Kelsang Wangmo

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Kelsang Wangmo
Kerstin Brummenbaum

ReligionTibetan Buddhism

Geshe Kelsang Wangmo is a German-born Buddhist nun, scholar, and teacher. She is the first woman to be awarded a Geshe title, considered equivalent to a Ph.D. in Buddhist philosophy.

Early life[edit]

She was raised in a Roman Catholic family in Lohmar, a small town between Cologne and Bonn in Germany. During her childhood, she attended church but grew uninterested in religion in her teens. After completing high school in 1989, she went on a backpacking trip. Travelling through Israel (where she stayed on a kibbutz), Turkey, Cyprus, Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan, she reached India. After visiting Kolkata, Varanasi, and Manali, she landed in Dharamshala. She had planned to stay for a couple of weeks before returning to start university, studying medicine. But eventually, she stayed on.[1]

Conversion to Buddhism[edit]

She joined an introduction to Buddhism course at Tushita Meditation Centre, at Dharamkot above McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh. She went on to study Buddhism seriously. She took ordination as a nun in April 1991. She later enrolled in the traditional geshe curriculum (a 16-year course) at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) in Dharamshala. In April 2011, the IBD conferred the degree of geshe, a Tibetan Buddhist academic degree for monastics, on her, thus making her the world's first female geshe.[2][3]

Since 2004, she has been teaching Buddhist philosophy classes in English in Dharamsala, following the curriculum of the IBD.[4]


  1. ^ Amy Yee. "Breaking Through". Lion's Roar-Buddhist's Wisdom for Our Time. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  2. ^ Haas, Michaela (2011-05-18). "2,500 Years After The Buddha, Tibetan Buddhists Acknowledge Women". Huffington Post.
  3. ^ "Geshe Kelsang Wangmo, An Interview with the World's First Female Geshe « Mandala Publications". Archived from the original on 2018-01-27. Retrieved 2014-08-25.
  4. ^ "The Teachers of Tushita". Retrieved June 19, 2015.

External links[edit]