Tibetan monks prepare for annual Buddhism exam

Xinhua, Jan 5, 2009

LHASA, Tibet (China) -- Monks from Tibet's leading monasteries have gathered to prepare for an annual tryout in Lhasa, hoping to get the highest academic degree of Tibetan Buddhism.

Three-hundred thirty-one monks from the Sera, Drepung and Ganden monasteries and the Jokhang Temple attended a 14-day sutra review session at a monastery about 30 kilometers from downtown Lhasa, where they discussed the precise interpretations of the Buddhist sutra and simulated oral exams.

The session, which began Dec. 30, will prepare the monks for the formal dissertation for Geshe Lharampa, the highest academic degree for the Gelugba School -- also known as the Yellow Sect -- of Tibetan Buddhism, in spring.

The date of the formal dissertation is undecided.

The dissertation and the pre-exam review session is nearly 1,000 years old. It was suspended for 16 years following a riot started by separatists in 1988.

Twenty-two monks have been awarded Geshe Lharampa since the exam was restored in 2004.