In 1993, the institute’s then-secretary, Geshe Dawa Jigmet, went to Ladakh to check on land donated by the people of Saboo Village, where Geshe Dawa was born. This donation made it possible for the monks to register the land under the name of Ngari Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, in accordance with Jammu and Kashmir state law. The name came from the Ngari House of Sera Jey Monastery, where the Ladakhi alumni were enrolled. Geshe Chowang took responsibility for the project’s site after the society was registered.
To save the property for future purposes, the then-president registered the land under the name of Ngari Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, in accordance with state law. The name came from the Ngari House of Sera Jey Monastery, where the Ladakhi students were enrolled. Geshe Chowang took responsibility for the project’s site after the society was registered under Jammu & Kashmir State law. Since the passing away of Geshe Dawa Jigmet in a tragic road accident, the institute now has modest quarters for the monks who are furthering the project, and other buildings are being built.
In 2007 Geshe Tsewang Dorje was invited to take full responsibility for this project. (A “geshe” is like professor; it is the degree available within Buddhist monastic education, and Geshe Tsewang is a lharampa geshe, meaning he has earned the highest level of the geshe degree.) Geshe-la eagerly accepted the position and began to gather resources to start the construction of the girls’ and boys’ hostels, the library, and the primary classroom building. Classes are now in session. In order to tell people about this project, Geshe-la has toured Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America, and he is very thankful for the help given to the children of the Ngari Institute. In the future, it may be possible to arrange more activities, including cultural performances of Ladakhi folk culture and Buddhist performances such as the monk dances.
In 2010 Geshe-la appointed a group to search for children who would otherwise miss educational opportunities, especially orphans and extremely poor children in the Changthang area, which runs between Tibet and Ladakh. These children are able to receive a modern education without having to lose the chance to learn about Tibetan Buddhism. If modernization wipes out cultural traditions, the benefits and losses cancel each other out, but the Ngari Institute is developing a form of modern education that does not discredit or subvert cultural heritage. This project was endorsed by the Office of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in September 2008, and His Holiness inaugurated the campus in 2016.
In 2011, the first set of 25 students enrolled at the institute; by 2018, 60 students were enrolled. Four types of children live at the institute: orphans; children from poor, single-parent families; children from large families whose parents cannot take care of all the children in the family; and children whose families cannot afford to educate all the children in the family. Several young monks also live there and receive both a traditional and modern education. The children go to one of three local schools (Siddhartha School, SOS Tibetan Children’s Village School, or the local public school). Students follow the standard government educational curriculum during the day and learn about Tibetan culture and spirituality during after-school hours. The institute provides room, board, tuition fees, book and clothing allowances, transportation to school, and access to medical care. The monks’ goal is not to produce doctors, teachers, or other professionals, but to produce good people who live a positive way of life.
At present the educational coordinators are
- Geshe Tsewang Dorje (PhD, Sera Jey Monastery), President
- Geshe Lobsang Thinley (PhD, Sera Jey Monastery), Vice President
- Ven. Dr. Ngawang Yeshi (PhD, Sarnath), Secretary
- Ven. Shastri Kunsang Namgyal (Shastre, Sarnath), Accountant
- Ven. Ngawang Gyatso (Government Teacher), Member