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Rato Dratsang

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Title: Rato Dratsang  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 14th Dalai Lama, Kadam (Tibetan Buddhism), Tibetan Buddhism, Array of Jewels, Aro gTér
Collection: Buddhist Monasteries in India, Gelug Monasteries, Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and Temples in India
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Rato Dratsang

Rato Monastery
Monastery information
Location Currently in the Tibetan Settlement, Mundgod, Karnataka, India (before 1959 near Lhasa in Tibet)
Founded by Tak Pa Zang Bo
Founded 14th century
Type Tibetan Buddhist
Sect Gelug
Head Lama Currently is Ven. Khyongla Rato Rinpoche
Number of monks Previously 500, in 2014 over 120

Rato Dratsang, also known as Rato Monastery (sometimes spelled Ratö Monastery), is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" tradition. Rato was formerly one of the major monastic colleges in what used to be Tibet.

Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, the 5th Dalai Lama (1617–1682), called Rato Monastery "the Tiger nest". The monastery served as a center for the study of logic; monks from many other monasteries came to visit Rato every year to study logic intensively and debate rigorously.

After 1959, the monastery was reestablished in the Tibetan Settlement at Nicholas Vreeland, was appointed as the new abbot.[1]


Rato Monastery was founded in the 14th century by Tak Pa Zang Bo, on the outskirts of Lhasa.[2]

During the 17th century, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama called Rato "the Tiger Nest", commenting in verse:[2]

"In the heart of the dense forest of
Scriptural knowledge,
Lies the Tiger Nest sounding
The roar of the wisdom of logic.
May the study of logic to clear the minds,
Forever develop in the boundaries of the upper,
Middle, and lower parts of the land of snow."

Venerable Khyongla Rato Rinpoche studied at the original Rato Monastery when he was a young monk. In 1959, before the Tibetan diaspora started, there were about 500 monks at Rato.[2]

After the diaspora, in 1983 a small monastery was established in the Tibetan Settlement near Mungod comprising a temple, monks' room, and kitchen, all in a two-storey building on one quarter-acre of land. Over time, more land was acquired by being purchased from surrounding farmers. In 2008, a plan was devised for several much larger buildings, using local building materials and low-cost sustainable technologies.[3] As the money was raised, the buildings were gradually constructed.

By 2012, there were about 100 monks in the re-established Rato Monastery in South India. In May of 2012, the 14th Dalai Lama appointed Geshe Thupten Lhundup (Nicholas Vreeland) as the new abbot of the monastery, the first time a westerner has been appointed abbot of a major Tibetan Buddhist monastery.[2] Rato Dratsang is "one of a few important Tibetan Government monasteries under the patronage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama".[4][5]

The Rato Dratsang Foundation

In 2014, Khyongla Rato is Rato Monastery's head lama (spiritual teacher). A few years previously, he and Ven. Geshe Thupten Lhundup (Nicholas Vreeland), along with some of their friends, created a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation in order to "generate financial support for the monastery, establish scholarly affiliations with Western centers of higher education, provide for the translation and publication of important writings currently unavailable to English and Chinese speaking people, and establish a sister monastic college in the west."[2]


  1. ^ Religious News Services, 8 May 2012, Dalai Lama Appoints Ven. Nicholas Vreeland as Abbot of Rato Monastery in India - First Time Westerner Becomes Head of a Tibetan Monastery [1] Accessed 2014-6-1
  2. ^ a b c d e Rato Dratsang Foundation website [2] accessed 2014-6-3
  3. ^ Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates, Projects, Architecture, Rato Monastery, Mungud, The Re-establishment of Rato Dratsang [3] Accessed 2014-6-3
  4. ^ Tasveer Arts, Nicolas Vreeland - "Photos for Rato" [4] accessed 2014-6-3
  5. ^ Nicholas Vreeland [5] Accessed 2014-6-3

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