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A few miles west of Lhasa, just above the village of Denbak or Dampa, which is now just a suburb of the city, lies Drepung (lit. “pile of rice”), which was during the last century the largest monastery in the world. Although this monastery has by now gone through difficult times, it is still an important institution, with majestic buildings in a grandiose site. Lying at the foot of dge ’phelMountain, the highest point in the lha saValley, Drepung offers an impressive sight with its hundreds of large buildings nestled in an impressive mountainous surrounding. It is one of the most important religious institutions in Tibet and hence its study offers a great avenue to penetrate Tibetan civilization, its religion, politics, economy, and culture. For in Drepung, all these aspects of traditional Tibetan life, which are often thought to exist apart, come together.

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George Dreyfus 2008

In the following essays, Dreyfus provides us with a wonderful introduction to the Tibetan monastic educational system, discussing such topics as memorization, commentary, the educational curriculum, the theory and practice of debate, the schedule of monastic educational institutions, and finally the different geshé degrees awarded.1 Dreyfus’s years of experience as a scholastic monk in the Geluk tradition make his account detailed and accurate. At the same time, his first-hand familiarity with the tradition shines through in every section.