Gelugpa, Gelug-pa

Tib., dGe-lugs-pa;: Virtuous Doctrine

The best known and most widespread among the many schools of the Tibetan tradition today.

The Gelugpa, sometimes simply referred to as the Yellow Hat school, are rooted in the Kadampa tradition and in that school's reformation under Tsongkapa (1357-1419), a teacher of Sakya background who preferred a strict, monastic discipline and who considred the Kadampa monks not yet virtuous enough.

Following the foundation of the 1st Gelugpa monastery (Ganden, Tib., Ri-bo dGa'-ldan) in 1409 by Tsongkapa, the Gelugpa strongly expanded during the 15th century, with the building of many more monastic strongholds:

Around 1475, a violent struggle for power broke out between the Gelugpa and the Phagmo Drupa and Karmapa divisions of the Kagyudpa. After the 3rd Dalai Lama went to seek outside help from the Mongols (1560) in order to establish Gelugpa rule, the opposition began to weaken. However, the actual consolidation of Gelugpa power came only during 1642-1659, under the fifth Dalai Lama. This included confiscation of non-Gelugpa monasteries and the burning of books that originated with the Jonangpa.

The Gelugpa emphasized the study of logic and philosophy - at the expense of direct, shamanic experience - and became the dominating force in Tibet, assuming both religious and secular leadership. The Gelugpa teachings are continued mainly through the lineage of the Dalai Lama and are still alive in Tibet, Nepal, Northern India and in many Western countries. In Gelugpa publications, one usually takes pains to point out that the school also absorbed - and thus represents - all major teachings of the other Vajrayana branches.

The 1st Dalai Lama, Gendun Drub, was a direct pupil of Tsongkapa.