Of course they are. They can do what they want.

Despite criticisms to the contrary, there is no injunction within the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) — in the Internal Rules, the NKT books, by word of mouth, or elsewhere — against students reading non-NKT books. Geshe Kelsang’s commentaries to Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings form the basis of the three NKT study programs (the General Program, Foundation Program and Teacher Training Program, see Internal Rule 15); but outside of their studies NKT students can and do read whatever they wish. Everyone has freedom to do as they choose.

One statement has been taken out of context and exaggerated on various chat groups and forums. Thirty-five years ago an NKT Resident Teacher taught his students in a class: “You should not read books other than Geshe Kelsang’s books.” This teacher’s motivation was to help the students to pass their examination by preventing distractions arising from reading other books. However, this has never been an NKT rule or even suggestion.


Why do NKT students only study Geshe Kelsang’s books?

To respond to the related claim that NKT students study only Geshe Kelsang’s texts and therefore not those of other great Buddhist masters, this claim is very misleading. NKT students have access to a very full and complete Buddhist education, which includes studies of many of the great Buddhist masters.

The Teacher Training Program (TTP) comprises twelve subjects based on Buddha’s Sutra and Tantra teachings and the corresponding commentaries by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. 

TTP students are encouraged to study and memorize the various root texts by previous Buddhist Masters, including:

Lamrim (Stages of the Path) outlines based closely on Je Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chemo, or Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.

Geshe Langri Tangpa’s Eight Verses of Training the Mind.

Geshe Chekhawa’s Training the Mind in Seven Points.

Buddha Shakyamuni’s Heart Sutra (Essence of Wisdom Sutra).

Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.

Lorig (Mind and Cognition) outlines based closely on Dharmakirti’s Commentary to Valid Cognition.

Chandrakirti’s Guide to the Middle Way.

Buddha Shakyamuni’s The Bodhisattva’s Confession of Moral Downfalls.

The First Panchen Lama’s Offering to the Spiritual Guide.

Je Phabongkhapa’s Vajrayogini Sadhana, Quick Path to Great Bliss.

Tantric grounds and paths outlines based closely on Je Tsongkhapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of Secret Mantra.

The Heruka Sadhana, Essence of Vajrayana, based closely on the system of Mahasiddha Ghantapa.


Foundation Program (FP) students study and memorize the first six of these texts.


There are also other texts practiced by NKT students which are not part of the TTP or FP, such as:

Je Tsongkhapa’s Three Principal Aspects of the Path.

Atisha’s Advice from Atisha’s Heart.

Buddha Shakyamuni’s Praises to the 21 Taras.

Numerous sadhanas or prayer booklets composed by Buddha Shakyamuni and other past Buddhist masters.

See also The books of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and Why does the New Kadampa Tradition sell only Ven Geshe Kelsang’s books?