Saturday, October 4, 2014

Women in Tibetan Buddhism

While in India this year I enjoyed learning about and studying with German nun Geshe Kelsang Wangmo. "In April 2011, Geshe Kelsang Wangmo made history by becoming the first female geshe, signaling a new era for nuns to excel scholastically and to take on important teaching roles that had traditionally been the domain of monks."

Big thanks to one of her students for sharing this recent story with me:

"When His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with the Emory Students & their Institute for Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) / Emory faculty, IBD asked Geshe Kelsang Wangmo to present her Ornament text to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After looking at it, His Holiness the Dalai Lama told Geshe Kelsang Wangmo that he wanted her to prepare a similar text for Chapter 2 of Dharmakirti's Commentary on [Dignaga's] Compendium on Valid Cognition.

In Germany, His Holiness the Dalai Lama found an occasion to ask Geshe Kelsang Wangmo to join the German translator as an assistant. He then announced to the monks and geshes and general audience that Venerable Kelsang Wangmo was the first female Geshe, that Lord Buddha, himself, had established Bihshuni so surely Geshe Kelsang Wangmo was in accordance with the Buddha's intent, and that soon there would be many more.

On the last day of the teachings, His Holiness just happened to quote Dignaga's opening stanza to his Compendium. As it is a rather obscure citation, Geshe Kelsang Wangmo was called upon, and since she had just been working on the Fall text, she was quite easily able to provide the translation."

Geshe Kelsang Wangmo on stage with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Germany. Photo from

Geshe Kelsang Wangmo on stage with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Germany. Photo provided by Tica.
For more on this please see article Dalai Lama Urges Introduction of Bhikshuni Vows into Tibetan Tradition.

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