Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery
Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery is located below Kopan Monastery near the sacred Buddhist town of Boudhanath in Nepal's Kathmandu valley.
In 1982 Lama Yeshe invited the first nuns to join Kopan monastery and study with the monks, quite a revolutionary proposal at that time. The nunnery was officially founded in 1986 under the direction of Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, and in 1994, 80 nuns moved into their own premises. The nunnery is now home to some 390 Tibetan Buddhist nuns from Nepal, India and Tibet.
Traditionally, ritual arts and scholastic study have been a prerogative of Tibetan Buddhist monks, with their ordained sisters receiving little or no training in these areas. In Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery, however, this is not the case.
The nuns of Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery have had the doors of the classical Buddhist education opened to them. They are provided with highly trained scholars to teach them, and are now instructed in classical Tibetan debate, the performance of ritual music, the creation of sand mandalas, and other ritual arts.
Not surprisingly, once given access to scholastic training, the nuns have shown an intense determination to excel in their studies. They take part in the complete study program alongside their brother monks from Kopan. Their studies include Tibetan and English language, mathematics, philosophy, meditation, debate, rituals, chanting and art, along with other teachings and practice of the Buddha. Their goal is to become qualified Dharma teachers so that they may teach others, and to become economically self-sufficient.
Kopan has already established a geshe study program (the geshe degree is the monastic equivalent of a Doctor of Divinity). and the nuns at Khachoe Ghakyil are enrolled in this program - one of the few nunneries in India and Nepal to offer such an opportunity to their nuns. This is an especially welcome development! Every year selected nuns now participate in the annual one month debate, in which several nunneries challenge each other in debating skills, with the venue being rotated amongst the various nunneries every year.
The Incense Factory "Pure Land Incense"
The nunnery is funded mainly by donations from kind benefactors, and offerings received for prayers performed. A permanent food fund has been set up to secure the future of the nunnery and its residents. An additional source if income is the incense factory that was established in 1997. Tibetan style incense is hand made by the nuns. The incense has become quite popular and is available in several fragrances and presentation. You can support the nunnery by ordering this incense.
During several tours to USA and Europe the nuns have also shown their proficiency in ritual arts, chanting and monastic dance to the wider public and were welcomed with open arms; another tour to Europe is planned for 2006. The main purpose of the tours is to raise fund for the building fund.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche emphasised that study as well as retreat are the two main objectives of life at the nunnery. On his advice a special retreat compound was built at the nunnery in 1996 with the kind help of one Taiwanese sponsors, and in May 2000, a group of ten nuns entered a three year retreat.
A special practice entrusted to the nunnery by Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the annual Nyung ne retreat. During the month of Saka Dawa the whole nunnery participates in a two week fasting retreat (Nyung ne). Foreign visitors are welcome to join the nuns in this retreat.
New BuildingsDue to the constant influx of new nuns, the nuns at present live in extremely cramped conditions. Plans have been drawn up for building a new hostel of 100 rooms at the cost of US$4500 each room. The construction also includes a new gompa, as the present structures are far too small. Later, a new dining hall and classrooms will need to be built.
Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche has advised that the main deity statue in the gompa should be thousand-armed Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara), 18 feet high. The cost of the statue is US$57,000.
Some funds for the new buildings have been received through the generosity of donors. Still, a lot more is needed. We invite you to help with the finances for the new buildings, or donate to the Chenrezig statue, with as much or as little as you would like.
See our "Ways to help" page for information on how to make donations to the building fund of the nunnery, or use this link here to donate to the nunnery building fund.