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Tibetan Nuns Project Announces Initiative to Build Accommodation for Dolma Ling Buddhist Nunnery in Dharamsala

Members of the first group of 23 geshema nuns who had the opportunity to undertake Buddhist Tantric Studies. Image courtesy of the TNP

The Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP), a US-registered charity based in Seattle and in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India, has announced an appeal to fund the construction of residential accommodation and living facilities for the Buddhist nuns of Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in northern India.

In a fundraising announcement shared with BDG, the TNP said that they aimed to “build 16 rooms and facilities for geshemas at Dolma Ling Nunnery so that they can get the advanced studies required to become fully qualified teachers of their tradition.”

Inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2005, Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute of Buddhist Dialectics is located in Kangra Valley near Dharamsala in northern India. The nunnery was the first institute dedicated to higher Buddhist education for Tibetan Buddhist nuns from all traditions, and is fully funded by the TNP.

Some 250 nuns are fully engaged in study, practice, and nunnery work at Dolma Ling, as well as organizing self-sufficiency projects, such as tofu-making and producing handicrafts. In 2013, 10 of the Dolma Ling nuns made history when they took part in the first-year geshema examinations.*

“To solve the housing shortage for the geshemas doing Tantric Studies, we would like to construct 16 rooms along with bathrooms, kitchen and dining facilities, and a study hall,” the TNP explained. “These 16 rooms and facilities will be on the third floor of the Yangchen Lophel Center at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. These rooms will house geshemas from nunneries all over India and Nepal so that they can undertake the final year of advanced education available to them at Gyuto Tantric University.” (Tibetan Nuns Project)

The geshema degree is the highest academic degree in Gelugpa tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism and was only recently made available to Buddhist nuns.* Like the geshe degree for male monastics, it is roughly equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhist studies. The rigorous exams take four years to complete, with one set held each year. As of November 2022, 54 Buddhist nuns have earned this degree. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, geshema examinations were cancelled in 2020 and 2021, and resumed in 2022.** In 2023, 2023 a record 132 Tibetan Buddhist nuns from seven educational institutes in India and Nepal took part.***

Image courtesy of the TNP
Image courtesy of the TNP

“The 16 rooms can either be used as single-bed study rooms or, if the groups of geshema graduates become larger, for two nuns per room,” the TNP noted. “Now that it is possible for nuns to get the highest degrees, nuns from nunneries all over India and Nepal are studying to be geshemas. We hope that more nuns will take the four-year exams and qualify as geshemas, but it is difficult to predict how many graduates there will be each year so the facility must be as flexible as possible. We also hope that the Geshema Organizing Committee’s office can be moved into this facility to free up the room they are now using in Dolma Ling Nunnery.” (Tibetan Nuns Project)

The Tibetan Nuns Project provides education and humanitarian aid to refugee nuns from Tibet and Himalayan regions of India. Established under the auspices of the Tibetan Women’s Association and the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration, the TNP supports hundreds of nuns from all Tibetan Buddhist lineages and seven nunneries. Many of the nuns are refugees from Tibet, but the organization also reaches out to the Himalayan border areas of India, where women and girls have little access to education and religious training.

“Since 2018, the geshemas have been housed and fed at Dolma Ling, traveling daily by jeep to Gyuto Tantric University for their studies,” the TNP said. “These arrangements are currently funded by the Tibetan Nuns Project under the Geshema Tantric Education Fund. 

“Although there are many advantages for the geshemas with this arrangement, it is placing a big strain placed on Dolma Ling to accommodate them. It also restricts the number of new nuns who can be admitted to Dolma Ling. Space must be available for young nuns to join Dolma Ling to give the nunnery fresh input each year.” (Tibetan Nuns Project)

Click here for information about this project and how to support it

“Your support ripples out and has a positive effect on humanity,” the TNP stressed. “Although in many places the rights of women and girls are diminishing, you are helping to usher in a new era for Tibetan women.”

Dalai Lama Awards Historic Geshema Degrees to 20 Nuns  (BDG) and Twenty Tibetan Nuns Make History by Passing Geshema Degree (BDG)

** Tibetan Nuns Project Announces 10 New Geshema Graduates at Ceremony in Bodh Gaya (BDG)

*** Tibetan Nuns Project Announces a Record Number of Buddhist Nuns Taking Geshema Examinations in Dharamsala This Year

See more

Tibetan Nuns Project
Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute (Tibetan Nuns Project)

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