Gyuto Order

For the Japanese knife, see Gyūtō.
View of university buildings from Gyuto Gompa in India
Inside main gompa (Gyuto, India)

Gyuto (also spelled Gyütö or Gyüto) Tantric University is one of the great monastic institutions of the Gelug Order.


Gyuto (Tibetan རྒྱུད་སྟོད་ , Wylie rGyud sTod) was founded in 1475 by Jetsun Kunga Dhondup and is one of the main tantric colleges of the Gelug tradition. In Tibet, monks who had completed their geshe studies would be invited to join Gyuto or Gyume, another tantric institution, to receive a firm grounding in vajrayana practice. Both of these monasteries used to be in Lhasa, Tibet, but they have been re-established in India. At the time of the Chinese invasion in 1950, about 1000 monks were part of the monastery. 60 Gyuto monks fled to India in 1959. After initially gathering in Dalhousie, India, the monastery was established in Tenzing Gang, in Arunachal Pradesh, India. The main monastery is now based in Sidhbara, near Dharamsala, India. Today, there are nearly 500 monks in the entire order. Ramoche Temple in Lhasa was located inside Gyuto Monastery.

The Gyuto monks are known for their tradition of overtone singing, also described as "chordal chanting" which is said to have been transmitted by their founder. It achieved renown in the West following the release of recordings made by David Lewiston in 1974 and in 1986 by Windham Hill Records.

In 1995, a group of Gyuto Monks travelled to the United States and performed during a series of concerts with the Grateful Dead.[1] Under the name "Gyüto Monks Tantric Choir", they appeared on the Mickey Hart/Planet Drum album Supralingua.

Gyuto monks in Australia

In 2003, a group of Gyuto monks performed at the wedding of Australian actress and singer Toni Collette. [2]

In 2008, the monks assisted in the preparations for the five-day visit of the Dalai Lama at the Dome in Sydney Olympic Park. As tantric masters, the monks play a very specific role in the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and thus were able to advise on, and carry out, the ritual requirements necessary for the Dalai Lama's program throughout the five days.

They created a full-size 2 metre sand mandala of Chenrezig (also known as Avalokiteśvara) in honour of the Dalai Lama, Buddha of Compassion himself and subject of the initiation ceremony.[3]

In December 2008, the Gyuto Monks held their Happiness Tour of Australia at Bondi Beach Pavilion with a program of activities[4] that included meditation, tantric art class and public talks.

In February 2009, the Gyuto monks performed a harmonic chanting ceremony at the Sydney premiere of the documentary Tibet: Murder in the Snow[5][6] at Chauvel Cinema,[7] Paddington, New South Wales.

In May 2009, the monks hosted early morning meditation sessions for attendees of the "Happiness and its Causes" conference in Sydney.

Chants: The Spirit of Tibet (2013)

In June 2013, The Gyuto Monks of Tibet announced their signing to Universal Music, the world’s biggest record company. Their forthcoming album, ‘Chants: The Spirit of Tibet’, will be produced by Youth, the bassist for the post-punk rock band Killing Joke, whose production and remix credits include Primal Scream, U2, Paul McCartney, Depeche Mode and The Verve.

Youth said of the music "The Monks exemplify, in their mystical chants, the essence of Tibetan Tantric Wisdom and the profound philosophy of the Dalai Lama. This is a musical system intentionally designed to alter your consciousness towards an illuminated and enlightened state."

In addition to this, The Orb – widely known as the inventors of "ambient house" from the late 1980s – are remixing the famous Buddhist "chordal chanting" which has become the Buddhist musical trademark. The recording is co-produced and mixed by Tim Bran whose production and mixing credits include The Verve, La Roux and Scissor Sisters. Due for release on the Decca Records label, the album is being recorded at the monastery in Dharamsala, a remote former British hill station in the foothills of the Himalayas. It combines the Gyuto monks' distinctive chanting and the finest Tibetan musicians with the aim of transporting the listener to another world.

Glastonbury 2013

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Tibetan Declaration of Independence, the Gyuto Monks of Tibet performed at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival on 27 June 2013 in the Green Fields. They also created a ceremonial sand mandala, a Tibetan Buddhist tradition of building a symbolic picture of the universe out of coloured sand which, on completion, is dissolved and returned to the waters of the earth.

Thupten Phuntsok of the Gyuto monks said: "We are honoured to be invited to take part in the world’s premiere music and performing arts festival, at the spiritual centre of the site."




  1. Grateful Dead Live at Shoreline Amphitheatre on 1995-06-02 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive. Retrieved on 2010-12-17.
  2. Australian Story – Road to Dharamshala. Retrieved on 2010-12-17.
  3. ~ Gyuto House, Australia – The Gyuto Monks of Tibet ~. (1999-09-22). Retrieved on 2010-12-17.
  4. Archived 8 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. Tibet: Murder In The Snow | Homepage. Retrieved on 2010-12-17.
  6. Tibet: Murder in the Snow (2008) (TV). (2009-05-01). Retrieved on 2010-12-17.
  7. Chauvel Cinema. Chauvel Cinema. Retrieved on 2010-12-17.
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Coordinates: 29°39′31″N 91°07′50″E / 29.6586°N 91.1306°E / 29.6586; 91.1306

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