Gelug, the Way of Virtue, is also known as the Yellow Hat sect. Its name is an abbreviation of “Ganden Lug”, meaning “Ganden Tradition”. It is a Sect of Tibetan religion founded by Tsongkhapa (1357-1419). The first Gelug pa monastery was established at Ganden, and Ganden Tripa became the head of Gelug pa. One of the most influential figures in society is the Dalai Lama, whose successive Dalai Lamas ruled Tibet from the mid-17th to mid-20th centuries.
The prime source for the studies of this tradition are the Six Scriptures written by Tsongkhapa as follows:
- The Great Exposition of the Stages of Path
- The Great Exposition of Tantras
- The Essence of Eloquence on Interpretive and Definitive Teachings
- The Praise of Relativity
- The Clear Exposition of Five Stages of Guhyasamaja
- The Golden Rosary
Tsongkhapa, the funder of Gelug school, was a great admirer of the Kadam school. He promoted the Kadam emphasis on the Mahayana principle of universal compassion as the fundamental spiritual orientation. This combination with the extensive writings on Madhyamaka and Nagarjuna’s philosophy of Śunyata , in many ways, marked a turning point in the history of philosophy in Tibet.
In 1577 Sonam Gyatso, who was considered to be the third incarnation of Gyalwa Gendun Drup, formed an alliance with the then most powerful Mongol leader, Altan Khan. As a result, Sonam Gyatso was designated as the 3rd Dalai Lama; “Dalai” is a translation into Mongolian of the name “Gyatso” ocean, and Gyalwa Gendün Drup and Gendun Gyatso were posthumously recognized as the 1st and 2nd Dalai Lamas.
The three vital centers of Gelug Pa are Ganden, Sera and Drepung Monasteries. The following below are Gelug major monasteries.