History of Nuns
Karma Drubgyu Thargay Ling Nunnery ( Mahayana Buddhist Nunnery ) is located in Tilokpur, an Indian village about 20 miles south west of Dharamsala northwest India. It belongs to the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. At the request of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, an English women, Freda Bedi (later Gelongma Karma Khechog Palmo), founded this nunnery in 1962, in Dalhousie, in order to assist nuns arriving in India after escaping from the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
In 1968 the nunnery moved to its present location in Tilokpur which is considered an auspicious site because of the holy caves near the old nunnery in the villages where Mahasiddha Tilokpa, an Indian saint, is believed to have meditated.
In the beginning in 1968 there were 27 nuns. The number has increased and now there are 65 nuns, ranging in age from 8 to 76. Originally, all the nuns were from Tibet, but now they come from many other regions also, such as Kinnour, Arunchal Pradesh, Ladakh, Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal. Many are from very poor families. Since the village and the nunnery are in a remote locations, there are few visitors and the nunnery is not well known to many people.
In the earlier years, until the 1990, the nuns devoted most of their time to the study of Buddhist religious and philosophical writings, meditation, and prayer services. In addition there were daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning, and administrative work. Since the 1990s, there have been some important changes. Now the nuns are broader education, with special teachers and daily classes in Tibetan language, including grammar and composition, English language, Buddhist philosophy, and debate practice. Each month according to special days in the Tibetan lunar calendar, the nuns devote whole days to special prayers and worship services, fasting and meditation.
Over the years, as the numbers of nuns has grown the use of the buildings has also increased. However, the original buildings have not been substantially repaired or remodeled and the time is approaching when major reconstruction work must be undertaken. With the current number of nuns and increased activities the facilities are being used to their full capacity.
At present, the nunnery is not able to accommodate any more nuns even though there are many who would like to come here to continue their studies and meditation. It is important to do some major repair work and reconstruction in order to strengthen the existing buildings and to enlarge the facilities work needs to be done to make the buildings earthquake-proof, to provide better living quarters for the nuns and to expand the classroom and library space.
With the help of our friends and sponsors, we hope to embark on the important rebuilding and extension work in the near future, so that we can bring more nuns and visitors here. In the meantime our nuns continue to devote themselves to special prayers and worship services, meditation, and daily study.