Sakya College for Nuns

The inauguration of the Sakya College for Nuns on September 26, 2009 ushered in a new era for Sakya nuns.

For the first time, the nuns could engage in higher Buddhist studies at a dedicated facility. They are able to pursue Buddhist studies for up to 15 years at the Sakya College for Nuns, earning the highest degrees in the Sakya tradition.

Sakya College for Nuns is situated in Manduwala, about 12 miles from Dehradun and is home to 63 nuns. The head of the Sakya College for monks, Khenchen Gyatso, came up with the idea of converting an under-utilized retreat complex into an institution where nuns could study. His Holiness Sakya Trizin welcomed his idea, and Khenchen Gyatso approached the Tibetan Nuns Project in 2006 for assistance.

Sakya College for Nuns near DehradunThe Tibetan Nuns Project agreed to find sponsors for all the nuns and to assist with teachers’ salaries. The nuns follow the same curriculum as the Sakya College monks, graduating with equal degrees.

Education at Sakya College for Nuns

As the nuns advance through their training, they are able to earn a series of degrees. Those completing seven years of study earn the Kachupa degree, and after two more years attain the Lopon degree. Those who complete 13 years of study, including an examination and the composition and defence of an original thesis, are awarded the Rabjampa degree. Finally, those completing a further two years of study in tantra receive the highest degree of Ngagrampa. Those who have completed all levels of study and a final round of examinations are awarded the highest title of “Khenmo”.

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A group of nuns at Sakya College for Nuns, 2017.

nuns practice debate at Sakya College for Nuns

Each afternoon the nuns practice debate, refining their knowledge of what they learned in class that morning. 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.