oaioai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.470.2314

THE THIRD DRAGKAR LAMA: AN IMPORTANT FIGURE FOR FEMALE MONASTICISM IN THE BEGINNING OF TWENTIETH CENTURY KHAM

Abstract

esearch on Tibetan nuns and nunneries is still in its infancy, and suffers from many shortcomings. One of the reasons for this situation is the lack of historical materials, be it texts written by Tibetan nuns or on their behalf. Even among the vast corpus of Tibetan biographies (rnam thar) and autobiographies (rang rnam), very few concern women, and even fewer nuns.1 The same is true for the history of nunneries, so that for instance we have to rely on some highly mythical foundation stories, such as Gari Nunnery (Gar ri a ne dgon pa) near Lhasa (Lha sa), which oral history attributes to Phadampa Sangye (Pha dam pa Sangs rgyas, eleventh or twelfth century) without any historic evidence. Some scholars have suggested that women disappeared from the official narrative with the establishment of the Buddhist schools and the canonisation of Tibetan translations of Buddhist literature. These developments gave society a markedly clerical and patriarchal character.2 Others think the hegemony of the celibate Gelugpa (dge lugs pa) school, which started at the beginning of the fifteenth century and culminated in the seventeenth century with the arrival of the Fifth Dalai Lama, may have been at the origin of the disappearance of women from the religious spheres and in the same time from literature.3 All the more surprising is the fact that we can find at least two lamas (bla ma) from a small Gelugpa lineage in Kham (Khams) who were very supportive of the development of nuns and nunneries in their region from the eighteenth century on. The name of their lineage is Dragkar (Brag dkar), “White rock, ” after their monastery’s name, Dragkar Jangchubling (Brag dkar byang chub gling), situated few kilometres away from the city centre of Kandze (Dkar mdzes), located in modern Sichuan. The objective of this article is to present findings on the history of nuns and their nunneries based on the reading of the Third Dragkar Lama’s writings in this light

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oaioai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.470.2314Last time updated on 10/28/2017

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