Founded by the First Dalai Lama in 1447, Tashi Lhunpo is one of the four great monasteries of the Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat) tradition, and is renowned for its scholarship in Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy and the Tantric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959 and the Cultural Revolution from 1966-80 wreaked destruction on the great monastic institutions, including Tashi Lhunpo, which lost many of the precious scriptures, statues and images. Of the 6,000 monks in the monastery, only 250 were able to follow the Dalai Lama into exile, and in 1972, under the patronage of the present Dalai Lama, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was re-established in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka.
Occupying a central position in the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe, the monastery is now home to 300 monks, and has once again regained its reputation as an important centre for learning and for the preservation of the culture and traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Panchen Lama is the spiritual leader of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama (depicted on the cover of the Monks' Wisdom and Insight album), was born on 25th April 1989. Having been recognised by HH the Dalai Lama as the true reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama when he was six years old, Gendun Choekyi Nyima and his family were taken from their home in central Tibet by the Chinese authorities. No access has been allowed to him since then.