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Women & Religion

Dagmola Kusho Sakya (1936- )

  • When she was little, she was given the rare chance of a fine education, offered normally only to monks. She was the only female in her class full of monks.
  • Her uncle was seen by many people as a Buddha, and for him to see special qualities in her meant even more, so he continued to guide her.
  • From here she went on a pilgrimage to Sakya, where she was courted by a religious nobleman. This man soon became her husband.
  • She left Tibet with her uncle, husband, and three boys and came here to the United States. Since being here, Dagmola Kusho Sakya has devoted herself to raising her boys, assisting her husband in his religious activities, and secretly devoted herself inwardly to spiritual practice with the guidance of her uncle.


Coupez, Lori. "H.E. Jamyang Dagmo Kusho." H.E. Jamyang Dagmo Kusho. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. <>. 


Haas, Mivhaela . "10 Tibetan Buddhist Women You Need to Know." The Huffington Post, 20 Mar. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.


Jestun Khandro Rinpoche (1968- )

  • Born in 1968 India, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, along with her mother and sister, were the only women in her father’s monastery of a near 400 Buddhist monks.
  • she has the title of Jetsun, a Jestun, or Jetsunma, is a female tradition, line… “It is a line of many great female masters known as the Jetsünmas, daughters of various Mindrolling Trichens over the years.”
  • She’s widely recognized as this, “…one of the rare, female Tibetan Buddhist lamas who have had the privileged education and recognition of many of her male contemporaries.”
  • She travels universally spreading the same message everywhere she goes; she consistently encourages women to seek the potential in themselves, to search for opportunities to use their innate sense of sensitivity and love to heal people, and to heal the world.


"A Needle, Compassionately Sticking Out Of A Cushion." Dakini Power:Extraordinary Women Shaping The Transmission Of Buddhism In The West, 2016 Mindrolling International, Accessed 9 November 2016.


“Events.” Tulku Dakpa Rinpoche,


"Female Masters Of Mindrolling." Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, 2016 Mindrolling International, Accessed 9 November 2016.


"Khandro Rinpoche." The Writers Directory, St. James Press, 2016. Biography in Context, Accessed 12 Mar. 2017.


Regan, J. "The Soaring and (Final) Settling of Rita Gross 1943–2015." Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, vol. 32 no. 2, 2016, pp. 5-10. Project MUSE,

Jesunma Tenzin Palmo (1943- )

  • She “became one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun” (tenzinpalmo).
  • She moved to Italy to teach at a variety of Dharma centers.
  • After Jetsunma’s guru passed away she had decided to start up a nunnery that he had been asking her to pursue. In 2000, almost 20 years later, the first nuns began to arrive and in 2001, construction of the nunnery began.
  • In 2008, she was given her title of Jetsunma meaning venerable master. She was given this title to recognize her spiritual achievements and her efforts to promote the status of females practicing in Tibetan Buddhism.


“Buddhist Masters and Their Organisations: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo.” Buddhist Masters and Their Organisations: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo,


“Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery. “ Tenzin Palmo. Dongyu Gatsal Ling, 2009. Web. 11 Nov 2016.


"today's radio; 17 July Sunday." Daily Mail [London, England], 16 July 2016, p. 34. Biography in Context, Accessed 11 Mar. 2017.

Mahapajapati Gotami (Lived around the 6th to 4th century BC)

  • She worked hard to fought for more gender equality in the Buddhist temples
  • She was Buddha’s stepmother- showed that Buddha cared about women becoming equal
  • She became the first ordained nun
  • She is most known for her importance in raising Buddha along with her efforts for more allowance of females to reach a higher level of Buddhism


Analayo. "Mahapajapati's going forth in the Madhyama-agama." Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 18

(2011): 268+. Academic OneFile. Web. 8 Nov. 2016.


"Buddha." Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, edited by Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, 2014. Credo Reference, Accessed 12 Mar 2017.



Sadao. “016 Meditating Bhikkhuni (9179357225).Jpg.” Commons wikimedia, 22 Aug. 2016,

Sangye Khandro (1953- )

  • Sangye Khandro, also known as Nanci Gay Gustafson, traveled to Dharamsala, India to begin her Tibetan Buddhist studies.
  • She was one of the first western students of Buddhism to study in the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.
  • Nanci Gay helped establish the Nechung Drayang Ling Buddhist temple in Hawaii where she brought in well known Buddhist teachers.
  • Finally, she contributed to the spread of Buddhism in America by opening up Buddhist Centers, which also helped bring the two languages of English and Tibetan together.


Gutschow, Kim. "Sangye Khandro." Being a Buddhist Nun: The Struggle for Enlightenment in the Himalayas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2004. 274+. Print. “Summer Retreat 2016: Troma Nagmo w Sangye Khandro.” Summer Retreat 2016: Troma Nagmo w Sangye Khandro | Santa Cruz, California | Vajrayana Foundation,

Sister Dhammadinna (1882-1967)

  • Sister Dhammadinna was born in the United States and was a part of the religion of Buddhism.
  • In 1951, Dhammadinna visited Australia and became the first Buddhist nun to do so. Although she had little money and no security for her adventure to Australia, she managed to survive there for eleven months. In her short time in Australia, she presented the Dhamma (or Dharma) to Europeans and taught them everything there was to learn about it.
  • She also conducted the very first Vesak ceremony in the country.
  • “Dhammadinna’s visit resulted in the formation of the Buddhist Society of New South Wales which is the oldest Buddhist organization in Australia” (Adam, 2000).
  • Because of Sister Dhammadinna, Buddhist women today are trying to spread the religious roles of Australian Buddhism and are wanting to further its development. Sister Dhammadinna will forever hold significance in Australian.


Adam, E. (2000). Buddhist Women in Australia. Joural of Global Buddhism, 138-143.


“SISTER DHAMMADINA.”, Accessed 14 Mar. 2017.


“Sister Dhammadinna, American born Theravada nun.”, ABC, 27 Nov. 2014, Accessed 13 Mar. 2017.


“Venerable Dhammadinna.” The Mountain Hermitage,

Pema Chödrön (1936- )

  • Pema Chödrön was born in New York City during the year of 1936 as Deirdre Blomfield- Brown.
  • Chödrön was asked to fill the role of director in the first Tibetan monastery within North America. Here, her goal was to teach a westernized form of Buddhism to the people of North America.
  • Through her words, in various forms, she is able to spread her teaching of Buddhism to the world.
  • Pema has devoted her life since her mid-thirties to finding peace for herself as well as spreading her knowledge to every person she is able to reach.


"Home." The Pema Chodron Foundation. The Pema Chodron Foundation, 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.


"Pema Chodron." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Biography in Context. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.


"Pema Chödrön." The Writers Directory, St. James Press, 2016. Biography in Context, Accessed 12 Mar. 2017.


“Pema chodron 2007 cropped.Jpg.” Commons wikimedia, 28 May 2007,


Zenkei Blanche hartman (1926-2016)

  • She was born in 1926 in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Hartman was particularly known for her affinity to advocating for women and children. According to Rosemary Skinner in the Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America, Hartman had many teachings dedicated to women, and held all-female practice in a temple.
  • She has also remembered children lost to miscarriages and abortions by performing rituals with the grieving mothers around the Jizo bodhisattva, a protector of children and savior of souls.
  • There is no coincidence that Zenkei, her Buddhist name, translates to “inconceivable joy”. 


Pilato, Ron. "Living Deeply: The Art & Science Of Transformation In Everyday Life." Journal Of Transpersonal Psychology, 42.1 (2010): 115-118. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.


 Salzberg, Jogen. “Zenkei Blanche Hartman.Jpg.” Commons wikimedia, 11 Mar. 2008,


Skinner Keller, Rosemary; Rosemary Radford Ruether; Marie Cantlon (2006). The Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America. Indiana University Press. p. 643.

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