THRANGU TARA ABBEY
A NUNNERY FOR BUDDHIST NUNS
Thrangu Tara Abbey is a monastery established for Buddhist nuns by Thrangu Rinpoche. It is located in Swayambunath on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Swayambu is a special spiritual place named after the famous Swayambu Stupa. Many monasteries, temples and a large community of Tibetans are nearby.
In 1991, the first group of 17 nuns arrived from the province of Manang, Nepal, near the Tibetan border. The nuns were affiliated with Thrangu Rinpoche. The head nuns, Ani Tsomo and Ani Karma Drolma, are sisters of one of Rinpoche’s main lamas, Lama Aju. Their ancestors were founders and keepers of the Buddhist tradition in Manang since ancient times.
When the nuns first arrived, they lived in a monastery owned by the Manangi community. In 1992 land was purchased and the nuns hauled bricks and labored until 1995 when they moved into the first wing of hostel rooms, a kitchen and temporary shrine room. A second wing was finished in 1998 along with a larger shrine room.
Through the generosity of sponsors, construction of the temple began in January 2001 between the two wings. The completed temple houses a large shrine room, library, Nunye shrine room, Tara shrine room, a small suite for Thrangu Rinpoche, some housing for special guests, and the nuns’ dining room on the ground floor. The temple consecration was in December 2008. Tara Abbey also has a monastic college for Higher Buddhist Studies.
The nuns have a playground with a court for basketball, volleyball and badminton. Beside this area is a workshop with machinery to make Tibetan medicine from herbs gathered in the Himalayas.
Most of the more than 230 nuns come from the northern areas of Nepal but many also come from Tibet, India and Bhutan. Sometimes nuns from Asian countries and the west stay at the Abbey.
Thrangu Rinpoche had long held the intention to establish a monastic center for women to make available to them the full range of monastic, liturgical, philosophical and meditation training available to monks. With this training, they will be able to teach both in the east and the west thereby helping to preserve and propagate the Buddha’s teachings. In a world where women are becoming stronger, more educated and more involved in all spheres including religion, the development of female teachers is important. As the nuns increasingly become both scholars and yogis, they will be a source of inspiration to both women and men.
A regular prayer schedule with daily prayers morning, afternoon and evening includes recitation of Green Tara and Mahakala. Nuns perform all day prayers on special days such as Gyalwa Gyamtso (Red Chenreyzig) on the 8th day of each month of the Tibetan calendar, Kunchok Chindu (Guru Rinpoche) prayers on Guru Rinpoche Day which falls on the 10th of each month and eight other all-day prayers which must be recited monthly. There are also special ceremony programs such as Vajrasattva, Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini prayers that last for several days and are performed during various times of the year. The Kangyur, which is the collected sutras of the Buddha, is also recited yearly from the 3rd day of the 3rd month. The nuns, taking turns, are holding continuous Nunye (Thousand Arm Chenreyzig) practice that others can take part in.
HIGHER BUDDIST PHILOSOPHY – TARA ABBEY MONASTIC COLLEGE ...see photo 1 - 2
The College for Higher Buddhist Studies (Shedra) was inaugurated March 2004.
Currently there are 53 nuns studying in a taxing seven-year program. Four teachers are nuns who completed their studies at the Central Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies in Sarnath, India. One teacher has attained Acharaya, the highest degree awarded from that institute. The first students at Tara Abbey are now in their sixth year of study. In addition to the nuns studying in the Tara Abbey Shedra, five nuns are studying at the Central Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies in Sarnath, ten nuns are studying in Shedra in Dharmsala, India and another three are studying in Shedra in South India.
SECULAR EDUCATION – SHREE MANGAL DVIP SCHOOL ...see photo
Since 1999, nearly all the young nuns of Tara Abbey have been attending Thrangu
Rinpoche’s school (Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School), located in Boudha, Kathmandu. Currently 42 nuns are receiving a secular education at SMD in addition to their studies in the Abbey, traveling 2 hours daily in their school bus to study. Many need special classes to catch up as education is lacking in their remote villages. Upon leaving school, they may enter into shedra studies at the Abbey.
TIBETAN MEDICINE STUDIES
Several years ago ten nuns completed Tibetan Medicine studies with Dr. Lobsang who was trained under the late famous Shakar Rinpoche (known as Shakar Amji).
Eight of the nun doctors serve at a medical clinic in Swayambu called “Tara Abbey Clinic”. (details below). Two are working in a new medical clinic in their village in Nubri in northern Nepal. Currently a new group is studying Tibetan Medicine.
THREE YEAR RETREAT CENTER – SHER MONASTERY ...see photo 1 - 2
The nuns have a center for traditional three year retreat in Manang situated in northern Nepal close to the famous Milarepa caves and the snow mountains of Tibet. Sher Gonpa was rebuilt and consecrated in August 2005. In retreat the nuns learn and meditate on the main practices of the Kagyu lineage. On completion, they may become teachers (lamas). Currently ten nuns are near to completing their first year of retreat. Many of the Tara Abbey nuns have completed three year retreat.
The nuns complete their ngondro (Four Foundations practices) in special rooms in the nunnery. Some go to Namo Buddha Thrangu Tashi Choling, two hours from the nunnery, for ngondro retreat for one year, the prerequisite for three year retreat.
TARA ABBEY MEDICAL CLINIC ...see photo
The medical clinic is situated in Swayambunath near the large stupa and is staffed by eight of the nun medical doctors, practicing both Tibetan Medicine and acupuncture. A very skilled acupuncturist with clinics in Spain and the UK trained them and will return for further training. The nuns make most of the medicine and also make special incense at Tara Abbey.
INCENSE ...see photo
The nun doctors make incense from the precious trees growing in the mountains at Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet. This monastery is the seat of the Karmapas and the legend is that the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, blessed the mountains with his hair and from his hair, trees rose up. These trees are widely known in Tibet for purifying obstacles and bringing good fortune. The Tara Abbey incense is sold in some centers in the west including the store at KTD (in the US), Namse Bangzo, where it can be ordered online. It can also be purchased online through Essence Of The Ages: http://www.essenceoftheages.com/thrangu/tara1.html
DHARMA KARA PUBLICATIONS
A group of nuns work with Thrangu Dharmakara to transcribe Thrangu Rinpoche’s teachings in Tibetan and also to input texts. Many of the transcribed teachings are
being published and taught by Thrangu Rinpoche during the annual sangha teachings at Namo Buddha which the nuns attend.
ECOLOGY AND GARDENING ...see photo
Through the wishes of the Karmapa, Orgyen Thinley Dorje, Tara Abbey formed an ecology club to protect the environment and conserve fuel and electricity. All the garbage is separated and recycled. Compost is onsite. Lights are turned out and electricity used minimally. Old robes are turned into tote bags and shopping bags, even
sacks for buying large quantities of food. A large garden for growing vegetables and fruit trees provide much needed nutrition.
TARA DANCE ...see photo 1 - 2
The nuns have been learning and performing "The Dance of the Praises to the 21 Taras" for many years now. The dance was developed by the American Indian classical dancer Prema Dasura at the request of the 3rd Jamgong Kongtrul Rinpoche from the texts of the Tara Cycle revealed by the great terton Chogyur Lingpa. The nun's dance teacher is also an Indian classical dancer, Andrea Abinanti, who learned the dance from Prema.
OTHER ...see photo
Many nuns attend special functions and also participate annually in the Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya, India. Two nuns will join the Karmapa’s 900th anniversary celebrations. Ani Tsomo, the Head Nun, is the resident lama of Thrangu Rinpoche’s center in Taichung, Taiwan. Ani Kunsang is resident lama of Rinpoche’s center, Karma Tashi Ling, in Edmonton, Canada.
In the future, as more room becomes available, there will likely be many hundreds of nuns living at the Abbey. There is a long waiting list of girls and women wishing to enter. It is hoped that Thrangu Tara Abbey will be a source and inspiration for all women who wish to lead a religious life, not only for women from the Himalayan regions and India, but also for women from other parts of Asia and the west. Having a shedra for nuns with nun khenpos as teachers and with education being directed by Thrangu Rinpoche, the Abbey will become an important center for the study of Buddhist philosophy, ritual and prayer.
- View Slideshow of Nuns Who Need Sponsors
- See Slideshow on the Nunnery
- Thrangu Tara Abbey Education Fund
- Thrangu Rinpoche's Nuns Study at the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India
- "THE NUNS OF THRANGU TARA ABBEY" - A Two CD Set of Prayers & Liturgies
ABOUT THRANGU RINPOCHE
VV Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche is the senior teacher and Abbott of the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. After leaving Tibet, he was appointed Abbot of Rumtek Monastery, the seat of HH Gyalwa Karmapa in Sikkim, and was teacher of the Regents of the lineage. He is now the main tutor of HH 17th Karmapa, Urgyen Thinley Dorje.
Thrangu Rinpoche has established a monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal, a monastery, monastic college and retreat center at Namo Buddha, Nepal, a three-year retreat center near Bhaktapur, Nepal, The Vajra Vidya Insitute for Buddhist Studies in Sarnath, India, Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School in Boudhanath and the Tara Abbey in Swayambunath. Thrangu Rinpoche has many foundations and Buddhist centers in Europe, North America and Asia. In July 2010 Thrangu Monastery in Vancouver, Canada was inaugurated. It is the only Tibetan monastery in Canada.
For future generations, Thrangu Rinpoche believes that it is extremely important for people to have secular education and the opportunity to engage in Buddhist studies.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. GENERAL DONATIONS
2. INDIVIDUAL SPONSORSHIP OF NUNS
- FOR FOOD AND CLOTHING
Of 230 nuns, 156 currently have sponsors.
The cost of everything in Nepal is soaring.
- DONATIONS FOR MEDICAL NEEDS
About ten nuns have TB at any time and medicine can be expensive. Some nuns have different types of hepatitis requiring medicine and special food. Hospitalization and operations are at times required and are costly. Vitamins are essential to prevent low iron and skin issues
- FUNDS FOR FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS
For furniture and curtains for rooms, desks, puja tables, rugs, library shelving etc.
- DONATIONS FOR BOOKS FOR THE LIBRARY
- TEXTBOOKS AND NOTEBOOKS FOR THOSE STUDYING IN THE NUNNERY
- If you sponsor a nun, your nun will write you letters in English if you wish to have correspondence. Sponsorship of a nun is $240 a year. More info
3. SPONSORSHIP FOR SCHOOL FEES FOR A YOUNG NUN ATTENDING SHREE MANGAL DVIP SCHOOL (See Tara Abbey Education Fund )
- To cover school fees, lunch, textbooks and notebooks etc.: $240 per year.
4. DONATIONS FOR BUILDING:
Funds are needed to build a new dormitory for housing nuns. The existing rooms are very crowded and they are unable to take in new nuns.
Cost of construction of a new dormitory: Approx. $175,000
THE NUNS OF THRANGU TARA ABBEY WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS THEIR GRATITUDE TO ALL THE SPONSORS WHO HAVE HELPED THEM IN THE MANY DIFFERENT WAYS THAT HAVE CHANGED THEIR LIVES ALLOWING THEM TO DEVOTE THEIR LIVES TO MEDITATION AND STUDY.
Please refer to the following list of non-profit charitable foundations for the activities of Thrangu Rinpoche.
For general information contact:
Gloria Jones, Tara Abbey Coordinator in Nepal: Send Email
If you are visiting Nepal and would like to visit the Abbey, you can call Gloria Jones: 214-0440 or the Abbey. Tel: 428-7428
IN THE U.S.A.
Himalayan Children's Fund
P.O. Box 15644
Beverly Hills, California 90209
Director: Debra Ann Robinson
Telephone: (310) 395-6616
Debra Ann Robinson: (310) 395-6616
Vajra Vidya Foundation (Canadian non-profit charity)
Public Foundation Reg. No. 888437621 RR
PO Box 46898, STN. D.
Vancouver, BC CANADA V6J 5M4
Kate Ayers: Communication/Membership
Karma Kagyu Charity, (Special Account Tashi Choling)
Vajra Vidya Centre
Wackerstr. 47d Lindau
THRANGU RINPOCHE TRUST
42 Magdelen Road
Oxford OX4 1RB, UK
Make cheques payable to: "Thrangu Rinpoche Trust-Tara Abbey Fund"
Phone: 44-1865-24l555 Fax: 44-l865-790096 (0l865 inside U.K.)
Treasurer: Dr. Paul Durrands e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please specify what the donation is for.
To wire money directly to the bank in Britain::
Sort Code: 301251
Account Number: 7444333
Address: Lloyds TSB Bank, Cowley Branch
1 Pound Way, Cowley
Oxfordshire, OXF 2EB, UK
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