to rebuild the Drepund Gomang Monastery in its present location, under the compassionate guidance of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet.
Out of Gomang have come Bodhisattvas (beings on the path of enlightenment), philosophers, and scholarly holy manster who have manifested miracles as signes of their spiritual accomplishments. Many Gomang lamas such as Kunkhen Jamyang Shepa, Gunthang Tenpai Dromea, and Changia Rolpai Dorje were eminent masters in the Sutra and Tantra and in the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. Three of the brothers of His Holiness the present Dalai Lama also studied at Drepung Gomang Monastery.
More than 1500 monks are currently studying at Gomang Monastery, with about 150 new arrivals annually--many of them from Tibet. Children as young as six years old continue to flee Chinese-occupied Tibet to South India and arrive at the monastery penniless to study their own language, culture, and religion freely. Monks from India, Nepal, Bhutan, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Mongolia, and Russia are also arriving at the monastery. The University provides facilities to everyone wishing to study the great texts in a monastic setting.
In 1999 the Drepung Gomang Monastery launched a very special tour focusing on sacred arts, which form the foundation for the individual expression of faith, devotion, compassion, and wisdom.
The goals of the Sacred Art Tour are: 1. to share the compassion and wisdom of the ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture with North Americans; 2. to inform the public about the arts and culture of Tibet; 3. to generate a greater awareness of the endangered Tibetan civilization; and, 4. to ensure the survival of the Tibetan culture in exile by raising much- needed funds for the Food Foundation and the Health Fund. Both these programs will ensure the well-being of the 1,850 monks at Drepung Gomang Monastery.
The tour was such a huge success that the Gomang monks have repeated the tour every year since in the United States and Canada.
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Drepung Gomang Monastery
Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Je Jamyan Choje near Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Gomang is the oldest of the seven colleges on Drepung. Gomang means "many doors". This name comes from the highly accomplished spiritual masters having deep realizations of emptiness which enable them to pass through the walls with no need for doors. Drepung Gomang has been a very important Tibetan Buddhist Monastic University for nearly 600 years. Students have come from all over Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, Ladakh, India, and more recently from the west also.