Within Mongolian society, Danzan Ravjaa (1803-56) was so ahead of the curve in so many ways, it’s a little dizzying to recount them: as an educator, dramatist, poet, physician, creator of public libraries and museums and, most significantly, as the architect of an all-inclusive enlightenment culture that provided the means for anyone with devotion and gumption to get off the wheel of suffering in this life.
But what was most unusual, and what most concerns us here, is that Danzan Ravjaa insisted that in each and every one of these arenas, women be afforded the exact same opportunities as the men.
This spirit persists in Mongolia’s East Gobi, where Danzan Ravjaa’s famed seat, Khamariin Khiid, is being rebuilt piece by piece. After one major temple is completed next year, work will begin in 2009 on Toinag Datsan, the temple that was the exclusive province of female practitioners. They were renowned for their dedication to, and accomplishment of, the Buddha’s path to enlightenment and therefore accorded great respect. The hope is that this will be the case once more.
This hope initially rests on ten young women, specially selected for deep Buddhist training at HH Penor Rinpoche’s Tsogyal Shedrup Dargyeling Nunnery in south India, currently one of the very finest of such institutions in the world. As many of you know, through the Mongolian Buddhism Revival Project, KPC has eagerly agreed to secure sponsorship for the travel and basic needs of these women. So many generous donors from around the world have already brought us very close to this goal – thank you! – but we still have just a little further to go. The aim is to make this auspicious offering to Khamariin Khiid on the Lha Bab Duchen holiday November 1, when it’s believed the power of the virtue for all the donors is increased 10 million times. Will you help us get there? You may make a secure, online donation in any amount here, or follow this link for other options.
This multi-year training opportunity in India, especially within the Nyingma tradition, exists nowhere in Mongolia for women right now. This is their one chance. The dream of women like:
Ani Wangmo, who became a nun under the Ven. Bakula Rinpoche in 2002. She has felt a strong urge to study the Nyingmapa tradition, but it’s only now, with the passing of the mother she cared for, that she feels free enough to pursue it. In 2006 she joined the first class of women admitted to Gandan Monastery’s Zanabazar University of Higher Buddhist Studies where she is getting a solid foundation in Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan language.
Tsetsegsaikhan (Mongols often use just one name – hers means “Flower of Peace”), who has been devouring whatever spiritual books she could get her hands on for as long as she can remember. But it wasn’t until she visited Khamar Monastery that she felt she found her true path. Along with Ani Wangmo, she is also pursuing foundational Buddhist studies at Zanabazar University, and feels her one calling is to be a nun herself.
Narantsetseg, a longtime devotee who finally found her teacher at Khamariin Khiid. She is now finally free enough of household commitments to pursue the religious life that has been burning inside her for years.
And, of course, Oyangaa, whose poignant story we told before.
Please support these women in their noble pursuit!