There is no doubt that the Drukpa Lineage promotes gender equality amongst its practitioners. In the past female practitioners found it difficult to receive teachings and nuns were mostly neglected or treated as servants in the monastic environment. When He discovered this in the early years Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, the current lineage holder, was very sad and secretly promised himself that within His life He would try his best to promote gender equality and ensure that female practitioners receive the same attention and support as their male counterparts.
Starting with 15 young Ladakhi nuns in 1992 the community of female practitioners was gradually formed as more girls from remote Himalayan regions took vows with His Holiness so that they could dedicate their entire life to practice and to bring benefit to many less fortunate beings.
In 1999 about 40 nuns from Ladakh were sent by His Holiness to live in a village next to Druk Amitabha Mountain, one of the mountains surrounding the spiritually blessed Kathmandu valley, in Nepal. Despite the very difficult living conditions the nuns practiced with unwavering devotion and dedication. It was a testing period that they endured with great joy. His Holiness then decided to dedicate Druk Amitabha mountain for the benefit of female practitioners and the Druk Gawa Khilwa community was born.
His Holiness's nuns now number over 500 and are mostly based at Druk Amitabha Mountain.
Druk Gawa Khilwa, Kathmandu, on Druk Amitabha Mountain, is the main training centre and currently, the administration headquarter of all the nunneries in the Himalayas
Druk Gawa Khilwa, Kortsa, located in a remote mountainous area in Ladakh, is one of the main retreat centres for the nuns
Druk Gawa Khilwa, Shey, Ladakh, occupying the Naropa Palace (Naro Phodrang) in the compound of the Druk White Lotus School (also known as Druk Padma Karpo Institute), is one of the practice centres to support the locals and school children in their daily spiritual practice and development
Druk Gawa Khilwa, Lahaul, recently established, will also be a practice centre to support locals in their spiritual practice and development
Those nuns who are in solitary retreat stay in Kortsa and those who are learning Buddhist philosophy, rituals, English, Tibetan and ceremonial dances and receiving training are staying in Kathmandu. At any one time the nuns are divided into two groups, taking turns to learn and practice in either locations. Some of the experienced nuns are stationed in our Shey and Lahaul branches, to support and teach the locals in their spiritual practice, especially in recitation, rituals and meditation.
In October 2007, His Holiness handpicked six nuns to start them on the practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa. He had initially hoped to send them to H.E. Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche to be trained under the latter's guidance. Sadly, Rinpoche passed away unexpectedly in July 2007. Now, His Holiness has taken upon himself to train qualified nuns who have completed a certain number of preliminary practices, so that they will eventually be qualified to undertake Tantric Buddhist practices which will lead them on the path of enlightenment, within one lifetime.