The Sera Monastery is the last of the three principal Yellow Sect monasteries built in Lhasa. The setting itself is very beautiful with cobbled alleyways, temples and colleges. The highlight of visiting Sera Monastery will be watching monks debating inside the shady courtyard behind the main temple. Every day, hundreds of red-robed monks assemble in small groups and practice their debating skills.
Founded in 1419 by Sakya Yeshe, a disciple of Tsong Khapa, Sera Monastery is one of the great three Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet. The original Sera Monastery was in Lhasa, about 5 km north of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. Sera Monastery once housed more than 5,000 monks in 1959. Although badly damaged, it is still standing and has been largely repaired. It now houses a few hundred Buddhist monks.
The highlight of visiting in Sera Monastery will be watching a monks debating inside the shady courtyard behind the main temple. Every day, hundreds of red-robed monks assemble in small groups and practice their debating skills. It is a highly entertaining spectacle, during which they strike poses not dissimilar to hip hop rappers. They are clap, turn, and finger point, whoop, holler, and throw their prayer beads about. In most cases, one monk sits on the floor, while another one stands, and between them, they argue about Buddhist rituals - immensely enjoying their debates. As tourists you are allowed to walk around the edge and observe the very dynamic and animated monks asking and answering questions like ‘why', ‘what came first the chicken or the egg' and ‘who is your favorite Buddha'. The spectacle is just so fun-filled and high energy. It's a bit like a Sicilian market place, or a football match, increasing in volume all the time, and some of the monks are really good showmen, sometimes mischievously involving you in their debates, as if trying to get you onto their side.