Palmo, Jetsunma Tenzin

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Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is a bhikṣuṇī in the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. She is an author, teacher and founder of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India.

Diane Perry grew up in London's East End. At the age of 18 however, she read a book on Buddhism and realised that this might fill a long-sensed void in her life...

In 1963, at the age of 20, she went to India and met her root guru, His Eminence the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage.

In 1976 she secluded herself in a remote cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, where she stayed for 12 years between the ages of 33 and 45. In this mountain hideaway she faced unimaginable cold, wild animals, floods, snow and rockfalls, grew her own food and slept in a traditional wooden meditation box, three feet square - she never lay down. In 1988 she emerged from the cave with a determination to build a convent in northern India to revive the Togdenma lineage, a long-forgotten female spiritual elite. (Source: Cave in the Snow, Bloomsbury, 1999.)

In 2001 construction began at the Padhiarkar site for the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery. H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche gave the nunnery the name Dongyu Gatsal Ling, which translates as “Garden of the Authentic Lineage”.

In February 2008 Tenzin Palmo was given the rare title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, Head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in recognition of her spiritual achievements as a nun and her efforts in promoting the status of female practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism.

Tenzin Palmo spends most of the year at Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery and occasionally tours to give teachings and raise funds for the ongoing needs of the DGL nuns and Nunnery.

In addition to her role as Founding Director of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery, Jetsunma is a former President of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women, Founding Director of the Alliance of Non Himalayan Nuns, Honorary Advisor to the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, co-president of the International Buddhist Confederation [IBC], and Founding Member of the Committee for Bhiksuni Ordination.

To find out more about Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s life, read Vicki Mackenzie’s biography Cave in the Snow published by Bloomsbury, and see the ‘Cave in the Snow’ DVD directed by Liz Thompson and narrated by Rachel Ward. (Source:

  • Books:
    • 1999. Cave in the Snow: A Western Woman's Quest for Enlightenment, Bloomsbury.
    • 2002. Reflections on a Mountain Lake, Shambhala Publications.
    • 2011. Into the Heart of Life, Snow Lion Publications.

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