By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, August 26: In yet another onslaught at monastic population growth, the Chinese authorities have ordered Serthar Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Serta County, Sichuan Province, to put a check on its enrollment.
The Chinese officials, stating reasons of uncontrolled growth of the monastery, ordered the monastery to impede admissions especially of nuns, and also monks and nuns from other regions. The officials have also specified the Buddhist Institute started by late Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok as a hub for those who disseminate information to ‘exile separatist forces.’
The Voice of Tibet quoted a source as saying, “Around 1,000 monks, who study at the monastery are forcefully kept under house arrest at a state-run old age home here in Larung Gar.”
Families of monks and nuns from Driru and Tibet Autonomous Region were subjected to intimidation, asking them to withdraw their children from the institute. Sources added that there have been some cases of Chinese officials molesting the nuns of the institute.
The authorities have managed to extrude several monks and nuns from the institute and hey are planning to extrude more in the coming days, according to the same sources.
The Institute, founded by late Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, a highly respected Tibetan Buddhist teacher, housed 10,000 students, chiefly comprising of monks and nuns with a handful of lay disciples. The institute played an important in revitalising the teaching of Tibetan Buddhism following China’s liberalisation of religious practice in 1980.
After meeting the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the DalaiLama during his India Tour in mid-90s, khenpo Jigme Phunstok became a target for the Chinese authorities. Subsequently, in 1999 they ordered him to reduce his then 8,800-student population to the permitted number of 1,400 which he refused.
The summer and autumn of 2001 saw the dismantling of Serthar Institute. Over 8000 students were evicted forcibly from the Institute and approximately 2000 huts of monks and nuns were demolished under the supervision of teams of military and armed police personnel.
Khenpo died on 6 January 2004 in a hospital in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province at the age of 72.