Gelug-Tibetan Buddhism

Gelug was founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) but the lineage can be traced from Kadampa tradition of the great Indian master Atisha (982-1054). Tsongkhapa was of the founder of Ganden Monastery built in Lhasa which became the main seat of Gelug tradition. After that, many monasteries were built, like Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Kumbum Monastery and Labrang Monastery. There monasteries including Ganden Monastery were called the six biggest Gelug monasteries. Among them, except Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai Province and Labrang Monastery in Gansu Province, the rest are located in Tibet. Gelug is the youngest school in Tibetan Buddhism but it has the biggest influence in Tibet today. It is also known as Yellow Sect because the monks wear yellow hats. The founder Tsongkhapa emphasized on strict disciplines (The monks are required to be celibacy and prohibited from eating meat and drinking alcohol) and hierarchies. So Gelug developed very fast due to its effective managing methods. In Qing Dynasty, it was also spread to Sichuan, Yunnan, and even the capital Beijing. The famous Lama Temple in Beijing is from Gelug tradition and it was the highest level Buddhism monastery in Qing Dynasty. The top leaders of Gelug are Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. From the sixteenth century, Gelug has adopted reincarnation system. In 1577, Sonam Gyatso was considered to be the incarnation of Gyalwa Gendun Drup and formed an alliance with Altan Khan, the Mongol leader. Thus, he was designated as the 3rd Dalai Lama. “Dalai” means “ocean” in Mongolian. After that, Gyalwa Gendun Drup and Gendun Gyatso were subsequently recognized as the first and second Dalai Lama. In Qing Dynasty, Gelug became both the religion and secular leader and the system of combining religion and politics was strengthened.

Tsong Khapa

Tsongka pa life story (1357-1419) Tsongkapa was born in Tsongka, Amdo, in 1357, the fourth of six sons.

Refuge Tree



Gelug school monks

Read more religion of Tibet

1.Animism  2.Bon or Bonism  3.Nyingma  4.Sakya  5.Gelugpa  6.Kargyupa