DHARAMSHALA, October 8: In what is being termed as a “historic change” to the age old Geluk Gyuktoe Chenmo (Gelukpa University Examination), science studies have been introduced in the highest examinations conducted by the Gelukpa University.
Monks studying in the final four years of the regular monastic study programme and the first two years of the Geshe Lharampa degree curriculum, which is equivalent to doctorate of Philosophy, will now be required to appear for science examinations over a spread of six years, beginning 2014.
The decision was taken recently at a high-level meeting held in the Drepung Monastery, south India, headed by Gaden Tri Rinpoche and participated by over 70 representatives, including the abbots of the major monasteries.
A six-point resolution was adopted at the meeting regarding the introduction of science studies.
Geshe Lhakdor, director of the Dharamshala based Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, who attended the meeting, called the decision a “historic step in accordance with the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
Speaking to Phayul, Geshe Lhakdor noted that as per the resolution, the monks in the higher classes will study science for over a period of six years; the first four years during the Abhidharma and Vinaya studies and the last two years in Karam, as part of the six-year Geluk Gyuktoe.
The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and the Emory University in Atlanta, US have been requested to take the responsibility of continuously publishing bilingual (Tibetan and English) science textbooks and also to send teachers during the last two years of the monastic science studies.
“In order to ensure the quality and maintain the standard of the science studies, Emory University and LTWA will form a Scholar’s Committee, which will decide the subjects to be studied,” Geshe Lhakdor said.
“If there is uniformity about the process of examinations in each of these monastic universities, Emory and LTWA will take the responsibility of preparing the exam papers in consultation with the abbots of the respective monasteries.”
Geshe Lhakdor, who has been involved in giving science workshops, specially designed for monks, for over a decade now, said the monks will be studying science at the beginners level.
“The monastic’s philosophy study is quite advanced and therefore the monks have a greater capacity to understand the concept easily but then the problem lies with the language,” he said. “Since 2006, we have been translating science text books and we have already published half a dozen science text books which we have distributed to many of the monastic universities.”
When asked about the reactions of the monks to the decision, Geshe Lhakdor recalled the experiences of the monk participants at the science workshops, many of whom were geshes and khenpos.
“The monks who have been undertaking the science programme for many years felt that it was wonderful and enriching because both science and Buddhism talk about the reality through different perspectives and different ways of measuring things.”
Geshe Lhakdor noted that the science programme has been planned in such a way so as not to “hamper the marks of the monks in their Buddhist studies.”
“We are planning to give separate marks for science and separate marks for Buddhist studies,” he added.
The Gelug Gyuktoe examination is conducted once a year at one of the three seats of learning i.e., Gaden, Drepung and Sera monastery by rotation.