Category Archives: Geshema examinations

Send messages of support to Geshema candidates

When you’re facing big challenges, it feels great to know that people are wishing you good luck. You can send a message of support to the Geshema candidates by writing a comment on this blog.

From August 15-26 2018, 45 Tibetan Buddhist nuns will sit various levels of their Geshema exams. To attain the Geshema degree, the nuns must take four years of exams. (Earlier we reported that there were 46 nuns, but one of the nuns taking first-year exams had to postpone and return home to care for her ailing mother.) The Geshema exams take place over 4 years and are the culmination of a rigorous 17-year course of study.

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Nuns reading messages of good luck and support from other nuns prior to the 2016 Geshema candidates. We’re collecting messages from support from you and will send them to the nuns taking their exams in August 2018.

The Geshema degree (or Geshe degree for monks) is roughly equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism. Until recently, this degree was only open to men. In the last two years, 26 Tibetan Buddhist nuns have made history and earned this degree. Geshes and Geshemas are the most educated monastics, carrying much of the responsibility for preserving the Tibetan religion and culture.

Here’s a little video about the 2018 Geshema exams. [Can’t see the video? Click here.]

The nuns taking their exams this year gathered at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute on July 15th to make their final preparations and studies.

In August 2018 there will be:

  • 12 nuns taking their first-year exams
  • 15 nuns doing their 2nd year
  • 8 nuns doing their 3rd year
  • 10 Geshema candidates doing their fourth and final year of exams. All being well, there will be 10 new Geshema graduates this fall.
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A Tibetan Buddhist nun takes her Geshema exams in 2017. Photo by the Nuns’ Media Team

The Geshemas are paving the way for other nuns to follow in their footsteps. This degree will make them eligible to assume various leadership roles in their monastic and lay communities reserved for degree holders and hence previously not open to women.

On December 22, 2016, His Holiness the Dalai Lama awarded 20 Tibetan Buddhist nuns with Geshema degrees at a special graduation ceremony at Drepung Monastery in Mundgod, South India.

We are seeking donations to help to cover the costs of travel for the Geshema candidates to and from Dolma Ling Nunnery and for their food during their 6-week study and exam period. You can donate here.

In November 2017, another 6 nuns graduated with their Geshema degrees. They received their degrees in a special ceremony on November 5th. The six new Geshemas had the opportunity to join the Geshemas who received their degrees in December 2016 in a groundbreaking new Buddhist tantric studies program. This two-year program at Dolma Ling Nunnery started in November 2017 and is funded by generous supporters through the Tibetan Nuns Project.

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Tibetan Buddhist nuns had in their exam papers during the Geshema exams in 2017. Photo by the Nuns’ Media Team

Global good wishes to the Geshema exam nuns

People from around the world have sent messages of good luck and support to the 29 nuns sitting their Geshema exams in India. The exams have taken place over the last two weeks and finish today, May 15th. The exams are the culmination of a rigorous 17-year course of study and are a landmark achievement for Tibetan women.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns and their teachers during oral examination Geshema exams 2014

A photograph taken during the oral examinations of the May 2014 Geshema exams for Tibetan Buddhist nuns

Twenty-nine Tibetan Buddhist nuns from various nunneries gathered for 1 month at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in the Kangra Valley, near Dharamsala, northern India. During the last two weeks of April, the nuns took part in an intensive study session and then on May 1st they began their oral and written exams. This is only the second year that Geshema exams for Tibetan nuns have taken place. This year, 23 of the 29 nuns have been sitting Part 2 of the four-part exam, while 6 nuns have been taking Part 1.

Here are some of the many heartfelt messages that the nuns received via the Tibetan Nuns Project Facebook page:

Andrew from Canada wrote, “Good luck, just don’t be very nervous because you have worked so hard and you are wise and virtuous already.”

Rita from USA wrote, “I am so glad this day has come! No need to send you luck for it is your dedication and self-discipline that will bring you the success you deserve. I know you are all masters at meditation so I am confident that your minds will be clear and focused. I celebrate this day with each of you! The Buddha is smiling!

Ugyen, a Tibetan woman from Bhutan, said, “Best of luck !!! Very appreciative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advocacy to change the landscape of religious education. Hope to see a lot more Geshemas.”

Colleen in Australia wrote, “Sending blessings to all participating in these exams that they may succeed in passing. Blessings also to all teachers involved with passing on their knowledge. May all children receive blessings of education, and may all beings be free from suffering.”

Barbara from New Mexico, sent this message, “Good luck, and though you are studying hard, be sure to take time to eat and sleep! All of us out here are wishing you the best!”

Marci from the USA sent these words, “We know you will all do well. Many blessings and much gratitude for your efforts, each and every one. May you attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.”

If you would like to see all the messages of good luck and support, join the Tibetan Nuns Project Facebook page.

Nuns reading messages of support to the Geshema candidates

Nuns reading messages of support from other nuns to the Geshema candidates

The nuns themselves also wrote and shared letters, poems and messages of support to their sisters writing the exams.

poem of good luck written in Tibetan by a Buddhist nun

A good luck poem written by a fellow nun and posted on the noticeboard of Dolma Ling Nunnery in support of the nuns taking their Geshema exams.