Situated a few kilometers outside Lhasa, Sera monastery is one of the three great monasteries of the Gelugpa sect. The other two are the Ganden and Drepung monasteries. Legend has it that Sera monastery was surrounded by wild roses, and that is the origin of its name (se ra = wild roses in Tibetan).
Sera Monastery was founded in 1419, by Jamchen Chojey (Sakya Yeshe), a disciple of Tsong Khapa. In the past, it had several colleges:
- Sera Mey Dratsang, built in 1419, gave basic instruction to the monks
- Sera Jey Dratsang, built in 1435, was the largest, and was reserved for wandering monks, especially Mongolian Buddhist monks
- Ngagpa Dratsang, built in 1559, was a school for the teaching of the Gelukpa tantras
Sera monastery used to house more than 5,000 monks till 1959. Today, the monastery has been reconstructed and restored but the number of monks has decreased. In 2008, the monastery housed 550 Buddhist monks, but that number has dropped to a few hundred today.
Source: This synopsis of the history of Sera monastery, and the photos of Sera, were sourced from Wikipedia.org under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Read a more detailed history of Sera monastery at Wikipedia.org.