|Wylie transliteration:||dge lugs pa|
|pronunciation in IPA:||[ɡèluʔ]|
|official transcription (PRC):||Gêlug|
Part of a seriesTibetan Buddhism
|Practices and attainment|
The Gelug or Gelug-pa (or dGe Lugs Pa, dge-lugs-pa, or Dgelugspa), also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader. The first monastery he established was at Ganden, and to this day the Ganden Tripa is the nominal head of the school, though its most influential figure is the Dalai Lama. Allying themselves with the Mongols as a powerful patron, the Gelug emerged as the pre-eminent Buddhist school in Tibet since the end of the 16th century.
Origins and development 
The Gelu-school was founded by Je Tsongkhapa. A great admirer of the Kadampa (Bka'-gdams-pa) teachings, Tsongkhapa was a promoter of the Kadam School's emphasis on the Mahayana principle of universal compassion as the fundamental spiritual orientation. He combined this with a novel interpretation of Madhyamaka containing uncommon features not found elsewhere.
Tsongkhapa said that these two aspects of the spiritual path, compassion and insight into wisdom, must be rooted in a wholehearted wish for liberation impelled by a genuine sense of renunciation. He called these the "Three Principal Aspects of the Path", and asserted that it is on the basis of these three that one must embark on the profound path of vajrayāna Buddhism.
Establishment of the Dalai Lamas 
In 1577 Sonam Gyatso, who was considered to be the third incarnation of Gyalwa Gendün Drup, formed an alliance with the then most powerful Mongol leader, Altan Khan. As a result, Sonam Gyatso was designated as "Dalai" (a translation into Mongolian of the name Gyatso, meaning ocean), and Gyalwa Gendün Drup and Gendun Gyatso were posthumously recognized as the 1st and 2nd Dalai Lamas.
Sonam Gyatso was very active in proselytizing among the Mongols, and the Gelug tradition was to become the main spiritual orientations of the Mongols in the ensuing centuries. This brought the Gelugpas powerful patrons who were to propel them to pre-eminence in Tibet. The Gelug-Mongol alliance was further strengthened as after Sonam Gyatso's death, his incarnation was found to be Altan Khan's great-grandson.
Emergence as dominant school 
By the end of the 16th century, following violent strife among the sects of Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelug school emerged as the dominant one. According to Tibetan historian Samten Karmay, Sonam Chophel (1595-1657), treasurer of the Ganden Palace, was the prime architect of the Gelug's rise to political power. Later he received the title Desi [Wylie: sde-sris], meaning "Regent", which he would earn through his efforts to establish Gelugpa power.
Lamrim and Sunyata 
The central teachings of the Gelug School are the Stages of the Path (lamrim), based on the teachings of the Indian master Atiśa (c. 11th century), and the systematic cultivation of the view of emptiness.
Vajrayāna Practice 
This is combined with the yogas of highest yoga tantra deities such as Guhyasamāja, Cakrasaṃvara, Yamāntaka and Kālacakra, where the key focus is the direct experience of the indivisible union of bliss and emptiness.
Guhyasamāja is the principal one. As the Dalai Lama remarks,
There is a saying in the Gelug, 'If one is on the move it is Guhyasamāja. If one is still, it is Guhyasamāja. If one is meditating, it should be upon Guhyasamāja.' Therefore, whether one is engaged in study or practice, Guhyasamāja should be one's focus."
The Gelug school focuses on ethics and monastic discipline of the vinaya as the central plank of spiritual practice. In particular, the need to pursue spiritual practice in a graded, sequential manner is emphasized. Arguably, Gelug is the only school of vajrayāna Buddhism that prescribes monastic ordination as a necessary qualification and basis in its teachers (lamas / gurus). Lay people are usually not permitted to give initiations if there are teachers with monastic vows within close proximity.
Six commentaries by Tsongkhapa are the prime source for the studies of the Gelug tradition, as follows:
- The Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path (Lam-rim chen-mo)
- The Great Exposition of Tantras (sNgag-rim chenmo)
- The Essence of Eloquence on the Interpretive and Definitive Teachings (Drnng-nges legs-bshad snying-po)
- The Praise of Relativity (rTen-'brel bstodpa)
- The Clear Exposition of the Five Stages of Guhyasamāja (gSang-'dus rim-lnga gsal-sgron) and
- The Golden Rosary (gSer-phreng)
Each Gelug monastery uses its own set of commentarial texts by different authors, known as monastic manuals (Tib. yigcha). The teachings of Tsongkhapa are seen as a protection against developing misconceptions in understanding and practice of mahāyāna and vajrayāna Buddhism. It is said that his true followers take The Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path as their heart teaching.
Monasteries and Lineage Holders 
Tsongkhapa founded the monastery of Ganden in 1409 as his main seat.
Labrang Monastery, in Xiahe County in Gansu province (and in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo), was founded in 1709 by the first Jamyang Zhaypa, Ngawang Tsondru. Many Gelug monasteries were built throughout Tibet as well as in China and Mongolia.
Lineage holders 
Tsongkhapa had many students, his two main disciples being Gyaltsab Je (1364–1431) and Khedrub Je (1385–1438). Other outstanding disciples were Togden Jampal Gyatso, Jamyang Choje, Jamchenpa Sherap Senge and Gyalwa Gendün Drup, the 'first' Dalai Lama (1391–1474).
After Tsongkhapa's passing, his teachings were held and spread by Gyaltsab Je and Khedrub Je who were his successors as abbots of Ganden monastery. The lineage is still held by the Ganden Tripas – the throne-holders of Ganden Monastery – among whom the present holder is Thubten Nyima Lungtok Tenzin Norbu, the 102nd Ganden Tripa (and not, as often misunderstood, by the Dalai Lama).
Among the main lineage holders of the Gelug are:
- The successive incarnations of the Dalai Lama (also commonly referred to as 'Gyalwa Rinpoche')
- The succession of the Panchen Lama, the Chagkya Dorje Chang, Ngachen Könchok Gyaltsen, Kyishö Tulku Tenzin Thrinly, Jamyang Shepa, Phurchok Jampa Rinpoche, Jamyang Dewe Dorje, Takphu Rinpoche, Khachen Yeshe Gyaltsen
- Successive incarnations of Kyabje Yongzin Ling Rinpoche
- Successive incarnations of Kyabje Yongzin Trijang Rinpoche
Mekong Valley 
Scottish Botanist George Forrest, who witnessed the 1905 Tibetan Rebellion led by the Gelug Lamas, wrote that the majority of the people in the Mekong valley in Yunnan were Tibetan. According to his accounts, the Gelugpas were the dominant power in the region, with their Lamas effectively governing the area. Forrest accused them of using "force and fraud" to "terrorise the... peasantry".
See also 
- Jinpa, Thupten. Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy. Routledge 2002, page 17-18.
- Brunnholzl, Karl. The Center of the Sunlit Sky. Snow Lion Publications. 2004, pg. 17.
- McKay 2003, p. 18.
- McKay 2003, p. 19.
- also Sonam Choephel or Sonam Rabten
- Samten G. Karmay, The Great Fifth
- Speech to the Second Gelug Conference by the Dalai Lama (06-12-2000), retrieved 03-23-2010).
- Short 2004, p. 108.
- The Ri-Me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great: A Study of the Buddhist Lineages of Tibet by Ringu Tulku, ISBN 1-59030-286-9, Shambhala Publications
- Ringu Tulku: The Rimé (Ris-med) movement of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great Paper given on 7th Conference of International Association For Tibetan Studies in June 1995
- McKay, A. (editor) (2003), History of Tibet, RoutledgeCurzon, ISBN 0-7007-1508-8
- Short, Philip S. (2004), In pursuit of plants: experiences of nineteenth & early twentieth century plant collectors, Timber Press, ISBN 0-88192-635-3
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