Buddhist nuns to become first generation of professors

17 Nov 2015 | By Kartikeya Jain
A breakthrough for Buddhist nuns

The first batch of 20 Buddhist nuns are set to become the first generation of women professors (or dons) in the Tibetan tradition.

A nun who passes the final examination after completing a total of 21 years of studies is conferred the doctorate degree.

Delek Wangmo, a nun, said that the degree would give the nuns a new energy to study even harder.

In context: A breakthrough for Buddhist nuns

Introduction Who are Bhikkhunis?

Buddhist nuns are known as Bhikkhuni who spend life by a set of buddhist rules- the Eight Garudhammas.

The concept of Bhikkhunis was created by Lord Buddha on a specific request by his aunt Mahapajapati Gotami who became the first Bhikkhuni.

To become a Bhikkhuni, one has to enter the monastic way of life, wear the monastic's robes, and take full vows of bhikkhuni.

Discrimination The discrimination against nuns in Buddhism

In March 1993, Sylvia Wetzel, a Buddhist nun spoke in front of Dalai Lama to highlight the sexism of Buddhist practices, imagery and teachings.

Ajahn Amaro, a bhikkhu said that it was painful to see nuns not receiving same respect as monks.

Monk Thubten Pende said that the tradition that even the most senior nun had to sit behind most novice monk was shameful.

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Degree What is the doctorate degree?

A person is required to study five buddhist texts which are based on the teachings of Buddha, in order to get a doctorate degree.

The method of study involves logical analysis and debate, combined with regular sessions of prayer and recitation.

The degree is known as Geshe when awarded to monks and Geshema when awarded to the nuns.

The situation before 2012

Before the decision in 2012, doctorates were awarded only to monks. Nuns weren't allowed to become professors.

17 Nov 2015Dalai Lama had advocated doctorate programme for nuns

Central Tibetan Administration's (CTA) department of religion and culture joint secretary Thubten Tsering said that his holiness Dalai Lama had encouraged nuns to take up doctorate degrees.

He said that the Lama was very impressed at the level of knowledge nuns had showed at a prayer festival in Dharamsala in March 2012.

The doctorate programme for nuns was esbtalished in 2012 after Lama's advocacy.

Who is Dalai Lama?

Dalai Lamas are important monks of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism. The current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso who is revered by Tibetans as a living God.
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17 Nov 2015Buddhist nuns to become first generation of professors