The following article is from the Spring, 1990 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Formerly Known as Naljorma - the Nun's Project

Tibetan Buddhist nun

Virtually all Tibetan nuns in India are either refugees or the daughters of refugees. Conditions in the monasteries, nunneries and refugees settlements of India are at best primitive. The average family income is quite small, and most ordained Buddhists have few sources of support, so nuns generally face serious economic hardship and can afford little for food, clothing or other possessions. Health is also a serious problem: tuberculosis and malnutrition (due to the poverty of the diet) are endemic.

Women practitioners also live the additional burden of being female in a culture which, like our own, devalues them for it. Although Tibetan Buddhism does affirm that women and men are equally capable of reaching enlightenment, the secular culture undermines this view (the word for woman in Tibetan literally translates as lower birth). Therefore it is an unfortunate commonplace that nuns receive poorer education, funding and facilities than the monks. Yet they too are sincere and dedicated practitioners.

Buddhist nunsNALJORMA (the Tibetan word for yogini-woman cultivating enlightenment) worked towards a better life for these women through a sponsorship program which paired each nun with a Western supporter for $10 to $20 a month (or according to what one could afford).


Funds support a Tibetan nun to:

  • Fill out her diet with better, more healthful foods
  • Afford health care when ill
  • Purchase textbooks and other educational materials which are ordinarily too expensive
  • Work towards becoming economically self-sufficient

Buddhist nuns at the marketSponsored nuns were generally eager to learn about their sponsors and glad of the chance to correspond (English is one of the subjects taught in the nunneries). Most sponsors found this aspect of the program to be a gratifying opportunity to learn about a joyously extraordinary way of life.


NALJORMA was a program of Gaden Relief Projects, a charitable organization, and is happy to issue tax-deductible receipts for any donations you make to the project.

Gaden Relief is constantly working to support nunneries in need. Although, each project is met with challenges, every contribution made helps make a sustainable difference in these women's lives.

Buddhist nuns Puja means buddhist or hindu prayingFor up-to-date information and a list of current supported projects visit: Gaden Relief Projects

Zanskar Project

Jammu & KashmirDeep within the folds of the Indian Himalayas in Zangskar (or Zanskar on many Indian maps), a subdistrict of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, are ten nunneries supported by Gaden Relief’s Zangskar Project.


For more information:

Yeshe Tsogyal

Yeshe Tsogyal is perhaps one of the most well-known female practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. A beloved disciple and partner of Padmasambhava, Tsogyal achieved great realization and became a teacher herself.

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