Drolma Ling Nunnery, Mongolia
- Drolma Ling Nunnery, Mongolia
On thr 4th of September eleven women received Getsulma ordination from the most venerable Bakula Rinpoche at his monastery in Ulaan Baatar. Seven were new members of the Drolma Ling community and the other four were already residents with rabjung vows. This is the first community of Getsulmas ever to exist in Mongolia. There is no historical tradition of true nunneries in Mongolia; the few so-called "nunneries" emerging in recent years are communities of mostly devout lay women who recite texts for money. At all the monasteries, Bakula Rinpoche could not even find the text for Getsulma ordination, and had to have a copy sent by fax from Delhi.
Drolma Ling was established this year by our FPMT Mongolian centre.
The first group of nuns were ordained last year by the abbot of Sera Je
Monastery who was visiting Mongolia, and they lived at our centre before
moving to Drolma Ling at the end of May this year. Drolma Ling
was established (with the same name) many centuries ago
as a Chinese monastery practising Tibetan Buddhism. It included a nunnery,
but we are not sure of the ordination status of the women
who used to live there. In the 1930's, along with 99% of the other
monasteries in Mongolia, Drolma Ling was mostly reduced to rubble by the
communists and the remaining sangha were either slaughtered, forced to
live a lay life, or sent to Siberia (the middle option being the worst).
Several years ago, a Mongolian woman, Bathamhand, occupied the site of
the ruins and supervised construction of a crude accommodation block and
reconstruction of a Chinese-style temple from the rubble. The fired
bricks and the mud bricks, even the remaining timbers, were in excellent
condition. The bricks are far superior to anything made today and are
even eagerly sought for their supposed medicinal qualities. Bathamhand
took in several orphaned or abandoned girls and, supported by Korean
sponsors, gave them a secular education. She and her girls established a
strong tradition of Tara Practice which our nuns have continued. FPMT
acquired the property from Bathamhand in March this year and we have
been busily renovating the existing buildings and establishing a water
supply from a bore. Conditions are still quite primitive but we hope
suitable for our nuns to survive the coming Mongolian winter. Next year
we wish to build a completely new nunnery on the site with accommodation
and facilities for at least 100 nuns.
Living with the Mongolian nuns we have two Tibetan nuns, Ngawang and
Lobsang, from Kopan nunnery who are teaching Tibetan language, how to
perform pujas, and, in general, how to be good nuns living within pure
Vinaya. The nuns also receive regular teachings from our FPMT teacher,
Geshe Nyima Dorje, and the resident Western teacher, Thubten Gyatso.
Already Drolma Ling is the spiritual centre for the Mongolians who
live in the district. They attend pujas and regularly come for spiritual
counseling. Soon, Gyatso will start Lam Rim classes at the nunnery for
the lay people and the nuns. Also, building of a community centre at the
nunnery is well under way. Financed by the Swiss Government and other
donors, this centre will provide free lunches for poor people, primary medical
education and care, a womens' support group as alcoholism and domestic
violence is a widespread problem, and, hopefully, an alcoholic's support group
which has been one of Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche's wishes
since the beginning of our Mongolian activities.
The community centre will be managed
by Ven. Thubten Jinpa, an Australian nun, who has already
spent a year here working with the Lotus Children's Centre,
a home for abandoned, neglected, and orphaned children. Jinpa will also
assist the nuns' community in their financial management. As most of the
Mongolian nuns are unable to provide for their board, Thubten Jinpa is
managing a Nuns' Support Fund with donations from overseas to help
provide their basic necessities. We also have a building fund managed,
at present, by FPMT International Office. One of the Mongolian nuns was
recently admitted to hospital with tuberculous meningitis. As there is
no nursing care in Mogolian hospitals, Jinpa, one of the nuns, and a lay
woman are providing 24-hour nursing for her.
There was a prediction in a centuries-old Mongolian text
that Bakula Arhant will appear in Mongolia to revive Dharma
and the pure Vinaya. In his 11 years as Ambassador for India,
Rinpoche has taught Dharma throughout Mongolia and established
the only monastery in this country where all the monks keep pure Vinaya.
Now, Bakula Rinpoche has planted the seeds for a nunnery.
Please pray that for the sake of Mongolia,
and for the sake of the preservation of the Mahayana tradition,
Drolma Ling Nunnery flourishes in the future.
Ven. Thubten Gyatso (Dr.Adrian Feldmann) gyatso-mongolia@...
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