Thank you to everyone who sent good luck messages to the nuns taking their Geshema exams this summer! We’ve compiled all the messages and will share them with the nuns before the exams begin on August 7th.
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.
Due to the pandemic, the Geshema exams were cancelled in 2020 and 2021. The nuns have been waiting for a long time for this educational opportunity. The candidates are gathering on July 6th at Geden Choeling Nunnery for a month of final exam preparations.
Here’s a little video about the 2018 Geshema exams. [Can’t see the video? Click here.]
Geshes and Geshemas are the most educated monastics, carrying much of the responsibility for preserving the Tibetan religion and culture.
The Geshemas are paving the way for other nuns to follow in their footsteps. This degree makes them eligible to assume various leadership roles in their monastic and lay communities reserved for degree holders and hence previously not open to women.
Some Short Facts About the Geshema Degree
- The Geshema Degree is roughly equivalent to a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy. For males, it is called the Geshe degree.
- It is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.
- Until recently, this highest degree could only be earned by monks.
- In 2011, a German nun, Kelsang Wangmo, who spent 21 years training in India, became the first female to receive the Geshema title.
- The historic decision to confer the Geshema degree to Tibetan Buddhist nuns was announced in 2012 by the Department of Religion and Culture of the Tibetan Administration, following a meeting of representatives from six major nunneries, Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, and the Tibetan Nuns Project.
- Candidates for the Geshema degree are examined on the entirety of their 17-year course of study of the Five Great Canonical Texts.
- To qualify to begin the Geshema process, nuns must score 75% or above in their studies to be eligible to sit for the Geshema exams.
- On December 22, 2016, His Holiness the Dalai Lama awarded 20 Tibetan Buddhist nuns with Geshema degrees at a special graduation ceremony held at Drepung Monastery in Mundgod, South India.