THE GRADUATION OF THE FIRST EVER TIBETAN GESHEMAS
by Rinchen Khando Choegyal
Founder and Director, Tibetan Nuns Project
On behalf of the Tibetan Nuns Project and the over 700 nuns that we support in India and Nepal, it gives me great pleasure to announce that this year there will be a formal ceremony to mark the graduation of the first ever Tibetan Geshemas.
The event is scheduled to take place in South India on December 22nd in a function to be held at Drepung Monastery in Mundgod Tibetan Settlement. Drepung Monastery is one of the three great monastic universities which have been re-established in exile and it is a great honor for the nuns to receive their degree certificates in such an important seat of learning during the 600th Anniversary of the founding of this Monastery in Tibet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama will personally bestow the degrees on the nuns who have earned them.
This event marks a very important milestone in the history of Tibetan Buddhism and in the education and empowerment of Tibetan Buddhist nuns. For the first time ever, Tibetan nuns will receive the Geshema degree, equivalent to a doctorate in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.
The Tibetan Nuns Project has worked tirelessly to open up of this opportunity for the nuns which would not have been possible without the unwavering vision and guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration has supported this vision and the venerable teachers have carried out and brought it to fruition.
The 20 degree candidates have just completed the final round of examinations at Geden Choeling Nunnery in Dharamsala, and test results will be released in early July. The Geshema examination process is a rigorous one that takes place over four years and is the culmination of the nuns’ 17-year course of study.
Attaining the Geshema degree will mark a turning point for the nuns. The degrees will make them eligible to assume various leadership roles in the monastic and lay communities reserved for degree holders and hence previously not possible for women to attain.
The nuns’ achievements are all the more remarkable because some of the women sitting the doctoral exams were totally illiterate when they escaped from Tibet. Some could not even write their own names.
We are extremely grateful to all our supporters around the world for their compassion for the nuns and their generosity. This dedication from our global family of supporters is what has made it possible for the nuns to fulfill long-held aspirations that at one time seemed only dreams. You and your essential support will be remembered in the history of Tibet.