Tibetan Nuns Project

Here are three films about the Tibetan Nuns Project, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and supporting nuns in India from all Tibetan Buddhist lineages. It supports nuns interested in study and higher ordination.

from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_Nuns_Project


Tibetan nunneries have historically been well established in Tibet, certainly from the 12th century and with traditions reaching back as far as the eighth century. Before the Chinese invasion in 1949, there were at least 818 nunneries and nearly 28,000 nuns living in Tibet. Traditional education in the nunneries included reading, writing, and lessons in ancient scriptures and prayers taught by the senior nuns or lamas from monasteries. Traditional activities for the nuns included performance of rituals requested by the lay community and crafts such as embroidery and sewing. Administrative and maintenance tasks were rotated so that all nuns gained experience in running the nunnery.

In recent years, due to the repressive conditions in Tibet, an influx of nuns have arrived to join the refugee communities in India and Nepal. Ranging in age from pre-teen to mid-eighties, these nuns come from all parts of Tibet and from many different backgrounds. Upon arrival in India, many nuns are suffering severely from the stresses of their long, arduous and often dangerous journeys of escape. Some have faced torture and imprisonment at the hands of the Chinese authorities in Tibet and are enduring immense physical and emotional pain. In most cases, the nuns arrive without money or possessions.

In the mid 80s, under the auspices of the Department of Religion and Culture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Women’s Association, the Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP) was established to assist the refugee nuns from Tibet as well as to improve the overall status and level of ordained Tibetan women. The main objectives of the project are to provide basic care for these women, and educate them in traditional values and philosophy, as well as the essential skills and knowledge needed to function in the modern world. The Tibetan Nuns Project also works to establish a role for ordained women as teachers and leaders comparable to that of monks.

The Tibetan Nuns Project works to:

  • Contribute to the preservation of Tibetan cultural and religious traditions.
  • Improve the health and living conditions of Tibetan nuns in exile.
  • Provide traditional as well as modern education for Tibetan women.
  • Provide highly educated female teachers to the Tibetan Buddhist community and the world at large.
  • Establish self-sufficient Buddhist nunneries.


Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, built and fully supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project, was the first institute dedicated specifically to higher education for Tibetan Buddhist nuns. It is open to nuns from all traditions. Upon graduation from a nineteen-year progam, the nuns will be thoroughly trained in their Buddhist tradition and will be eligible to receive a Geshe degree, equivalent to a Ph.D.

Shugsep Nunnery and Institute, of the Nyingma tradition, was also built and fully supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project, and traces its lineage back to some of the greatest female teachers in Tibetan Buddhism. Upon completion of a nine year academic program, nuns receive a Lopon degree equivalent to a M.A. and may then do research towards obtaining a Khenpo degree, equivalent to a Ph.D. in Tantric Philosophy. These nuns will then be able to give the full Nyingma teachings to other monks and nuns.

Geden Choeling Nunnery, of the Gelug tradition, is the oldest Dharamsala nunnery.

Karma Drubgyu Thargay Ling or Tilokpur Nunnery, of the Kagyu tradition, provides scriptural and ritual training and has a basic study program.

Sherap Choling, in Spiti, has 45 resident nuns who have begun a rigorous course of study, the first of its kind for women of that region.

Sakya Nuns Institute, in Mundawala near Dehradun, will offer the full course of studies followed by the monks at Sakya College.


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