By Tendar Tsering
DHARAMSHALA, March 13: Seventeen Tibetan nuns from eight nunneries in India and Nepal attended a seven-day training in Dharamshala organised by the Tibetan Women’s Association.
Nuns Leadership Training, the 4th in series concluded yesterday with a panel discussion on the topic ‘Political Participation by Tibetan Nuns in the Exile Diaspora’ held at the House of Peace and Dialogue, in Upper TCV School, Dharamsala.
Three prominent and distinguished personalities participated: Geshe Monlam Tharchin, Member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, nun Lobsang Dechen, the Executive Director of the Tibetan Nun’s Project, and Ngawang Choedak, Secretary of the Department of Religion.
Each panelist offered powerful insight and constructive suggestions pertaining to ‘Political Participation by Tibetan Nuns in the Exile Diaspora’ and presented additional feedback in a question and answer session.
“This is fourth annual workshop for the nuns, and this workshop is aimed at empowering the nuns," Kriti Dolker Lhamo, the president of TWA said.
Sharing her experiences, nun Lobsang Dechen emphasised the need for nuns to be able to administer their own nunneries and contribute back to the community. She referred to a few graduate nuns from Dolmaling, now teaching Buddhism at schools in Bylakuppe, south India and north-eastern parts of India.
She also recalled the ‘political achievements of Ven. Thinley Chodon and Ven. Pachen Dolma as exceptional examples in Tibetan history’.
“As Tibetan Buddhism is becoming more popular, some foreign critics point their fingers at our Tibetan society, and say ‘Tibetan nuns are behind Tibetan monks,’ so you have the responsibility to make sure that there such criticisms don't emerge,” Dechen said.
Geshe Monlam Tharchin reminded the nuns of their responsibility in carrying the Tibetan struggle forward.
“There is scope for the nuns to be politicians and to be literary masters. So focus on your studies. It is important to participate in street activities in protest against the Chinese government, but education is the best weapon that we can use in the long run,” Geshe Tharchin said.
“I came across with some classical writings of some nuns in the earlier centuries, but in this century, not many of our nuns have produced classical literary pieces. So, study hard,” Geshe Tharchin emphasised.
Ngawang Choedak urged the Tibetan nunneries to build networks with the Christian nunneries in India.
“It would be great if our nuns can form ‘Nun-Associations’ and build networks with the Christian nunneries or other international Women’s Association,” Ngawang Choedark said.
“I feel empowered and I wish more nuns could join such workshops in the future,” a nun participant said.