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Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo


The most senior Western Tibetan Buddhist nun alive


Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo belongs to the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school. She is a founder of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India.

She is a brilliant teacher who is able to touch the hearts of many with her presence, her profound understanding of the Dharma, and its relevance and application in daily life. She is also a powerful voice for female Buddhist practitioners.

In 1976 Tenzin Palmo commenced living in a cave in the Himalayas measuring 10 feet wide and six feet deep and remained there for 12 years, for three of which she was in full retreat. The cave was high in the remote Lahaul area of the Indian Himalayas, on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Tibet.


In the course of the retreat she grew her own food and practised deep meditation based on ancient Buddhist beliefs. In accordance with protocol, she never lay down, sleeping in a traditional wooden meditation box in a meditative posture for just three hours a night. The last three years were spent in complete isolation. She survived temperatures of below −30° Fahrenheit (−35°C) and snow for six to eight months of the year.

In February 2008 Tenzin Palmo was given the rare title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, Head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in recognition of her spiritual achievements as a nun and her efforts in promoting the status of female practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism.

“I took the vow to attain enlightenment in a female body, no matter how many lifetimes it may take.”

— Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

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