Mahayana Nuns Invited to Return to Shravasti for the Rains Retreat in 2020

In 2018 His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, Supreme Head of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage, established the Great Shravasti International Buddhist Cultural Assembly. Beginning in 2019, he will host annual Varsa or Rains Retreats, each year a different international assembly of an era of Buddhism. In July 2019 Venerable Bhikkus from Theravada  countries began the first retreat.

In 2020,the Bhikshuni Sangha is invited to return to Shravasti India July 3 – Oct 3 for the first time in 2000 years. There we form a harmonious international Mahayana Dharmaguptaka Varsa retreat exploring: Precepts, Samadhi, Wisdom. The retreat will contribute to Sangha education, diligent practice and openhearted intrafaith sharing.

This retreat is fully sponsored by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche.

Shravasti is one of the four avijahitatthanam – ‘unchangeable spots’ in the lives of all Samma Sambuddhas. This is the holy place where our Supreme Buddha spent 25 Vassas or summer rain retreats. The remains of Jetavana monastery and Purvaram Vihara and the Ananda Bodhi tree are inspiring places to worship and remember the Supreme Buddha who preached many discourses in this place. 

A Mahayana monastery has been built about 1 KM from this holy spot by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and inaugurated in 2018.  The main purpose of this program is to bring together Mahayana Bhiksunis in the Dharmaguptaka  tradition from different countries and traditions and live harmoniously for one Vassa and learn from each other, and to vitalize the power of Dhamma in this new monastery for the good of future monastic and laity. 

We respectfully with folded palms invite the Venerable Bhikshunis of Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, China and the West to take up Varsa in this holy place of SAVATTHI, India, where Supreme Buddha spent 25 Varsas. 

Wangmo Dixey of the Light of the Buddha Dharma International Foundation, has invited the bhikshunis to join the Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha Pilgrimage following the retreat. 

The program will host 64 Bhikshunis, from the countries of Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan, China and US/Europe. The nuns will be guided by Elders representing Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan, China and the United States.  There are suitable places for meditation, study and Sima for bhikshuni procedures. It will be a rare opportunity for bhikshunis from different countries to live together and share their knowledge and experiences on the path of Dharma. Shared double rooms are available. Medical care and all other needs for the Bhikshunis will be provided. The transportation from respective countries will be provided along with healthy food and pure water. 


Lead by Khenmo Drolma of Vajra Dakini Nunnery, we have formed a bhikshuni planning team; Ven. Thubten Chonyi of Shravasti Abbey and Ven Chang Hwa of The Chan Meditation Center of New York, a Dharma Drum Temple. All senior nuns in their tradition, they along with a diverse advisors, are outlining the outreach process and curriculum. They are actively gathering support with monastery visits, at conferences, and with advised referrals. Public press releases will be ready shortly and an application process is being designed.

The retreat is divided into three sections: Precepts, Samadhi, Wisdom. The first portion Precepts,  is designated for Vinaya Study and will have a team of esteemed teachers from different Monasteries. The team will have different areas of Vinaya expertise and there will be both practice and discussion time.  Ven Guo Kai, of the Dharma Drum tradition in Taiwan, Ven. Thubten Chodron of Shravasti Abbey in the US and Ven. Heng Ching of the National Taiwan University have agreed to lead the Vinaya teaching team.

The second portion of the retreat will be Samadhi. We are inviting senior teachers from the participating monasteries/traditions to be responsible for approximately one week of successive silent retreats for five weeks and or a significant text accompanied by meditation. They each will lead a week of practice in the style of their tradition. For example, we will invite Dharma Drum to conduct a retreat of their Silent Illumination or Hautou meditation style. From the Drikung Kagyu we will have a week on the new Shravasti Curriculum that uses the Anapanasati Sutra as a base to present the three yanas including beginning mahamudra instructions.

The third portion, Wisdom,  will encourage community and reflection on 21st Century monasticism, how we engage in the public action, applying the Dharma and concluding ceremonies. Every effort will be made to document the retreat so the wisdom is shared and benefits in a long-lasting manner.

We believe this general plan will allow us to share the jewels of our practice traditions, as well as our community’s wisdom with each other. 

Ritual Dates:

July 2/3  Arrive in Shravasti

July 4  Opening Ceremonies and Set Boundaries

July 5 Opening Ritual/Full Moon Posadha

July 6 Enter Varsa

July 7 Precepts section begins

July 20 New Moon Posadha individual retreat day

Aug 3 Full Moon Posadha individual retreat day

Aug 7 Precepts section ends

Aug 8 Transition day

Aug 9 Samadhi section begins

Aug 19 New Moon Posadha individual retreat day

Sept 2 Full Moon Posadha individual retreat day

Sept 17 New Moon Posadha

Sept 21 Samadhi section ends

Sept 22 Transition Day

Sept 23 Wisdom section begins

Oct 1 Wisdom section ends

Oct 2 Full Moon Posadha and Pravarana ceremony

Oct 3 Conclusion

Optional Pilgrimage Invitation Oct 28 – Dec 14 light of the Buddha Foundation


Proposed Sample of Daily Schedule during Precepts Section

5:00 a.m.           Wake up

5:30 – 6:30        Chanting and Meditation practice

7:00                    Breakfast

7:30                    Light group cleaning of shared spaces

9:00 – 10:30     Teachings

11:00 – 11:50     Teachings or Group discussions

12:00 noon         Lunch

2:30 – 4:00        Teachings or Discussion

4:30                     Study time or personal interviews with teachers

6:00 p.m.           Medicine meal and clean up

7:00 – 8:15        Meditation practice

1. There will be Uposatha on the Full moon day and new moon days
2. There will be few special puja on some days


Proposed Sample of Daily Schedule during Samadhi Section

Conducted in Noble Silence

4:30 a.m.            Wake up

5:00 – 6:30        Meditation practice

7:00                     Breakfast

7:45                      Light group cleaning of shared spaces

8:00 –9:30         Meditation practice/Teaching

9:45-10:45          Walking Meditation

11:00 – 11:50     Meditation practice

12:00 noon         Lunch

12:30- 2:00        Study or rest

2:00 – 2:30       Walking Meditation

3:00- 4:30          Meditation /Teacher interviews

5:00 p.m.           Medicine meal

5:45-7:00           Study or rest

7:00 – 8:15        Meditation practice

1. There will be Uposatha on the Full moon day and new moon days
2. There will be few special puja on some days