You can send good luck messages to the nuns taking Geshema exams in August 2019. To send a message of support to the Geshema candidates, post a comment below on this blog. We’ll compile all the messages and share them with the nuns before their exams.
The rigorous examination process takes four years and are the culmination of a rigorous 17-year course of study.
From August 1-12, 2019, 51 Tibetan Buddhist nuns will sit various levels of their Geshema exams. The nuns taking their exams this year come from four different nunneries: Dolma Ling, Geden Choeling, Jangchup Choeling, and Kopan Nunnery.
The examinees have already gathered at Jangchup Choeling Nunnery in Mundgod for their special one-month pre-exam study time.
Here’s a little video about the 2018 Geshema exams. [Can’t see the video? Click here.]
In August 2019, there will be:
- 24 nuns taking their first-year exams
- 9 nuns doing their 2nd year
- 11 nuns doing their 3rd year
- 7 Geshema candidates doing their fourth and final year of exams (The initial number was 8, but one nun dropped out at the end of July.)
All being well, there will be 8 new Geshema graduates this fall. The graduation ceremony will be held at the end of the 2019 Jang Gonchoe Inter-nunnery debate in November.
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. Recently, two Geshemas were hired as teachers at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute.
We are still seeking $1,276 to complete the funding for the 2019 Geshema exams.
Donations are needed to cover the costs of the nuns’ travel to and from the exams and for their food during the exams and for the one-month study session before the exams. You can learn more and donate here.
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.