At the request of her Teacher, the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, Jetsunma’s vision was to found a Nunnery to give young nuns of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage the opportunity to realise their intellectual and spiritual potential after so many centuries of neglect, and also to reinstate at the nunnery the Togdenma (yogini) tradition.
The Nunnery was named ‘Dongyu Gatsal Ling’ by the Spiritual Director His Eminence the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Nyima. It means “Garden of the Authentic Lineage” and was chosen because “Dongyu Nyima” was the name of the previous Khamtrul Rinpoche, who was Tenzin Palmo’s personal Guru.
The emphasis of DGL Nunnery is to:
The Nunnery started in January 2000 in a small room at Tashi Jong with a group of girls from Ladakh. Soon more young nuns from Tibet, Spiti, Kinnaur and other Himalayan regions boosted the numbers to twenty one. For the first eighteen months the nuns lived in Khampagar Monastery’s newly built monastic college at Tashi Jong which previously had lain empty.
Later when Khampagar Monastery needed to establish their own college, the nuns moved to Shanti Niwas (meaning Peaceful Abode), a hundred-year old mud brick house on a nearby tea estate where they remained for some time.
They were taught philosophy by Khenpo Losal Zangpo, Tibetan language by Gen Lodoe and English by various volunteers.
Meanwhile the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Trust (established in India in mid-1999) purchased seven acres of suitable land from the Tashi Jong Community and construction of the Nunnery began, beginning with the Nun’s dormitories.
A DGL website was established and teaching tours were organised to gain support for the Nunnery as well as to spread the Dharma. Soon donations from all over the world came in and sponsors committed to helping the nuns. Vicki Mackenzie’s biography of Tenzin Palmo ‘Cave in the Snow’ brought awareness of this work and continues to raise funds.
In late 2005 the nuns were able to move to their newly completed living quarters at the permanent Nunnery location while the construction continued around them.
You can see a photo gallery of the construction of DGL right.
The buildings of Dongyu Gatsal Ling are now fully completed.
From the beginning we were very fortunate to gather a team of skilled builders who mostly stayed on with us through the years. They built DGL with great care and attention to quality and we are deeply grateful for all their efforts on our behalf.
Visitors often remark on how well DGL has been constructed.
Especially we must thank Monica Joyce and Eliz Dowling for their enduring support, Manu Kumar who was our site manager and Sanju Sharma who worked as foreman and is now DGL maintenance manager.
Since the beginning our DGL office has been run by well-educated young women who come from nearby Tashi Jong.
Our current office holders Dolma Keither and Tenzin Lhakpa have been with us for many years and are now expert in office and financial management. We rely on them for the efficient running of this nunnery.
Above all, we must thank all the many friends and benefactors who donated to the building of DGL, and made it possible for Jetsunma to create this “Garden of the Authentic Lineage”.
The Nunnery name Dongyu Gatsal Ling translates as ‘Garden of the Authentic Lineage’. This name was bestowed on the Nunnery by His Eminence the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Nyima when Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo founded the Nunnery.
On top of the logo is the Victory Banner, the personal emblem of the Khamtrul Rinpoches. The banner is surmounting a Dharma Wheel which shows that this is a place of study and practice where the Wheel of the Doctrine is being turned. On both sides of the Wheel are jewel-holding dragons, symbols of the Drukpa Kagyu or ‘Dragon’ lineage.
The lineage became known as the Dragon Lineage because nine dragons (Druk means Dragon in Tibetan) thunderously roared up from the earth as flowers rained down from the sky when the first Drukpa Kagyu monastery was established in Tibet, in the 12th century.
The logo was designed by renowned artist Dugu Choegyal Rinpoche and was painted by Tsering Wangchuk, a master artist from Tashi Jong.