Linguistic studies

Namgyal Monastery is the personal monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and over the past centuries the monastery has been assisting in both spiritual and temporal activities of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The monks from Namgyal not only provide services for ritual activities, but they also serve in administration of the Tibetan Government. In Tibet, the Namgyal monks had the rank of a Government Secretary (Tse-Drung), and many of the monks had worked in the Tibetan Government offices at Potala Palace. Knowledge of Tibetan and English are important skills for Namgyal monks to carry out their duties.

The Study of Tibetan Language

In Exile, the Namgyal monks have been continuing their services and many of the monks are serving in the private office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The monks also have to handle the administration works of the monastery and therefore, by keeping in view the importance of Tibetan knowledge, the monastery provides five years of intensive courses on Tibetan Language in both writing and reading, apart from the monastery’s ritual curriculums for the young monk students.

The monastery has two different classes for the junior monk students, with daily classes in the morning. The elder monks have intensive courses on Tibetan Language during the three months summer retreat. We have two Tibetan teachers, Ven Lobsang Drakpa, a Geshe la from Gaden Monastery at South India who also teaches Buddhist philosophy, and Ven Thupten Yarphel, who is the monastery’s Tibetan secretary.

The monastery gives the Degree of Rigne Rabjampa, equivalent to the Master Degree of Tibetan Language, to those monk students who have successfully passed in the following Tibetan Language courses.

Courses are:

  • Tibetan Calligraphy
  • Tibetan Grammar
  • Tibetan Lexicography
  • Tibetan Poetry
  • Clear Explanation of Terms
  • Buddhist History
  • Letter Writing
  • Tibetan History

The Study of English Language

Namgyal Monastery provides study of modern English Language to the monk students, apart from the monastic ritual curriculums.

The study of English Language at the Monastery was started in year 1982 with the first volunteer English teacher, Mrs. Joyce from New Zealand. She had taught English for many of the monks for several years, followed by the volunteer teachers from Gap Foundation at England: Mr Mark Stevenson, Mr Tom, Mr Michael, Mr James, and Mr Nikhil. The monastery really appreciates each of these volunteer teachers for their great contributions.

We are fortunate to have a very good volunteer English teacher, Ms. Amanda Spencer, from England, who has been teaching for the last two years.

Knowledge of English is an important skill for the Namgyal monks, who often have to provide a helping hand to foreign visitors and tourists. Further, many monks are required to travel abroad as part of their duties to assist His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Additionally, as the second official language of India, a knowledge of English is extremely useful in everyday life and travel within India itself.

The junior monks have daily classes in English, studying all aspects of the language — speaking, reading and writing — using a textbook from England. There is a voluntary evening class for senior monks which meets three times a week. During the Summer Retreat senior monks follow a special curriculum of intensive study, and English classes are offered as an option during this time.

Read this page in: Tibetan