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Tara Abbey

Kathmandu, Nepal

A Monastic Educational Center
for Himalayan Women

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His Eminence Thrangu Rinpoche

Thrangu Rinpoche was recognized as a tulku        (reincarnate lama) at the age of four. Ever since then, he has devoted all his time and energy to the Buddhadharma.

The Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche is one of the foremost teachers of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. As abbot of Rumtek Monastery, the seat of H.H. Karmapa in Sikkim, he became the personal tutor of the regents of the Kagyu lineage. He is the Director of Mangal D.V.I.P. Primary School, in Boudhnath, Nepal. In 1986, at the request of Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche assumed the position of Abbot of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada.

In Kham, East Tibet ( Rinpoche's birthplace), his main monastery has now been rebuilt. He has also established a retreat center and a shedra (study center), at Namo Buddha, outside Kathmandu. Now he is constructing an Institute for Advanced Buddhist Studies at Sarnath, India, where Buddha first turned the wheel of Dharma following his enlightenment.

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Dear friends,

It has been my intention for some time to establish a center for Himalayan women in Nepal to be called  Tara Abbey. The purpose of the Abbey is to make available to women the full range of monastic, liturgical, philosophical and meditation training which is available to monks.

In 1991, the first group of 17 nuns came to Kathmandu and in 1992, a second group of nuns joined them. The younger girls have attended primary school, most of them at my school in Boudnath, along with the boys from the monastery and children from the local community. When they enter the Abbey, they begin their serious education and training in the Buddhadharma from the bhiksunis under my guidance. Upon reaching adulthood, the young women can make the choice either to leave the monastic center and use their education within a secular lifestyle, or to enter fully into the monastic life.

The older women will receive the full bhiksuni (gelongma) ordination when they are ready and will be trained in meditation and in Buddhist philosophy. Those who are qualified will enter into a five-year monastic college program (shedra) for training leading to the degree of Khenpo. Most of the nuns will enter into the traditional three-year retreat, either after or instead of completion of the shedra program, depending on their interests and abilities. At this time, several of the older nuns have completed this retreat. It is my expectation that upon completion of the three-year retreat some of these bhiksuni lamas will be sent to centers in the West and the Far East to teach.

Tibetan cultural biases have traditionally led to inferior education and training for Himalayan women, compared to the West and Far East where men and women have equal educational opportunities. The situation is, therefore, that the success of this project will depend upon the support, financial and other, of people from the West and Far East. I envision that close links will be established between Tara Abbey and foreign dharma practitioners and centers, that my nuns will go abroad to teach and study, and that foreigners will come to the nunnery to teach and study.

Construction of the building has begun on land, purchased in 1992, in a peaceful valley near Swayambunath on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The estimated cost for full construction of the building is $200,000. Once construction is completed there will be an on-going need for support of the women and expansion of the facilities. I ask that dharma students and friends consider contributing generously to this Project.

Thank you for your help and support.

With Blessings,

Thrangu Rinpoche


In 1992, land for Tara Abbey was purchased. In the spring of 1994, construction began on the building, which will include a large meditation hall, library, smaller shrine rooms, guest quarters and more bedrooms. The nuns have been participating in the actual construction. They carry heavy loads of bricks, assist in the brick laying and general building. The center's first wing, consisting of 13 bedrooms, kitchen, bathing facilities and toilets, and small dining area is scheduled for completion by March of 1995. All the expenditures are closely supervised by the head of Tara Abbey, Ani Tsomo.

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Ani Tsomo

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    work in progress

                                                                                          

 

 

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nungrp.jpg (19937 bytes) In Himalayan countries such as Nepal, any kind of education is very expensive. If you are not born into a wealthy family, you might not receive any schooling at all. This is especially the case for girls, because traditionally they are seen as less important then boys. Ordinarily, girls will work in a factory, in the fields or as a domestic servant--working seven days a week. If they marry, they will have children and work in the home. Given this situation, Tara Abbey represents a rare opportunity for girls from poor families to receive a good education.

Additionally, the situation of Tibetan and Himalayan women who aspire to a life of religious practice and study is also deplorable. A vast majority of nuns live with their families or together with two or three other nuns. Almost without exception they live in impoverished and unhealthy conditions, have no formal education and little or no access to religious teachers. Tara Abbey is a place where Himalayan women will have full access to the richness of their spiritual tradition and will be allowed and encouraged to develop to their fullest potential.

 


YOU CAN HELP

Funds are urgently needed.

If you are interested in making a donation to Tara Abbey please contact us.

~TARA ABBEY~
~THRANGU NUNNERY FUND~

Sylvia Bercovici
P.O. Box 2356
Idyllwild, California 92549
Tel: (909) 659-3883                                 

 

Wolfgang Schmid
Rheinlandstasse 65
87437 Kempten
Germany

Tel: (0831) 77403