Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery was established in 1999 by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, at the request of Kyabgon Khamtrul Rinpoche, to offer girls and young women from Tibet and the Himalayan border regions of India, Bhutan, and Nepal an opportunity to develop their academic and spiritual potential.
As was tradition, nuns in these areas were mostly neglected and given little education. They had limited access to the Buddhist teachings and training available to monks. Often, though intelligent and devoted, they were denied instruction and remained as little more than servants for their families or monasteries.
With Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo as its director, DGL Nunnery offers a balanced training program of both study and practice so that the intellectual and spiritual capabilities of these women may be fully realized. The nuns study philosophy under the direction of a Khenpo and senior nun teachers, as well as learn Tibetan grammar, English language, ritual, and meditation. Every year there is a two month meditation retreat during the rainy season, and after six years of training, the nuns may choose either to continue with their philosophy studies for four more years or enter long-term retreats.
It is the heart mission of DGL Nunnery that some of its nuns will become scholars and realized practitioners so that they can carry on this precious Drukpa Kagyu tradition for future generations.
The DGL Nunnery buildings comprise the nuns’ dormitories, the study center (shedra), the retreat center (drubda), the office and staff quarters, and a traditional temple for 108 nuns. There is also a small clinic and a guesthouse for visitors. The nunnery is situated on seven acres of land overlooked by the Himalaya mountains and near the Khampagar Monastery of Tashi Jong.
Finding Our Voice – Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery from Peter Aronson..
Since the days of the great yogi Milarepa, there have been many male and female yogic practitioners called Togdens (Realized Ones), who choose to follow the ascetic path to enlightenment. Unfortunately, this precious yogic tradition was almost lost during the Cultural Revolution. At the Khampagar Monastery, at Tashi Jong in northern India, there are monk Togdens who still hold this lineage. Read more about the monk togdens at Tashi Jong here.
One of the aims of DGL Nunnery is to revive the tradition of female monastic Togdenma associated with the Palden Drukpa lineage. Currently, DGL Nunnery has eight nuns in long-term retreat, several of whom have already completed over seven years. They are all under the personal guidance of Togden Achoe, the most senior yogin of Khampagar Monastery.
The training of a Togdenma is long, rigorous, and austere with many years spent practicing in strict retreat until the spiritual realizations are stabilized.
The nuns at Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery hold a three-hour prayer ritual of the Buddha Akshobhya once a month on the day of New Moon. This ritual is especially beneficial for those who are recently deceased. Prayers are offered for all beings so it is not necessary to be Buddhist to benefit. Please click the “Prayer Request” link below, choose “Akshobhya Puja” and add a note about the deceased, including their name, age, and date and cause of passing.