History & Purpose of Thrangu Tara Abbey
Thrangu Tara Abbey is a nunnery established for Buddhist nuns by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. It is located in Swayambunath on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Swayambu is a special spiritual place named after the famous Swayambu Stupa. Many monasteries, temples and a large community of Tibetans are nearby.
In 1991, the first group of 17 nuns arrived from the province of Manang, Nepal, near the Tibetan border. The nuns were affiliated with Thrangu Rinpoche. The head nuns, Ani Tsomo and Ani Karma Drolma, are sisters of one of Rinpoche’s main lamas, Lama Aju. Their ancestors were founders and keepers of the Buddhist tradition in Manang since ancient times.
When the nuns first arrived, they lived in a monastery owned by the Manangi community. In 1992 land was purchased and the nuns hauled bricks and labored until 1995 when they moved into the first wing of hostel rooms, a kitchen and temporary shrine room. A second wing was finished in 1998 along with a larger shrine room.
Through the generosity of sponsors, construction of the temple began in January 2001 between the two wings. The completed temple houses a large shrine room, library, Nunye shrine room, Tara shrine room, a small suite for Thrangu Rinpoche, some housing for special guests, and the nuns’ dining room on the ground floor. The temple consecration was in December 2008. Tara Abbey also has a monastic college for Higher Buddhist Studies.
The nuns have a playground with a court for basketball, volleyball and badminton. Beside this area is a workshop with machinery to make Tibetan medicine from herbs gathered in the Himalayas.
Most of the more than 230 nuns come from the northern areas of Nepal but many also come from Tibet, India and Bhutan. Sometimes nuns from Asian countries and the west stay at the Abbey.
Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche had long held the intention to establish a monastic center for women to make available to them the full range of monastic, liturgical, philosophical and meditation training available to monks. With this training, they will be able to teach both in the east and the west thereby helping to preserve and propagate the Buddha’s teachings. In a world where women are becoming stronger, more educated and more involved in all spheres including religion, the development of female teachers is important. As the nuns increasingly become both scholars and yogis, they will be a source of inspiration to both women and men.