A Singing Saint

Buddhism has come in for some understandable criticism because women so often have played a secondary role in its history. I was delighted today to discover an amazing nun who happens to belong to my own Dzogchen Buddhist lineage. Ani Choying Drolma, who is Nepalese, has become famous as a meditative singer and musician in much of the world, but we in the United States know little of her.

The video below — an hour-long interview with her, which includes some of her music –brought me just the message I needed today. Here is the Youtube introduction to the video:

Ani Choying Drolma, the founder of the Nuns Welfare Foundation of Nepal, was born in 1971 in Nepal. At the age of 13, she joined Nagi Gompa, a Buddhist nunnery on Shivapuri Mountain on the northern slope of the Kathmandu valley. Her education and spiritual training was supervised by the renowned meditation master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. She was educated in Buddhist meditation, chants, rituals and ceremonies and quickly advanced to the position of the chanting master in the nunnery.

Ani Choying DrolmaLater, she resigned from this position to become Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s personal health attendant and served him until his parinirvana (passing away) in February 1996. From seeing Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s altruistic life-style, always giving to others, without considering his own welfare, she developed a sincere desire to use whatever capacities she has to benefit beings as much as possible. Because Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche himself held nuns in the same regard as monks, Ani Choying Drolma believes that creating more opportunities for nuns to study and to develop their own capacities for skillful and compassionate action is the best way she can dedicate herself to her teacher’s vision throughout her life. She is committed to do whatever she can to promote the advancement of nuns, not only for their own benefit but because they will then be better prepared to serve and benefit others.

Ani Choying Drolma is an internationally reputed singer of Buddhist hymns and chants who has toured extensively in North America, Asia and Europe. A philanthropist dedicated to the welfare of Buddhist nuns, who founded the Arya Tara School in the year 2000 for nuns. The school runs with the help of proceeds from her concerts tours, CD sales and donation.

My Tibetan dharma name is Urgyan Jigme. The latter word, my given name, means “Fearless Lotus.” The first word, Urgyen, is my lineage name — the lineage of Dzogchen teachers who bring me their wisdom. Today, I proudly begin using the full Tibetan version of the name.

— Mel Pine (Urgyen Jigme)

Copyright 2016 © Mel Harkrader Pine

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