Monks visit Marshall, discuss Buddhism with students and faculty


Monks from the Tashi Kyil Monastery in Dehradun, India, pose for a photo with Marshall University faculty.

People from all over the world from different cultures walk the sidewalks on Marshall University’s campus, and this week was no different.

Seven monks from the Tashi Kyil Monastery in Dehradun, India, came to campus Tuesday to discuss Buddhism and Tibetan culture. The Department of Sociology and Anthropology sponsored the event with the College of Liberal Arts and Department of Religious Studies.

“We participated in the event they did two years ago, and we were able to get on their mailing list and they contacted us,” Marty Laubach, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, said. “They asked if we could help sponsor them to come to Huntington and as soon as I heard that they were going to do this we said that we wanted to participate as well and help co-sponsor them.”

The monks, some from India and others from Tibet, are on a tour in the United States to spread awareness of Buddhism, Tibetan culture, and to raise money for their monastery.

“I thought it would be a great thing for the university to have them come and talk about their experiences in Tibet, talk about Buddhism and talk about its changes, especially as refugees from Tibet,” Laubach said.

The monks gave those in attendance an idea of what life is like in Tibet.

“It opens their understanding of events that happen in the world. It opens their understandings of different religious communities, religions and the kinds of issues they have to face,” Laubach said. “It opens them up to the multiplicity of peoples and the experiences that you have, for example coming here and finding people who can’t speak English but yet have things they want to say.”

Since 2008, Tibet has been consumed by violence and revolts against the Chinese Government, according to BBC News. This unrest has caused Tibetan culture and Buddhism to be in danger of exile. Two of the monks are refugees from Tibet and now live in the monastery in India.

Lobsang Manjushri has been a monk in India for almost 19 years. He joined the monastery to learn about Buddhism and philosophy in the hope that he would be able to bring back those teachings to his home town in India.

“My story’s totally different from the other monks because I was born in an Indian family and my home town we don’t have any monks who can explain Buddhism in Hindi, the Indian language. There was also no monk who could explain to them in the Tibetan language and others,” Manjushri said. “My father told me now you go to monastery and learn about Buddhism and philosophy and then come back to our home town and explain.”

Manjushri is now on his second trip to the United States, which he said gives him the chance to share messages of the Buddhist teachings of love and compassion, Tibetan culture, and to raise funds for their monastery.

“We always say, ‘Help us to keep our culture safe, the Tibetan culture, and take a message of love and compassion to everyone,’” Manjushri said. “Every country is almost in war so we monks go around to college and university and carry the message of love and compassion for world peace.”

Their monastery also is in need of funds to support the monks who live there.

“We have 120 monks and we have been taking them, giving them education, health care, and rooms and food and everything,” Manjushri said. “It’s very hard to take care when you don’t have the funds so this is one of the reasons we visit. When we go back to the monastery, we are able to invite a better teacher, have better health care and rooms.”

The monks are traveling the United States for nine months and will return to India in April. While in Huntington they had the opportunity to not only talk to students and faculty at Marshall, but visit community members at the yoga studio, Studio 8.

For the Marshall community Laubach said he hopes meeting the monks taught students about the broader world.

“Going through this experience teaches people about the broader world and teaches the students here about broader cultures outside of Appalachia, outside of West Virginia,” Laubach said.

For more information about the monks, their tour of the United States or how to donate to their monastery, those interested may visit their website at

Meredith O’Bara can be contacted at [email protected]