Segyu (or Segyued) Monastery is one of the most important historical Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the Gelug tradition. It was founded in the middle of the 15th century by Jetsun Sherab Sengge, a direct and principle disciple of Lama Tsongkapa, founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is in Segyu Monastery that the foundation of Lama Tsongkapa’s tantric teachings such as Guhyasamaja, Heruka and Yamantaka was developed and preserved according to tradition until today.
Jetsun Sherab Sengge was known for his perfect moral conduct from childhood. After becoming a monk at a young age, he studied under various great masters, the foremost of which was Lama Tsongkapa himself. Known for his mental and spiritual brilliance, this eminent master was a great tantric scholar and one of Lama Tsongkapa’s eight closest disciples.
In the year 1419, when Lama Tsongkapa was near the end of his life, Tsongkapa asked a mass gathering of his spiritual sons who among them would be able to preserve and promote his tantric teachings. Such a huge task and responsibility was overwhelming even for the many great masters present except for one. Lama Tsongkapa asked the question again for the second time but still none of his spiritual sons were able to respond with confidence. Then Jetsun Sherab Sengge stood up from the crowd, made three prostrations to Lama Tsongkapa and said that he would preserve and promote Lama Tsongkapa’s teachings in accordance with Lama Tsongkapa’s wishes. It was at this moment that Jetsun Sherab Sengge was blessed and empowered by Lama Tsongkapa as the holder of the unsurpassed Secret Tantra.
Lama Tsongkapa presented Jetsun Sherab Sengge auspicious gifts of a skull cup filled with inner offering, a holy golden statue of Guhyasamaja, the four-in-one commentary of Guhyasamaja – two tantric commentaries and texts of the Generation and the Completion Stages, a Dharmaraja mask, ritual dance costumes, and a club. Jetsun Sherab Sengge was then instructed to institute the study and teaching of Tantra in the Tsang province of Tibet, where Lama Tsongkapa predicted Jetsun Sherab Sengge would have many bright disciples.
With Lama Tsongkapa’s blessings and a firm determination to spread the teachings of Tantra, Jetsun Sherab Sengge and his spiritual son, Dulnagpa Palden Zangpo, left for the Tsang province, where he gave great commentaries and instructions to many eminent scholars at Se Gaden Phodrang. It was here that the Tantric monastery known as the Upper Tantric College, also known as Segyu, was founded by Jetsun Sherab Sengge.
Since then, Segyu Monastery’s fame spread far and wide, and it became the centre of Tantric practice and education. Jetsun Sherab Sengge and his disciples had successfully established the foundation for Vajrayana practices such as Guhyasamaja, Heruka, and Yamantaka in accordance with Lama Tsongkapa’s tradition.
During the events of 1959, only 40 monks from the original Segyu monastery successfully fled Tibet to India. During this time, many of the Segyu monks faced great hardship and financial difficulties. Some of the monks were sent to do construction work while others performed religious rites for the local populace.
In 1979, His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang visited Kalimpong twice, during which he advised the monks that it was extremely important to ordain new monks and preserve the special tradition of Segyu monastery as it was, and still is, the source of the Tantric lineage in the Gelug tradition. With Trijang Rinpoche’s advice in mind, the Segyu monks determined to find a way to rebuild the destroyed Segyu Monastery despite the challenges they would face.
In 1986, some sponsors came forward to offer a small piece of land near the famous Boudha Stupa in Nepal, on which a simple prayer hall and shelter was constructed. The new Segyu monastery was thus established in Kathmandu, where the Segyu monastic community continues the practice that was entrusted to them by Lama Tsongkapa to this day.
At present, Segyu Monastery in Nepal has not changed since it was built in 1986. Although it is one of the most important Tantric monasteries in the Gelug tradition, Segyu monastery faces tremendous financial difficulties, which are obstacles to the monastery’s growth and expansion. The monastery’s main prayer hall can only seat a maximum of 50 monks at any given time, and the constant lack of funding means insufficient housing for the monks.
It is obvious that the ban on Dorje Shugden is the major contributing factor to the monastery’s hardship. Ever since the ban was enforced in 1997, the Segyu monks in Kathmandu decided to break off from the rest of the Gelugpa community, even separating themselves from Segyu Monastery’s branch in Kalimpong, which abides by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama’s dictates. Segyu monastery in Nepal thus became an independent monastery despite knowing the many challenges they would face both politically and socially.
In spite of this separation, the Segyu monks continue to uphold the promise that the monastery’s founder, Jetsun Sherab Sengge made to Lama Tsongkapa so many centuries ago. Their guru devotion and integrity in continuing the lineage that was once practiced in Segyu Monastery Tibet has lost them the support of the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration. The violence instigated by the ban on Dorje Shugden has also stuck terror in many of their lay supporters, causing them to stop their sponsorship in fear of being associated with Dorje Shugden practitioners. It is not difficult to conclude that Segyu monastery in Nepal is falling apart due to the discrimination caused by the Dorje Shugden ban, while Segyu monastery in Kalimpong continues to prosper.
Up till today, Segyu Monastery continues their practices, upholds the three principal pratimoksha precepts, and keeps their unique lineage alive and authentic. The traditional rituals of Segyu Monastery are still performed during the summer retreats in the same manner as the original Segyu Monastery in Tibet. Every year during the rains retreat, the monks of Segyu Monastery also perform a variety of higher tantric retreats such as Yamantaka and Guhyasamaja, and a special Dorje Shugden Kangsol offering puja.
Outwardly, Segyu Monastery today no longer has the grandeur it once had in Tibet, but the monks’ determination has ensured the continuity and growth of Lama Tsongkapa’s pure lineage and tantric teachings for future generations. It is for this very reason that Segyu Monastery is well known as a stronghold for Dorje Shugden practitioners and many acclaimed Dorje Shugden masters have visited Segyu Monastery in Nepal such as Kyabje Daknak Dorje Chang.
Today, Segyu Monastery continues to be independent of the monastery in Kalimpong and propitiates our great Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. The great Abbot of Segyu Monastery in Nepal, H.E. Jampa Tsundu is raising funds to build a new prayer hall for the monks, replacing their current prayer hall. Financial assistance to build this new prayer hall is urgently needed to create a more conducive environment for the monks to teach and learn Lama Tsongkapa’s secret whispered lineage, ensuring the tradition that was once practiced in Tibet continues to live on in Segyu Monastery in Nepal.
We at dorjeshugden.com rejoice at the determination and integrity of the monks in Segyu monastery for their continuous effort in transmitting the pure lineage of Lama Tsongkapa’s teachings. May their new prayer hall be funded quickly for the continuation of the BuddhaDharma.
To contribute and support the monks of Segyu Monastery, Nepal, please contact the following persons:
Sonam Tsering Kansakar (Secretary)
Mobile no.: +977 9801021941
Palden Gurung (Vice Secretary)
Mobile no.: +977 9808062366