Dongyu Gatsal Ling
Dongyu Gatsal Ling, the nunnery founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
“My feeling is that in the future well-trained nuns will have an increasingly important role to play in upholding the sacred Dharma and we are committed to helping this come about.”
~ Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
There are seventy five nuns living, studying and practising at DGL. The 6th intake of nuns was ordained recently. They are mainly from Darjeeling, Lahaul and Nepal. New nuns receive initial ordination from His Eminence the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche, our Spiritual Director. After a year they receive novice ordination from His Eminence Dorzong Rinpoche in the presence of senior monks from the Khampagar Monastery.
These nuns range in age from 12 to twenty five years. Many have had only basic schooling and occasionally some have received no education at all. The DGL Nuns initially enter a demanding six year programme and their achievements are a credit to their commitment and hard work.
Buddhist philosophy classes are taught by Khenpo Ngawang, a highly trained Tibetan monk teacher from Khampagar Monastic Institute In Tashi Jong. He is assisted by 2 senior qualified nuns from nunneries in South India. The nuns do debating which provides a valuable opportunity to consolidate and deepen understanding of the texts studied and is a powerful means to strengthen the nuns’ self-confidence.
Intensive Tibetan lanuage courses are the main focus of the first year. The acquisition of this language is vital, particularly for non-Tibetan speakers, enabling the nuns to fully participate in their philosophical education.
English courses at various levels are taught by a local experienced teacher. Proficiency in English will enable them to function in the modern world. In the future some will be involved in office management and maintaining international sponsorship.
Ritual and torma-making (ritual offerings) classes are given by senior monks from Khampagar Monastery who also train the nuns to play traditional ceremonial instruments..
A two month retreat is undertaken by the nuns each year in the monsoon season. Apart from ritual chanting the nuns maintain silence during the retreat. This balance of study and meditation allows intellectual knowledge to be incorporated with meditation experiences and realization.
Empowerments and teachings are given to the nuns H.E. 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche and H.E. Dorzong Rinpoche.
~ from “DGL: Now & the Future”
The Togdenma Lineage
In the days of the great yogi Milarepa, there were many male and female yogic practitioners called ‘Togden’ and ‘Togdenma’ (literally meaning ‘realised ones’) who chose to follow the ascetic path to enlightenment.
The Drukpa Kagyu lineage, which was founded in the twelfth century by the first Gyalwang Drukpa Tsangpa Gyare, was renowned for its highly accomplished yogis and yoginis. Out of compassion for the world, many practitioners adopted this austere path in order to accelerate the attainment of spiritual realization.
Unfortunately, this precious tradition was almost lost following the Cultural Revolution. Ironically these attempts to uproot Tibetan Buddhism forced it into the world at large and it has now returned to its birthplace in India and Nepal.
Khampagar Monastery in Eastern Tibet was famous for its monk Togdens and there were nunneries under Khampagar with highly reputed Togdenma. Despite not having formal scholastic education, these nuns were great practitioners. Whilst it was long thought that none survived the destruction of the nunneries, it seems that there is presently a revival taking place in remote areas of eastern Tibet.
DGL Nunnery has several nuns who already aspire to train as Togdenmas and are prepared to undertake the long, rigorous and austere practices which require many years in retreat, in order to attain enlightenment in one lifetime. Towards this aim, four nuns have already completed close to four years strict retreat and after a short break to receive further instruction and medical check ups have gone back into retreat for a further three years. The efforts Tenzin Palmo is making to re-introduce the precious Togdenma lineage to DGL Nunnery is strongly supported by the senior lamas of the Drukpa Kargyu Lineage.
~ from “DGL: The Togdenma Lineage”
For more on Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo & the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery, see: www.tenzinpalmo.com
Dongyu Gatsal Ling was Dharma Eye’s Featured Organization of the Month in February 2015.