Smear: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a 'self-styled Geshe'
Truth: In the colophon to Geshe Kelsang's long life prayer written by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche himself (available from Tharpa Publications free of charge), it says:
"This brief prayer for the long life of the Tsang-pa Geshe, Kelsang Gyatso, of Sera-Je Monastery, who is endowed with great learning and immaculate pure conduct, was composed by Yongdzin Trijang Dorjechang at the request of the community at Manjushri Centre, England."
In the foreword to Geshe Kelsang’s book Meaningful to Behold, Venerable Trijang Rinpoche says:
The excellent expounder, the great Spiritual Master Kelsang Gyatso, who studied myriad Buddhist scriptures at the famous Je College of the great monastic university of Sera Tegchen Ling, practised the meaning of the teachings he received, and became a wise, serious and realized Teacher.
“My true situation is that in Tibet I studied Geshe training for many years in my local monastery called Jampa Ling and Tashi Lhunpo university and I passed two examinations. One examination was in memorization and the other was the actual examination. Soon after that, people would publicly call me “Geshe”.
Later in Tibet I joined Sera Je monastery and I studied Geshe training further. In India I mainly emphasized retreat for meditation purposes. When I was living on a high mountain called Dalhousie I received a letter from Sera Je monastery. The letter encouraged me to go to Sera for an examination. Because I had heard that the method or system for examinations was newly created, I did not accept this new system.
However, in 1973 I did my Geshe Ceremony in Sera Je monastery, making extensive offerings to thousands of monks; and I received a special traditional khatag (white scarf) indicating that I am a Geshe.
Generally for anyone to become a real Geshe it is not necessary that the Dalai Lamas recognize them as a Geshe. Before the Dalai Lamas, so many pure and real Geshes appeared such as Geshe Potowa, Geshe Jayulwa, Geshe Langri Tangpa, Geshe Sharawa, Geshe Chekawa and so forth. These Kadampa Geshes have no connection with the Dalai Lama. I have no connection with the Dalai Lama but I still believe that I am a Geshe.
Please give a copy of this information to people if they request it. Thank you.”
Geshe Kelsang's qualities are extolled in the prefaces of some of his books by high Lamas, including Venerable Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche, who were the lineage holders of the Gelugpa tradition.
In the foreword to Geshe Kelsang's book, Clear Light of Bliss, Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche says:
This excellent commentary on the joyous Mahamudra
Derived from churning the essence of the ocean of Tantric scriptures
That arose from the heart of this most precious Spiritual Guide
Is published with a pure wish to benefit migrators.
In the prayer he composed "for the long life of the Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso", Trijang Rinpoche says:
You who are skilled in the wisdom that unties the sealed knots
Of the profound meaning of the Sutras and Tantras of the Fourth Deliverer of this fortunate aeon,
Who possess an abundance of good qualities like a thousand-petalled lotus,
O peerless, great Spiritual Guide, may you live for a very long time.
The holy Dharma, a treasury of jewels that is difficult to find for many aeons,
Is borne forth on the chariot of your excellent, superior intention;
O Protector who destroy the samsaric miseries of vast numbers of disciples,
Great Knowledge Hero arisen from an ocean (of wisdom), may you live for a very long time.
In his foreword to Geshe Kelsang's Buddhism in the Tibetan Tradition, published by Routledge and Kegan Paul in 1984, even the 14th Dalai Lama addressed Geshe Kelsang Gyatso by his correct title.
"Very often people who are interested in studying Tibetan Buddhism are dissuaded from doing so because they cannot always find books that are written in a way that they can easily follow... I am therefore happy that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has attempted to present the basic teachings of Lord Buddha in a manner that people can relate to and put them into practice in their daily lives. I would like to thank the translator and editors for their efforts." H.H. The Dalai Lama (signed and sealed).