The Nyagre Khangtsen in Drepung
A monastic “unit of houses”.
Nyagre is the name of a region in East Tibet. In the 16th century – during the time of the first Kyabgön of Dagyab – it was united with other regions to become a district now known as Dagyab. Khangtsen is a “unit of houses” within a Tibetan monastery, which usually consists of a meeting hall and several residential buildings.
Drepung, Sera and Ganden were the biggest monasteries in Tibet. Located in an area surrounding the capital, Lhasa, they were home to approximately 9000 monks. The monastery universities consisted of colleges (Dratsang) which were subdivided into individual “house units” (Khangtsen). These units were allocated to the different regions of Tibet.
There was another monastery besides those three big universities - the monastery university Ratö. It was founded by a master of the early incarnation lineage of Dagyab Kyabgön Rinpoche.
In the universities mentioned above there was a Nyagre Khangtsen or Tre-Nyag Khangtsen in each of them (in Sera). Traditionally, monks studying Buddhist philosophy in Central Tibet were only allowed to join “their” respective house units. Until 1959 there were up to 600 monks from Dagyab living in the Nyagre Khangtsen of the Drepung monastery.
After the Tibetan people’s uprising in 1959 and the escape of the Dalai Lama and thousands of his fellow countrymen to India, Drepung, Sera, Ganden and Ratö were rebuilt in South India - with the help of the Indian Government. The monasteries are clearly smaller than their “motherhouses” in Tibet. For example: only two of the seven Dratsangs of the Drepung university exist in exile in India: Gomang Dratsang and Loseling Dratsang. Together the two Dratsangs accommodate about 4500 monks.
Drepung Nyagre Khangtsen belongs to Loseling Dratsang and is home to 130 monks. Those monks are among the very best students. They are masters in performing rituals (religious chants, sacral music, Cham dances), in creating sand mandalas and artful Torma figures. Several leading figures of the monastery Drepung belong to Nyagre Khangtsen. Some of the Geshes are well-respected teachers at the Loseling Dratsang. Others have gone back to Dagyab, where they help monks and nuns with their monastic studies and the general population with their Buddhist and other social activities.
Many reincarnations (Tulkus) live at the Nyagre Khangtsen of Drepung: besides Dagyab Chungtsang Rinpoche who is historically known as the representative of Dagyab Kyabgön Rinpoche, mainly Tokden Rinpoche, vice-abbot of Tantric Monastic College (Gyütö Dratsang) and Lagon Rinpoche. Nyagre Khentul Rinpoche ("Gelek Rinpoche") who lives in the USA is also a high Tulku of this Khangtsen. Nyagre Khentul Rinpoche and his Buddhist centers “Jewel Heart” work closely with the Nyagre Khangtsen of Drepung.
As a monk he not only studied at the Nyagre Khangtsen of Drepung, Tibet. He also joined the monastic community at the Nyagre Khangtsen of Ganden and Ratö. That’s why he has a special relationship with all of the Nyagre Khangtsen. Traditionally Dagyab Kyabgön Rinpoche is known as the executive leader of all Nyagre Khangtsen.
Because of the historical connection and through the Buddhist activities of the ninth Kyabgön the Buddhist cultural association Chödzong is deeply connected with the Nyagre Khangtsen in India.
In 2001 and 2002 some members of Chödzong accompanied Dagyab Kyabgön Rinpoche to the monastery Drepung in Mundgod (South India). They were invited by the monks of Nyagre Khangtsen, who had visited Germany the year before to attend one of Rinpoche’s big inauguration series.