The Geshe Tsulga

Non-Profit Corporation

for Sera Je House #2A Monks and Affiliates, inc.

Ven. Tsulga at Buxa Duar, West Bengal, India, after escaping from the Chinese invasion of Tibet.

A Brief History of the Organization 

by Bill Judge

Geshe Tsulga with Lama Zopa Rinpoche

It’s hard for me to believe that it was thirty years ago that I began this sponsorship program. For me it speaks to the power of the Dharma and of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s wisdom in asking Geshe Tsulga to come to the United States and teach.

Geshe Tsulga with Tim Judge at the Kadampa Center

Geshe Tsulga’s first months in this country were spent at the Kadampa Center in North Carolina, which is where I met him. Those early days were quite difficult, as his translator had not yet arrived. When he was shown where the food was, he waited for someone to come and cook. It was winter, cold and lifeless, and his thoughts turned to home. He wrote his teacher, requesting permission to return to India. Thankfully for us, his teacher told him no: “You must stay and finish what you have started.” There is a short video titled “Venerable Geshe Tsulga, A Single Day in a Lifetime of Practice” posted on Vimeo if you would like to know more about him.

In the fall of 1993, it was decided that I would accompany Geshe-la to India and Sera Jey Monastic University. At the time, I was seriously considering taking monastic vows, so for me this was a trip of discovering the possibilities.


We traveled from New Delhi to McLeod Ganj (Dharamsala) where I was able to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We made a pilgrimage to many places sacred to Buddhism, including Varanasi and Bodhgaya. Our pilgrimage then took us to our final destination, Sera Jey Monastery in Karnataka state, in the south of India.

Geshe La with Don Brown upon arriving in Raleigh NC

The original House 2

I have been told that I was one of the first Westerners to visit Sera. It wasn’t much more than 20 years old and was overcrowded. The main temple, which is now the library, could not hold all of the monks, so the courtyard was always full, regardless of the weather. There was no House #2A, only House #2. The few rooms at House #2 were crowded with many monks, sometimes six or eight to a room. There was only one bathroom, and the kitchen was not much more than a small room with a dirt floor. These were the days before Lama Zopa Rinpoche founded the food program, so meals were sparse.


Geshe Pema Tsering's room where I stayed on my first visit.
Geshe Tsulga, Geshe Shakya Sonam and Geshe Pema Tsering

Geshe Shakya Sonam, Geshe Pema Tsering and Geshe Tsulga were the primary teachers. They spoke of how in the early days of building the monastery, the land was covered by a jungle, and they had to clear it by hand, oftentimes crawling to cut the jungle from its roots. The danger of snakes, wild elephants and tigers was very real. They then had to do the work of construction, all while keeping up with their studies. Despite the hardships, they persevered in creating a new home for the study and practice of the Dharma. It is due to their sacrifices that we in the U.S. have been fortunate to receive the gift of this precious Dharma.

Sera Monastery Karnataka South India 1994

On that long ago visit, I realized the great need for financial support. We in the West have such abundance. I spoke with Geshe-la about beginning a sponsorship program, and he set forth the parameters. We would begin with a donation of six dollars a month for each recipient to be sponsored. In those the days, the dollar was very strong, and this small amount went a long way.

Even today, while an annual donation of $200 is a small amount, it is important to know that this small amount not only helps those that are sponsored tremendously, but through the kindness of your generosity, you are also creating very good karma for yourself.


With warm regards,

William Judge