Debate Endowment / Jang Gonchoe

In 2014, the Tibetan Nuns Project launched an Endowment Fund to support the annual month-long inter-nunnery debating session called Jang Gonchoe so that this vital educational opportunity may continue for years to come.

Each year in October, hundreds of nuns from about 8 nunneries in India and Nepal gather for a month-long intensive training session in Tibetan Buddhist debate.

By donating to the Debate Endowment Fund you are not only helping to preserve the Tibetan culture, but you are opening up a centuries-old tradition to the nuns and empowering them to become great teachers in their own right. The benefit of this is inestimable and will be an enduring legacy for generations to come.

To support the Debate Endowment Fund you can:

  1. Make a gift online – see below.
  2. Call our office in Seattle, US at 1-206-652-8901
  3. Mail a check to:
    The Tibetan Nuns Project
    (for Debate Endowment)
    815 Seattle Boulevard South #216
    Seattle, WA 98134 USA
  4. Donate securities
  5. Leave a gift in your will to the Tibetan Nuns Project

Give to Debate Endowment

You can download a description of the Jang Gonchoe Endowment Fund here.

Training in Tibetan Buddhist debate is an essential part of monastic education in the Tibetan tradition. Until recently, Tibetan nuns did not have the opportunity to fully study and practice Tibetan Buddhist debate, a process that joins logical thinking with a deeper understanding of Buddhist philosophy. Here’s a video made by the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute about the importance of monastic debate.

You can download a PDF with full details of the Jang Gonchoe Endowment Fund.

About the Jang Gonchoe

Historically, the Jang Gonchoe was held annually in Tibet by the great monastic institutions of Sera, Ganden, Drepung, Ratoe and Dakpo Shedrup Ling. The event was so named for Jang, the region in Tibet west of Lhasa where the month long inter-monastery debate originated, and Gonchoe, which is Tibetan for winter debate.

Until the 1990s, Tibetan Buddhist nuns were excluded from this form and level of education and the Tibetan Nuns Project has worked hard to open up this opportunity for the nuns and make debate a core part of their education.

Establishing a comparable debate session for nuns has been an integral part of the nuns reaching the level of excellence in their studies that they have. The practice of debate combines logical thinking with a deeper understanding of Buddhist philosophy and is an essential part of monastic education in the Tibetan tradition.

Jang Gonchoe debate by Tibetan Buddhist nuns 2013The Growth of the Nuns’ Jang Gonchoe

The number of nuns wanting to participate in the Jang Gonchoe is increasing steadily. At the Jang Gonchoe at Dolma Ling Nunnery & Institute in 2017, 376 nuns from 8 nunneries in India and Nepal took part in the event.

An average of 7 nunneries take part each year. All nunneries are welcome to join when they can. The main obstacle to wider participation is funding – for travel, food and accommodation for nuns to attend. To support this year’s debate event, you can make a donation here.

Since 2011, a nuns’ committee formed with two representatives from each participating nunnery has taken responsibility for making all the plans and arrangements for the session. The venue of the Jang Gonchoe site is rotated among the participating nunneries. It costs more when the debate session is held in Nepal or in South India because most of the nunneries are situated in North India.

The annual cost of the Jang Gonchoe varies from between about $15,000 and $30,000 depending on the location, the number of nuns participating, and the year. 

The Tibetan Nuns Project fundraises for $100 scholarships to enable nuns to take part. Each year, the Tibetan Nuns Project ensures that at least 25 nuns and two Buddhist philosophy teachers from each participating nunnery are sponsored to attend. As the number of nuns wanting to participate in the session is increasing steadily, when more than 25 from a particular nunnery wish to attend they have to find the funding individually or through their nunnery. The total number of extra nuns that can attend depends on the availability of accommodation in the host nunnery.

Enduring Legacy: Our Endowment for the Jang Gonchoe

The practice of debate takes many years to fully master, and it is critical to fostering the nun’s ability to assume roles as full qualified teachers of their tradition.

This is a unique opportunity to build capacity and equality for the nuns, to help ensure that a centuries-old tradition continues and expands to include the nuns, and to foster the dharma for future generations.

Some Words from the Nuns

“Last year the Jang Gonchoe was an excellent one. We debated till midnight each day. We were overjoyed to share our ideas and thoughts.  There were about 400 nuns and all were full with enthusiasm and eager to debate with one another.”
Tenzin Nyidon, Dolma Ling Nunnery & Institute

“I would like to thank you so much for supporting our education. It is all because of your support that I’m getting all these opportunities to study dharma in Dolma Ling. It has been 10 years now since I’m studying here.  It is only through debate and discussion with teachers and dharma friends that has helped me to improve my knowledge and understanding of the teaching in a much better way.”
Tenzin Chonyi, Dolma Ling Nunnery

You can download a PDF with full details of the Endowment Fund for the Jang Gonchoe

Learn more about the Tibetan Nuns Project.