Gelug Sect
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Gelug Sect

Update: Dec. 28th, 2011

Gelug Sect

Gelug means Order of Excellence or Virtuous Order in the Tibetan language. Gelug Sect requires its followers to strictly abide by its disciplines. The Gelug Sect monks usually wear yellow hats, and so it is also known as the Yellow Sect.

Gelug Sect – Tsongkhapa

Gelug Sect was founded by Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), the Gelug Sect tradition of Tibetan Buddhism took inspiration from the older Kadam Sect tradition, founded by Lama Atisha, which is no longer in existence.

Tsongkhapa was born in the Tsongkha region of Amdo province and began to receive the sermon of Buddha Dhama at the age of three, then at seven he received novice vows from his teacher and was given the name of Losang Drakpa. When he was sixteen years old, he went to Tsang region to learn Buddhist scriptures for almost ten years as teacher's ordered. As a great admirer of the Kadam Sect teachings, Tsongkhapa was an enthusiastic promoter of the Kadam Sect's emphasis on the Mahayana principle of universal compassion as the fundamental spiritual orientation. He wrote books to explain the Buddhist scriptures and did missionary work to spread the spirit of Buddhism, thus earning great respect among religious believers.

Tsongkhapa succeeded the Buddhist Tantra and combined features of other Tibetan Buddhist sects, such as the Sakya Sect and Kagyu Sect in his new doctrine with a profound philosophical understanding.

Gelug Sect – Development

In 1409, Tsongkhapa constructed the Ganden Monastery. He and his disciples recruited many followers and formed the Gelug Sect. After his death, his disciples developed this Buddhist sect quickly by spreading Gelug Sect doctrine and establishing Monasteries. Gelug Sect tradition has been extremely active rebuilding the important monasteries of Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Ganden Monastery, and Tashilhunpo Monastery as well as the Tantric colleges of Gyumey and Gyuto in various places in India. Most of Gelug Sect monasteries were magnificent and contained large numbers of monks and exquisite Buddhist sculptures. Gelug Sect grew to be the most influential Tibetan Buddhist sect.

Gelug Sect – Teachings

The teaching of Gelug Sect focuses on ethics and monastic discipline as the spiritual practice. Every detail in the lives of its monks must conform to Buddhist rules. The exemplary behavior of Tsongkhapa and his followers gained them great respect among the monks of other Buddhist Sects and of Tibetan society. It is said that since Tsongkhapa strictly abided by the religious disciplines, his body exuded a natural fragrance.

Gelug Sect – Reincarnation system of Living Buddha of Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama

While the development of Gelug Sect, the reincarnation system of Living Buddha of Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama were established at the same time, though the exact year is not ascertain in history records.

Dalai Lama is considered as the incarnation of Avalokitesvara.

Gendun Gyatso (1475-1542) is the second Dalai Lama, which is considered as the basis of reincarnation system of Living Buddha, although there is no record proving that he is the reincarnation of Gendentsu. He promoted Gelug Sect Buddhist doctrine during his whole life and was elected to be the master of Drepung Monastery at his age of 43.

In regard to the 3rd Dalai Lama Sonam Gyatso, he is considered as the formally beginning of reincarnation of Living Buddha. After the death of Gendun Gyatso, he was confirmed as the reincarnation of the 2nd Dalai Lama with great honor, which started the reincarnation system of Buddha.

When it comes to the 4th Dalai Lama Yonten Gyatso, the reincarnation system of Panchen Lama gradually established. After the death of 4th Dalai Lama, his reincarnation wasn't prohibited to find until Rosam Queji persuaded successfully. Hence, Rosam Queji was praised as the 4th Panchen Lama while the first Panchen Lama is Khedrup Gelek Pelzang, which is the formally confirming of reincarnation system of Panchen Lama.

Gelug Sect - Ganden Monastery

Ganden is located on the southern back of the Lhasa River, nearly 50 kilometers from Lhasa, and nearly 4000 meters above sea level. It is one of the earliest and largest Buddhist monasteries in the region. Ganden Monastery is the first among the temples of the Gelug Sect, or Yellow Hat sect. Its significance includes the religious, artistic, political and cultural.

Tibetans revere the monastery as much as they do the founder of the Gelug Sect School, Tsongkhapa.

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