Term & Affiliation
Although the exact duration of one’s study at Sera Mey is not fixed, generally it takes around twenty years to attain the highest degree of Geshe Lharampa. A student who has finished fourteen years of study and examination at Sera Mey qualifies to appear for six successive years of examinations at the Gelukpa University. Upon completion of those examinations, he would be conferred the highest degree of Geshe Lharampa.
In the six years of Lharampa examinations, apart from the examinations on the five classical texts, a candidate needs to take the following subjects: Tibetan Grammar, Tibetan History, miscellaneous topics such as Praising the Supreme Qualities of Awalokiteshwara by the 7th Dalai Lama Gyalwa Kelsang Gyatso, A Eulogy for Buddha Shakyamuni For His Teachings on Dependent Origination by Lama Tsongkhapa, and Tsongkhapa’s biography.
Each of the five main classical texts is divided into two parts, the first and the second half. So in two years of examinations, a student covers the first half of all the five treatises and in the second year the remaining half is covered. In this way, the whole range of teachings are fully covered in a span of two years; this process is repeated three times with different commentaries as basis. Finally, upon passing these examinations successfully, a candidate takes part in the debate at the Great Prayer Ceremony held in the first month of the Tibetan New Year. This prayer ceremony has been founded by Tsongkhapa to commemorate Buddha’s victory over evil forces through his miraculous power. A Geshe candidate faces debates from scholars of the three seats of learning [Sera, Drepung, and Gaden] and is finally awarded a certificate that carries the stamp of the Department of Religious Affairs of CTA, the signature of either the Throne Holder or the Vice Chancellor of the Geluk School and the official stamp of the Gelukpa University’s Board of Examination. The certificates are awarded in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Gaden Tripa [supreme head of Geluk school], the ministers, members of assembly and other dignitaries of CTA.