In an event held for the first time for nuns in Tibetan areas of China, a convent in southwestern China’s Sichuan province has hosted a traditional Jang Gunchoe, or Winter Teaching, drawing hundreds of participants from seven nunneries across Sichuan and neighboring Qinghai, a Tibetan source says.
The event, which ran from Sept. 4 to Sept. 9, was held at Ganden Shedrub Choephel Ling in Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Sershul (Siqu) county and featured debates on Buddhist logic and other aspects of religious philosophy, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
Also taking part were several senior male religious instructors, called Geshes, who were invited from nearby monasteries to observe the debates and offer guidance for the future, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Many of them came from Sershul, Nyaktso, and Lab,” the source said, adding, “They applauded the organization of the first-ever Jang Gunchoe held for nuns and encouraged the nuns to continue the tradition.”
“Following the advice of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama, many such efforts are being initiated by people living in Tibetan areas to restore, maintain, and foster the Tibetan language, culture, and religion,” he said.
The five-day series of teachings and debates held at the convent was followed separately next day by an eight-day Jang Gunchoe hosted by Drakkar monastery in Qinghai that drew hundreds of Buddhist monks from 48 monasteries around the region, sources told RFA.
Monks from Tibet’s Bon tradition also took part in the gathering, the 13th to be held at Drakkar.
Teachings at Kirti
Meanwhile, at Ngaba (Aba) prefecture’s Kirti monastery, frequently a scene of monks’ protests against Chinese rule, 23 religious scholars representing 16 monasteries gathered beginning Sept. 12 for a three-day conference on the writings of Tsongkhapa, the fourteenth-century founder of Tibet’s Geluk tradition.
More than 300 monks, along with their own teachers, attended the discussions and debates, a local source told RFA.
Public assemblies at monasteries in Tibetan regions of China have greatly increased in size in recent years, observers and participants say, as tens of thousands of Tibetans gather to assert their national and cultural identity in the face of Chinese domination.
Chinese security forces, fearful of sudden protests by Tibetans opposed to Beijing’s rule, frequently monitor and sometimes close down events involving large crowds, sources say.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin and Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.