Jang Gunchoe- Annual Inter-Monastic Debate

Historically, the name of this debate stems from the place between Lhasa and Drepung in Tibet where the three Gelug monasteries would meet for the annual winter debate, a serious business in a country where winters are severe.

This annual one-month debate is still held between the Gelug Monasteric University re-established in South India. The best of each debate class come together to measure themselves against each other. The fact that the different monasteries use their own textbooks gives added spice to the debate.

The debate is based on the Pramanavartika text (Valid Cognition), one of the five great treatises. The text, dealing with logic, is the key to the all the other studies. Although the text itself is quite short, and only has four chapters, it is relevant to each level of the geshe study, and therefore debated throughout the many years of study. The actual text is studied intensively for a month in preparation for the debate.

In Kathmandu, seven Gelug monasteries come together for this annual debate. The monasteries take turns to host this event, in which around 350 monks and thirteen philosophy teachers come together to deepen their knowledge on logic and valid cognition. Every day they attend two to three sessions of teachings on the subject, which are then debated extensively in the courtyard. In the evening, all the groups come together to watch critically the debate of one monastery.  The debate offers a great opportunity to meet like-minded monks from other monasteries to compare experiences and skills.

Kopan Monastery
(Nepal Buddhist Mahayana Center Gompa)

Kopan Monastery is affiliated with FPMT
(Foundation for the preservation of the Mahayana Tradition)