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Lecture by Dorji Gyeltshen: And Now What? The Life, Status, and Education of Fully Ordained Nuns in Bhutan

November 16, 2023 @ 5:15 pm - 6:45 pm

A large group of Buddhist nuns wearing outer robes indicating they have received full ordination

New Cabell Hall 132

In June 23, 2022, the Jé Khenpo Tulku Jigmé Chodrak, the religious head of Bhutan, conferred full ordination vows on over 140 Buddhist nuns. The event took place at the request of the king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and was organized by the Bhutan Nuns Foundation. The bhikṣuṇī ordination restored the Mūlasarvāstivāda female lineage in the Himalayan tradition.

It is difficult to understate the importance of this event since, by most accounts, bhikṣuṇī ordination had never been introduced to Tibet or Bhutan, and nuns have only had access to novice status since the introduction of Buddhism in the region in the 7th Century. This talk will discuss how this ceremony and the newly achieved bhikṣuṇī status has impacted the lives of Bhutanese nuns and nunneries by sharing recent research that includes extensive interviews with several newly fully ordained nuns and leaders at the Bhutan Nuns Foundation, and visits to some of the nunneries affected by this change.

Dorji Wangchuk is Professor at the Jigme Singye Wangchuk School of Law in Paro, Bhutan. More information on his scholarship and teaching is available on his faculty profile.

This talk is co-sponsored by the UVA Tibet Center and Bhutan Initiative, the East Asia Center, and the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion (VCSR).

Photo (c) Tashi Zangmo


November 16, 2023
5:15 pm - 6:45 pm


New Cabell Hall 132
1605 Jefferson Park Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22904 United States
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Tibet Center, University of Virginia
East Asia Center, University of Virginia
Virginia Center for the Study of Religion