(TibetanReview.net, Jul17, 2016) – For the first time in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan nuns will be conferred the ‘Geshema’ degree, the equivalent of the ‘Geshe’ degree for monks in the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The exile Tibetan administration’s Department of Religion and Culture has announced that all 20 candidates for the degree had passed their rigorous 17-year course, four-year exams and will be conferred the degree by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at a special ceremony at Drepung Monastery in the Mundgod Tibetan settlement in Karnataka state, India.
Their success fulfils a longstanding wish of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and marks a new chapter in the development of education for ordained Buddhist women and is a major accomplishment for Tibetan women, said US-based Tibetan Nuns Project which supports seven nunneries in India, including the Dolmaling near Dharamshala.
The project was founded in 1987 to provide education and humanitarian aid to Tibetan Buddhist nuns living in India. A number of the Geshema candidates were stated to be illiterate when they escaped from Tibet.
However, the first nun to earn a Geshema degree was a German named Kelsang Wangmo who had spent 21 years training in India and was conferred the degree in 2011.