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Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen

   Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen

Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen is the resident teacher at Maitreya Instituut in Emst (Netherlands), where he teaches Buddhism since 1992.

Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen was born on June 4th 1941 in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. When he was six years old, he was ordained as a monk in the Ganden monastic university, which is one of the three largest monastic universities of the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The other two monastic universities are Drepung and Sera, close to Lhasa. In those times, each of these monasteries housed six to ten thousand monks who were studying the Buddhist teachings.

Besides them, there were thousands of other monasteries in Tibet where monks and nuns dedicated their life to the study and practice of the teachings of the Buddha.

In 1958, Geshela was chosen to take part in the philosophical debate at Ganden at the occasion of a visit by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen studied in Tibet until 1959, and fled for the Chinese occupiers to India. During the first years of his stay in India, he lived in a refugee camp in Buxaduar, where also Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche continued their studies.

Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen in front of the "old" building of the Tsawa Khamtsen on the left.
At the right, one can see a part of the new prayer hall of the Ganden monastery.
His Holiness  the Dalai Lama opened the prayer hall in December 2001.


After several years, the three monastic universities were founded again in the South of India, where in 1977, Geshela received the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest degree in philosophy that a Tibetan monk can achieve.

In 1975, Geshela obtained the degree of Acharya at the 'Sampurnand Sanskrit University" in Varanasi. He also won a first prize in a contest of literary compositions concerning the Madhyamika philosophy, which was held at the 'Tibetan Institute for Higher Studies' in Sarnath.

For five years from 1976 onwards, he was the chanting-master (umdze) of the Ganden Jangtse College and head of the school for young monks. Besides this, Geshela also studied Buddhist Tantra.In 1984 he became professor in Buddhist philosophy at the 'Central Institute for Buddhist Studies' in Leh, the capital of Ladakh (north-west India). In 1987 he published a book on the history and the rituals of the Ganden Jangste College of the Ganden monastic university. He visited Frankfurt, Germany several times to give lectures at the Goethe Instituut of the Frankfurt university and a group of German students.

At the request of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of the FPMT, Geshela came in July 1992 to the Maitreya Instituut in Emst, where he now is the resident teacher.

During the summer of 1996, Geshela returned temporarily to his monastery for his final tantric examination, and he received his certification as Geshe Ngarampa.

Geshela is a teacher with remarkable qualities for people who contact Buddhism for the first time, as well as for everyone who wishes to study the most complicated aspects of Buddhist philosophy and practices.

In 2001, after a return visit to Ganden monastery in India, Geshela decided to found the Dhonden Foundation in order to help Tibetans in need