Tibet - Table of Contents ............... Architecture Around the World

Sera Monastery
near Lhasa, Tibet

Pronounced SAIR a

Below, on this page:

Entrance gate

Monastery grounds

Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall

Sera Monastery, founded in 1419,  is one of the great three Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet, located 1.25 miles  north of Lhasa.

During the 1959 revolt in Lhasa, Sera monastery suffered severe damage, with its colleges destroyed and hundreds of monks killed. After the Dalai Lama took asylum in India, many of the monks of the Sera Monastery who survived the attack moved to India.

- Information culled from Wikipedia (online December 2013)
The architectures of Tibetan Buddhism gradually developed from just niches and ritual halls [in palaces] to independent building complexes, and eventually separated from the palace architectures, after the extensive spreading of Buddhism and strong supporting by Songtran Ganpo and his successors. The early Buddhist temples were built under the patronage of the Tubo rulers. But later on the Buddhist followers began to fund the construction of the monasteries.

A monastery architecture is a large sized building complex consisting of temples and halls, residence quarters of monks, stupas and several colleges.

- Tibetan Monastery Architectures (online December 2013)
Entrance Gate


Entrance gate



Entrance gate



Entrance gate.
Dharma wheel and double deer.
Dharma wheel of life (Dharmacakra):  Dharma is the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment. All Buddhists agree that the original turning of the wheel occurred when the Buddha taught the five ascetics who became his first disciples at the Deer Park in Sarnath. Buddhist teachings are called "turnings" of the dharmachakra. In memory of this, the Dharmachakra is sometimes represented with a deer on each side.

A traditional dharma wheel is a chariot wheel with varying number of spokes. It can be in any color, although it is most often gold. At the center sometimes there are three shapes swirling together, although sometimes at the center is a yin-yang symbol, or another wheel, or an empty circle.

A dharma wheel has three basic parts -- the hub, the rim, and the spokes. Over the centuries various teachers and traditions have proposed diverse meanings for these parts. The number of spokes may vary from 4 to 31.

The Dharma wheel is recognized globally as a symbol for Buddhism.  In 1947, the government of India adopted a new national flag, in the center of which is a navy blue Ashoka Chakra on a white background. The Dharmachakra is also the U.S. Armed Forces military chaplain insignia for Buddhist chaplains.


Monastery grounds








Note prayer wheels



Note prayer wheels behind the three visitors



Visitor breathes in incense to purify herself.
At some temples, visitors burn incense (osenko) in large incense burners. Purchase a bundle, light them, let them burn for a few seconds and then extinguish the flame by waving your hand rather than by blowing it out. Finally, put the incense into the incense burner and fan some smoke towards yourself as the smoke is believed to have healing power. For example, fan some smoke towards your shoulder if you have an injured shoulder.



Parents and children in line to receive medical treatment for children through blessing


Same line









Details below:



More details below:



More details below:



Doorway detail. More details below:


Doorway detail. More details below:


Doorway detail. More details below:



Doorway detail: painted wooden post















Note building - a nunnery - in upper right photo.



Nunnery



Painted rocks



Painted rocks


Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall





Pilgrims slide face down on a mat in front of the main assembly hall (below)



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall
The largest and most striking building in the complex is the Tsogchen located farthest up the hill. It dates back to 1710. Since the 11th century, most of the Tibetan monasteries were built with the main hall in the center. 

"With the gradual development of all sects of Tibetan Buddhism, the number of monks increased, the main hall previously used as the shrine of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas was gradually changed to the important arena for the monks to study, meet and meditate. The designers paid more attention on both the enlargement of the space and the lightening effect.  They added top windows...  They also decorated on the golden roofs of the buildings with the sculptures of animals and objects, such as the double deer, dharma wheels and victory banners, making the whole constructions glittering with the golden shine." - 



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall



Dharma wheel and double deer.
Dharma wheel of life (Dharmacakra):  Dharma is the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment. All Buddhists agree that the original turning of the wheel occurred when the Buddha taught the five ascetics who became his first disciples at the Deer Park in Sarnath. Buddhist teachings are called "turnings" of the dharmachakra. In memory of this, the Dharmachakra is sometimes represented with a deer on each side.

A traditional dharma wheel is a chariot wheel with varying number of spokes. It can be in any color, although it is most often gold. At the center sometimes there are three shapes swirling together, although sometimes at the center is a yin-yang symbol, or another wheel, or an empty circle.

A dharma wheel has three basic parts -- the hub, the rim, and the spokes. Over the centuries various teachers and traditions have proposed diverse meanings for these parts. The number of spokes may vary from 4 to 31.



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall - Interior mural



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall - Mural detail



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall - Mural detail



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall - Mural detail


Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall - Mural detail


Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall - Mural detail



Photos taken on November 24, 2013, the Tibetan Lhabab Duchen Festival.
Lhabab Duchen is a Tibetan festival commemorating a story told of the historical Buddha, who is called "Shakyamuni Buddha" by Mahayana Buddhists. In this story, the Buddha had been teaching celestial beings, including his mother, in one of the god realms. A disciple begged him to return to the human world, and so Shakyamuni descended from the god realm on three ladders made of gold and gems.

This is only day that all the monks in Sera assemble in this hall.






Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall


Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall








Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall - detail below



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall - detail






Detail below:



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall. Detail below:



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall - detail



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall. Detail below:



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall. Detail



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall. Details below:



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall. Detail is distorted intentionally to show features of the upper figures. Another detail below:



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall. Detail



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall



Tsogchen Main Assembly Hall.
Yak butter - gifts from worshipers - is added throughout the day.


Photos and their arrangement 2013 Chuck and Nancy LaChiusa

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