Debating Monks at The Jokhang also known as the Qoikang Monastery, Jokang, Jokhang Temple, Jokhang Monastery and Zuglagkang is a Buddhist temple in Lhasa.Tibet
Tibetans, in general, consider this temple as the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. The temple is currently maintained by the Gelung school, but they accept worshipers from all sects of Buddhism. The temple's architectural style is a mixture of Indian vihara, Tibetan and Nepalese design.
The debate among monks unfolds in the presence of their teachers, with a very well set rules of procedure for the defender and the questioners. The tradition of such debates is traced to the ancient ‘Hindu Orthodoxy’ in India and this practice permeated into Buddhist orthodoxy in Tibet in the eighth century.
Debates are punctuated with vigorous gestures which enliven the ambience of the occasion. Each gesture has a meaning. The debater presents his case with subtlety, robed in a formal monk’s attire. Some of the gestures (said to have symbolic value), made during the debates, generally subtle dramatic gestures are: clapping after each question; holding right hand and stretching left hand forward and striking the left palm with the right palm; clapping hands loudly to stress the power and decisiveness of the defender’s arguments denoting his self-assurance; in case of wrong answer presented by the defender, the opponent gestures three circles with his hand around the defenders head followed by loud screaming to unnerve the defender; opponent's mistake is demonstrated by wrapping his upper robe around his waist; loud clapping and intense verbal exchange is common; and the approach is to trap the defender into a wrong line of argument. Each time a new question is asked, the teacher strikes his outstretched left palm with his right palm. When a question is answered correctly, it is acknowledged by the teacher bringing the back of his right hand to his left palm.