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15 July 2007

Treasures of Tibetan Monks Debates in Himalayan

Some people might think the formal part of debating based on the winning of the battle. But Himalayan replies with its own Tradition. From thousands of years Tibet has always offered us so many mysteries and drew the attentions for its secrecy.

Recently in a rare occasion in Tibetan community, Buddhist monks and nuns took part in an interschool Tibetan Debate Competition organised by Srongtsen Brikuti Boarding High School (SBBHS) in Nepal. .

The motion‘Character is more important than Education’.

The debate competition is part of the series of year-long events being organised by the Srongtsen School to mark its 25th founding anniversary.

All together five teams participated in the debating event. Although the monks and nuns of Kopan did not succeed in securing the winning positions, this could well be one of the rare cases where monastic and nunnery educational institutions has participated in an interactive debating event with modern educational institutions.

Srongtsen Bhrikuti School, one of the most prominenet Tibetan schools in Katmandu valley in Nepal will be organizing First Tibetan English debate competition this coming August.

The Physicality of Tibetan Traditional Debates
According to the Tibetan Monks, Debating is their integral part of religious practice. One of the striking features of Tibetan debates is that they are quite physical. They are marked by emphatic gestures, such as the clapping used by the questioner to punctuate each question.

Tibetan debate involves prescribed modes of behavior. The debate starts, with a ritual invocation of Manjushri in a loud and high-pitched tone. The debater then puts his questions in a very low voice barely audible to the audience.
The Tibetan tradition is quite aware of the dangers of debate but sees them as counterbalanced by its benefits. Because debates are intensely physical, participants can give vent to considerable energy.

Tibetan scholars love debate for their internal clarity. They become excited when they talk about it and miss it once their training is finished. Older scholars often advise students to savor their times as debaters: “This is the best time in the life of a scholar. After this, all fades in comparison.”

I am not sure what to make of this last comment, for its description, its also captures the essence of good sporting competitions. But it does convey the overall atmosphere of debates, which are veritable intellectual sports.

Some You TubeTibetan Traditional Debating Video Links

Tibet: Debate with the eye of an Explorer
Tibetan Monks Debate in Dharamsala
Monks Debate: Lhasa,Tibet
Courtyard debate in Tibet

"Isn’t it great to have all these people displaying such engagement and even aggression within such a peaceful atmosphere?"

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