BUDDHIST FEMINISM IN LADAKH [3/14]
Julichen Nunnery is only 2 km away from Rizong Gompa, the main monastery to which it is subordinate. The nuns have to work hard from dawn to dusk to support Rizong Gompa’s economic needs, with no return but being taken care of by the Governing Body of the main Monastery.
“The nuns serve as the worker bees in the monastic hive, which is over seen by monks engaged in their ritual ministrations” (Gutschow).
Ladakh (Himalayas) is one of the most elevated inhabited areas in the world, almost inaccessible to the outer world until the second half of the twentieth century. It is a land of climate extremes, and the population, living in such harsh conditions, has devised survival strategies to keep population growth low. Practices and customs such as primogeniture privileges, fraternal poliandry and monasticism have maintained a balance between man and nature.
In Ladakh, gender roles do not diverge much, even in adulthood.
Yet, in monasticism the status of women (nuns) has not been considered particularly high, as compared to that of monks.
An interesting instance is provided by Julichen Nunnery, where the nuns have always been working hard to support the economic needs of Rizong Gompa, a male Monastery 2 km from Julichen.
Gutschow, Kim (2004), Being a Buddhist nun: the struggle for enlightenment in the Himalayas, Harvard University Press;
Grimshaw, Anna, “Servants of the Buddha: Winter in an Himalayan Convent”, in Himalayan Research Bulletin XV (2), 1995.