Larung Gar, the World’s Largest Buddhist Institute

Larung Gar, the World’s Largest Buddhist Institute

Larung Gar is a sprawling Buddhist institute renowned for its spiritual significance and architectural splendor.

It is in the remote reaches of the Tibetan Plateau within the Sertar County of the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Sichuan Province.

Nestled amidst rugged mountain terrain, Larung Gar encompasses a vast area that spans across undulating hillsides.

Thousands of small, red-colored dwellings serve as residences for the institute’s population. At its peak, this population numbered in the tens of thousands, including monks, nuns, and lay practitioners.

Furthermore, the institute’s international community, hailing from regions such as Tibet, China, Mongolia, and other Asian countries.

Larung Gar, despite remoteness, attracts global pilgrims and scholars, symbolizing Tibetan Buddhism.

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Architecture of Dwellings in Larung Gar

The institute is composed of thousands of small, red-colored dwellings known as “khatas,” which dot the hillsides in a mesmerizing display of symmetry.

Additionally, these simple wooden structures serve as residences for the monks and nuns who call Larung Gar home.

Moreover, the layout of this place is meticulously organized, with narrow alleys winding between the khatas, leading to temples, classrooms, and meditation halls.

Serta Larung Five Science Buddhist Academy

The Serta Larung Five Science Buddhist Academy is a renowned institution actively engaged in teaching and practicing Buddhist principles.

Its curriculum covers five major sciences: Buddhist philosophy, logic, medicine, Sanskrit, and Buddhist rituals.

Monks and nuns at the academy actively participate in rigorous academic studies, engaging in debates, discussions, and contemplative practices.

The academy’s teachings aim to deepen students’ understanding of Buddhist philosophy and principles, while also emphasizing the practical application of these teachings in everyday life.

Students at the academy also receive training in traditional Tibetan medicine, Sanskrit language, and various rituals integral to Buddhist practice.

Moreover, the academy houses four significant spiritual institutions, including Ngarig Nangten Lobling, Pema Khandro Duling Nunnery, Lektso Charbeb Ling, and the International Religious Committee.

Forcefully Destroyed by the Government

In June 2016, Chinese authorities mandated a reduction in the resident population by half, limiting it to 5,000 individuals, with no more than 3,500 nuns and 1,500 monks permitted.

The Chinese government resumed Larung Gar demolitions in July 2016, ending its largest center status.

The reasons cited for these actions included overcrowding, safety concerns, and urban planning issues.

Thousands of dwellings, including monastic quarters and meditation huts, were demolished, displacing numerous residents.

Authorities cited safety concerns, regulation compliance for Larung Gar demolitions.

However, critics viewed the actions as an attempt to curb the influence of Tibetan Buddhism and exert control over religious institutions.

The demolitions proceeded despite protests and appeals from both domestic and international communities. They significantly altered the landscape of this place and disrupted the lives of its inhabitants.

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A Brief History of Larung Gar

In 1980, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, a revered Tibetan lama, founded Larung Gar, tracing its roots back to the late 20th century.

Larung Gar started with fewer than a dozen students constructing their dwellings near Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok’s retreat residence.

It then expanded as additional Tibetan Buddhist monastic and lay students from the Tibetan plateau joined.

Over the years, it rapidly expanded over the years under Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok’s guidance.

Despite facing challenges from Chinese authorities, including forced closures and demolitions, Larung Gar persevered.

It emerged as one of the largest and most influential Tibetan Buddhist centers in the world.