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“Now and throughout the history of Buddhism, there have been many monasteries in Deer Park, but Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling is the first nunnery on this holy land. Establishing this beautiful nunnery is a historical achievement that is the fulfillment of the diligent work, kindness, and aspiration prayers of many people. We pray that this is not only a singular historical event, but that it will become a special starting point that will begin a new chapter in the history of Buddhism in Deer Park. We hope that it will deeply inspire the resident nuns on their path of knowledge, wisdom and compassion, and immediately benefit all women and all of humanity for many generations to come.”
-The Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling Nunnery was established by Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche under the auspices of Padmasambhava Buddhist Center, and is guided by Lama Jomo Lorraine to spiritually and intellectually nurture Tibetan women. Through the Venerable Rinpoches’ kindness they created both a religious and secular educational opportunity for the nuns that is free from gender bias. The education provided supports the Dharma, affords independence, and guarantees the preservation of Tibetan culture through religion, philosophy, and language. Through the generous support of benefactors, it is the wishes of the Venerable Rinpoches to further develop the educational experiences for the nuns of Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling as a way to uphold the authentic Nyingma lineages of Tibet.
Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling is the first Buddhist nunnery located at historic Deer Park in the holy city of Sarnath, India. Deer Park was the location that Buddha Shakyamuni gave his first teaching on the Four Noble Truths. The nunnery is located on four acres of land which is ornamented with beautiful fruit trees and flowers, and is only a short walk from the Rinpoches’ monastery: Padma Samye Chökhor Ling.
Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling opened in March 2003. The nunnery was completed and consecrated in November 2006, reflecting the Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches’ commitment to provide equal education for both men and women. Women have historically played a significant role in helping to uphold many Dharma lineages in Tibet. By establishing the first Buddhist nunnery in the holy land of Sarnath, the Ven. Khenpo Rinpoches have created a wonderful opportunity for female practitioners to lead a very meaningful and fruitful life as they deepen their knowledge of the Dharma, and learn important skills to help others.
The nunnery is a beautiful there-story structure that includes a large formal temple, a library filled with thousands of books, individual rooms for resident nuns, four spacious apartments and many single and double rooms that can be rented by Buddhist pilgrims, a large dining hall, various offices, and private quarters for the Khenpo Rinpoches. There is one computer with internet access at the nunnery.
The nuns receive a formal secular and religious education that is the same as that of the monks at Padma Samye Chökhor Ling Monastery. As many of the entering nuns cannot read or write, their education begins with the basics: reading, writing, grammar, and learning lineage chants. They all receive a solid academic foundation including art, three languages (Tibetan, English, and Hindi), philosophy, and the principles of the bodhisattva life. From the ritual master, they learn and practice Tibetan Buddhist ritual, ceremony, and meditation. Unlike the monks, the nuns’ training also includes the additional practice of Chöd. The nuns perform Chöd every evening with hand drums, bells, and traditional chants and melodies.