With a rich history that spans many hundreds of years, Dzongsar Monastery is the birthplace of the Khyentse lineage. Founded in 746 by a Bonpo lama and adopted in 1275 by a Shakya master, it became the center of the nonsectarian Rimé movement in 1871. It was then that Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892), the great scholar and practitioner and founder of the Khyentse lineage, established the Dzongsar Khamje shedra (monastic college) on a plain just beneath the main monastery. Under the direction of Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893-1959), the original structure was expanded and the shedra became an important ecumenical center of learning, supporting the traditions of all schools of Buddhism.
In its golden age, the monastery incorporated 23 temples and many hermitages and retreat areas. The Rimé library of Jamgön Kongtrül, Chökyi Lingpa, and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo contained an extensive nonsectarian collection of texts that made it possible for monks and others to study all sects of Buddhism. Although the shedra was destroyed in the 1960s, at the behest of the late Panchen Lama and sponsored by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, a new facility was constructed in 1989.
The current curriculum of the shedra, implemented by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö in the mid 1900s, includes study of the tripitaka, the shastras, the tantras, and the sciences of poetry, astrology, and medicine. Dzongsar Monastery continues to play an important role within the Dergé community.