These are the founding members of The Alliance of Non-Himalayan Nuns,
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was raised in London. In 1964, aged 20, she traveled to India to pursue her spiritual path and met her guru, His Eminence the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist Lama. She became one of the first Westerners to ordain as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. The inspiring story of her life, including 12 years of secluded retreat in a Himalayan cave, is the subject of the biography, Cave in the Snow.
A popular Buddhist teacher, she presents the Dharma in an accessible manner to audiences across the world.
Jetsunma is Founder and Abbess of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in H.P. where some 100 young women, from the Himalayan region receive monastic training.
In 2008 Tenzin Palmo was given the title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, Head of her lineage. She is President of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women.
Geshe Kelsang Wangmo
Geshe Kelsang Wangmo was raised in a Catholic family in Germany. She attended church but grew uninterested in religion in her teens. After completing high school in 1989, she went on an extensive backpacking trip, which included India. She had planned to stay for a couple of weeks before returning to start university, studying medicine. But eventually, she stayed on.
She joined an introduction to Buddhism course at Tushita Meditation Centre in Dharamshala. She went on to study Buddhism seriously. She took ordination as a nun in April 1991. She later enrolled in the traditional Geshe curriculum (a 16-year course, considered equivalent to a Ph. D. in Buddhist philosophy) at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) in Dharamshala. In 2011, the IBD conferred the degree of Geshe, a Tibetan Buddhist academic degree for monastics, on her, thus making her the world’s first female Geshe. Since 2004, she has been teaching Buddhist philosophy classes in English in Dharamsala, following the curriculum of the IBD.
Tsunma Tenzin Sangmo
Tsunma Sangmo was born and raised in The Netherlands and worked as a nurse prior to becoming a nun. She ordained in 1997 with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. After meeting Buddhist monks from Ganden Monastery in her home country, she was inspired to explore Buddhism and quickly felt like she was ‘home’. Soon after, she moved to India determined to spend her life in a good way focused on the Dharma.
The idea of building a nunnery for non-Himalayan nuns had been discussed within the Tibetan Buddhist community for many years as there was no space for western nuns to live and practice. Well-respected teachers – including His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – indicated that building a nunnery supportive to international nuns in India would be of great benefit.
In October 2000, she began putting the pieces together to build what would eventually become Thosamling Nunnery & Institute. Thanks to generous donors from around the world, land was purchased in 2002 and construction began on 4 January, 2003.
Due to Tsunma Sangmo’s many years of dedication and hard work, western and international nuns now have a place to study and practice in India. Today, Thosamling Nunnery is a growing resident community of nuns offering teachings and courses for nuns and lay people alike.