Update on the Situation at Sera Monastery – Visit of H.H. the Dalai Lama

Here is a report from Sera monastery in South India about the actual situation. The report was written by a Buddhist monk.

I spent the last couple of days reuniting with friends and teachers at Sera monastery, and attending the teachings and Medicine Buddha Jenang of HH Dalai Lama at the Sera Mey temple.

[…] I can provide you a little bit of an update on the situation at the monastery.

  • The event passed peacefully. The Pomra Shugden faction continued with prayers and debate while HHDL taught directly across the road. It was a very calm and well organized event, with thousands of monks and laypeople from the Southern Settlements attending.
  • During this event, HHDL spent only perhaps 90 seconds talking about the Shugden issue. He stated that he knew it had been a hard year for Sera Mey monastery, but now the situation has improved and seems peaceful, as both sides are no longer practicing under one roof.
  • The previous note that the Sera Shugden monk posted on your website about “Not having to starve” is rich, considering that the Pomra Khangsten Shugden faction has engaged in a building spree, despite not having many new monks. An entire third floor has been added to their khangtsen, and an enormous prayer hall (similar in size to Sera Lachi) has been constructed down the hill from the medical centre. I am told it will open shortly. The money is clearly pouring in and the hints to destitution and homelessness clearly unfounded. They have kept everything belonging to the Pomra Khangtsen, despite the fact that nearly half the khangtsen has signed the oath and supports HHDL.
  • The Sera administration made a clear decision to let the Shugden monks keep the buildings (including several large dormitories, kitchen, and the old and new khantsen prayer halls).
  • The Monks at Pomra khangtsen are receiving many thousands of rupees in pocket money for long Kangso pujas to Shugden. Despite this, monks are continuing to leave Pomra, signing the oath and re-joining Sera Mey. As more leave, naturally, the amount each monk gets for the Shugden puja increases.
  • The Pomra monks who chose to sign the oath now no longer have khangsten pujas, so the income they used to receive from this is gone. This leaves many in far poorer circumstances. A piece of land has been granted by the Indian government in order for them to build a small hall in which to hold non-Shugden Pomra Prayers.
  • The large banner near the Sera Jey guesthouse stating “Shugden Followers Requested Not to Come” has been removed. The administration felt it was too heavy handed.
  • Monks are no longer asked to show ID when going to the monastery shops. I observed very carefully when I was there and this practice has definitely stopped. My friend told me now that there are several monks from the Pomra Shugden faction using the shops on the main road near the Sera Lachi. This practice was very shortlived, and, I am told, was a safety precaution to prevent any violence from either side. (The Indian government very nearly closed the monastery so it was important to keep the two sides very seperate so as to avoid any incidents).
  • The situation has been compared by several of my friends to a divorce, which though heated in the beginning results in a separation and eventually peaceful, seperate co-existence of both parties.
  • Many monks indicated to me that the protests organized by Kelsang Gyatso had greatly damaged the reputation of both Sera Monastery and Shugden devotees in the eyes of the Tibetan people, and that this damage would take a long time to repair.
  • There are now less threats against the leaders of Sera Monastery though I am told they still happen occasionally.

My great hope it that this situation can continue to simmer down and that eventually the baseless campaign against the Dalai Lama and slander against Sera and its abbots can end.