About Serkong Institute for Buddhist Studies

His Holiness the Dalai Lama shares two of his principal commitments. The first envisions an ethical view that is secular in nature and can be cultivated by people of all traditions. Through such training His Holiness seeks to promote human values that benefit society as a whole.

Another principal commitment involves imparting the wisdom necessary for individuals to become 21st century Buddhists, equipped with a deep understanding of Buddhadarma and comprehensive training. 

This institute aims to support His Holiness's second vision by providing an opportunity for those unable to commit to lengthy traditional study programs due to time constraints or language barriers.  Our goal is to equip participants with a profound understanding of essential Dharma principles, enabling them to actively contribute to the progress of Buddhism in the modern world.

Serkong Tsenshap Rinpoche

At the age of two, Serkong Tsenshap Rinpoche (1984 – present) pointed to the photo of the recently deceased Assistant Tutor of the 14th Dalai Lama and said, “That’s me!” When he was about three years old he was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the incarnation of Kyabje Tsenshap Serkong Tugse Rinpoche (1914-1983), who was one of the seven master debate partners to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Rinpoche began his Buddhist studies and training at Ganden Jangtse Monastery in South India. After deciding to continue his work for the Dharma as a lay person, he completed his education at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala. On the advice of the Dalai Lama, Rinpoche completed three years of intensive study of English in Canada.

Rinpoche teaches at Dharma Centers around the world, combining his experience of the study and practice of Buddhism with his acquaintance with the Western world. His fascinating teachings are full of wisdom, grace and humor. Rinpoche feels privileged to continue the responsibilities of Tsenshap Serkong Tugse Rinpoche to teach and benefit people as much as he can.

Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche 


Kyabje Tsenshap Serkong Tugse Rinpoche was born on July 27, 1914, in the area of Loka in southern Tibet. His father was one of the most outstanding masters of the previous century, the great Serkong Dorjechang, the incarnation of Marpa the translator, his mother the incarnation of Marpa’s wife Dagmema and Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche the incarnation of Marpa’s son Darmadodey.

Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche studied with masters from all the four major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and in 1948 was appointed as one of the seven Tsenshap or Master Debate Partners to His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche served His Holiness in this capacity for the rest of his life and imparted to His Holiness many lineages, initiations and oral transmissions. He accompanied His Holiness to China in 1954 and came in exile to India in 1959.

As a master of both sutra and all four classes of tantra, Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche traveled extensively throughout India and Nepal to give teachings and initiations and help the monasteries restart their rituals. He made five trips to Spiti, where, in the manner of Atisha, he reformed and revitalized the monasteries and the Buddhist tradition of that remote mountain region. He also made two tours of North America and Europe.

Taking on all obstacles to the welfare and works of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche passed away in full control and in accordance with his intentions, in the manner of the Buddha Shakyamuni, on August 20th, 1983 in Kyipar, Spiti, India. In memorial, His Holiness praised his former Master Debate Partner as a “real Kadampa Geshe”, someone who always remained humble in the truest sense.​

Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche​, one of the main teachers of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, was also Dr. Alexander Berzin’s principal teacher. His down-to-earth manner, practical approach and great sense of humor endeared him to both Tibetan and Western students alike. A master of all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, he combined the highest qualities of being a learned scholar, an accomplished practitioner, and a skillful, compassionate teacher. ​In “A Portrait of Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche​”, Dr. Berzin shares his personal memories of the nine years he spent as his close disciple, interpreter and English secretary.

Links to Learn More

An Interview with Serkong Rinpoche

Study Buddhism spoke with Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche II in a countryside garden near Hamburg on his recent tour in Europe

YouTube Channel (Tibetan)

Teachings in Tibetan

YouTube Channel (English)

Rinpoche's teachings on Shantideva's "A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life"

A Portrait of Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche

Rinpoche's Biography by Dr. Alexander Berzin. From the Study Buddhism site