Search
Close this search box.
Previous slide
Next slide

NEWS

Tibetan Nuns Project Targets Kora and Retreat Center for Buddhist Nuns of Shugsep Nunnery in Dharamsala

Tibetan Nuns Project founding director and special advisor Rinchen Khando Choegyal with young nuns at Shugsep Nunnery. 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, is planning to complete two major projects for the Buddhist nuns of Shugsep Nunnery near Dharamsala in northern India, aiming to provide a circumambulatory kora pathway for devotional walking and meditation, and a retreat center for the senior nuns.

Affiliated with the Nyingma tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, Shugsep Nunnery and Institute traces its Buddhist heritage and practices directly to Tibet and some of Tibet’s most influential female Vajrayana practitioners. In the 20th century, the original Shugsep Nunnery was home to the celebrated female master Shugsep Jetsun Rinpoche (1852–1953), one of the most illustrious female practitioners in Tibetan history and a recognized incarnation of the revered tantric yogini Machig Labdron (1055–1149).

Shugsep nuns clear overgrown land near the entrance to where the planned retreat center will be located. Image courtesy of the TNP

“A path inside the nunnery grounds will provide all of the nuns with safe, regular exercise, and allow them to practice kora, the act of walking around a sacred place, which is a form of pilgrimage and meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition,” the TNP said in an announcement shared with BDG. 

“The retreat center is a bigger project. To become fully qualified teachers, the senior nuns at Shugsep need a place where they can go on retreat and consolidate their learning. Because there are no retreat facilities at the nunnery, many nuns have been forced to go to Nepal or to the caves at Tso Pema to do retreats. They would like to be able to practice retreat together within Shugsep Nunnery, where they will have access to the effective guidance of a proper teacher as well as good basic amenities.”

Although the original Shugsep Nunnery in Tibet was destroyed in 1959 and the resident nuns forced to leave, the nunnery was re-established in India and officially inaugurated in December 2010. Along with Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Shugsep Nunnery and Institute was built and is completely supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project. Shugsep is now home to about 100 nuns, who have the opportunity to participate in a nine-year academic program of Buddhist philosophy, debate, Tibetan language and English.

“Until very recently, Tibetan Buddhist nuns had little opportunity to receive training in Buddhist practice and knowledge; nuns were considered to be second rank,” the TNP explained, noting that 49 nuns from Shugsep have now attained the lopon degree—equivalent to a master’s degree in Tibetan Buddhist studies.

Shugsep Nunnery and Institute held a historic graduation ceremony on 28 October 2022, in which pharchin, uma, and lopon nuns received their graduation certificates. Image courtesy of the TNP

“It is a historic achievement for nuns to reach this high academic level and to become teachers, leaders, and role models. Their success is even more remarkable given the many obstacles on their path,” the TNP emphasized. “Educating women and girls is a powerful way to change the world. It is only through education that women will rise and attain equal footing. For Tibetans, struggling to preserve their culture and religion in exile, this is even more critical.

“These senior nuns are now qualified to teach. Nine of the Lopons have taken on regular teaching responsibilities at Shugsep. They also teach yearly at Tashi Choling Nunnery in Arunachal Pradesh on a rotation basis,” noted the TNP. “The Lopons teach philosophy to the nuns at Shugsep, as well as teaching the youngest nuns reading, writing, basic Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, rituals, and the basics of debate. This gives them the groundwork they need before they merge into the mainstream Nyingma education which takes nine years to complete and receive the degree.”

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.

For information on ways to support the work of the Tibetan Nuns Project, click here

See more

Tibetan Nuns Project
Shugsep (Tibetan Nuns Project)

Related news reports from BDG

Tibetan Nuns Project Announces Completion of Courtyard Upgrades at Dolma Ling Nunnery
Tibetan Nuns Project Announces 10 New Geshema Graduates at Ceremony in Bodh Gaya
UPDATE: Tibetan Nuns Project Offers Progress Report on Dorjee Zong Buddhist Nunnery in Ladakh
Geshema Examinations for Tibetan Buddhist Nuns Begin in Dharamsala
Tibetan Nuns Project Leads Transformation at Dorjee Zong Buddhist Nunnery in Ladakh
Tibetan Nuns Project Announces Fundraising Success for Dolma Ling Nunnery
Tibetan Nuns Project Raises US$16,000 for the Higher Education of Buddhist Nuns
Bhutan Nuns Foundation Announces Opening of the Training & Resource Center for Buddhist Nuns
51 Tibetan Buddhist Nuns Take Geshema Exams
In Historic First, Two Tibetan Buddhist Nuns Hired to Teach Buddhist Philosophy
Dalai Lama Awards Historic Geshema Degrees to 20 Nuns
Twenty Tibetan Nuns Make History by Passing Geshema Degree
Annual Geshema Examinations Held in Dharamsala
Nuns in Dharamsala Participate in Winter Debate before the Dalai Lama

Related features from BDG

Buddhistdoor View: New Theravada Bhikkhuni Ordinations a Cause for Joy
Gelongma Dompa (dgeslongma’i sdom pa): The Blessing of Bhikshuni Ordination in Bhutan
My Journey Toward Sowa Rigpa – The Science of Healing
Ten Years of Empowering Female Monastics: Bhutan Nuns Foundation Extends Reach with New Training Center
Khenmo Konchog Nyima Drolma: Serving the Dharma and Sowing the Seeds of Monasticism in the West
Exclusive Interview: The 17th Karmapa and the Buddhist Nuns of the Tibetan tradition
Beauty and the Feminine Buddhist Spirit in Spiti

Related features from Buddhistdoor Global

Related news from Buddhistdoor Global

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments