The Tibetan Nun Mingyur Peldrön
A Woman of Power and Privilege
- PUBLISHED: September 2022
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / China, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir, History
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 242 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 1 table
- ISBN: 9780295750361
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Born to a powerful family and educated at the prominent Mindröling Monastery, the Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher Mingyur Peldrön (1699–1769) leveraged her privileged status and overcame significant adversity, including exile during a civil war, to play a central role in the reconstruction of her religious community. Alison Melnick Dyer employs literary and historical analysis, centered on a biography written by the nun's disciple Gyurmé Ösel, to consider how privilege influences individual authority, how authoritative Buddhist women have negotiated their position in gendered contexts, and how the lives of historical Buddhist women are (and are not) memorialized by their communities. Mingyur Peldrön's story challenges the dominant paradigms of women in religious life and adds nuance to our ideas about the history of gendered engagement in religious institutions. Her example serves as a means for better understanding of how gender can be both masked and asserted in the search for authority—operations that have wider implications for religious and political developments in eighteenth-century Tibet. In its engagement with Tibetan history, this study also illuminates the relationships between the Geluk and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism from the eighteenth century, to the nonsectarian developments of the nineteenth century. The open access publication of this book was made possible by a grant from the James P. Geiss and Margaret Y. Hsu Foundation.
Authors & Contributors
Alison Melnick Dyer is assistant professor of religious studies at Bates College.
"Melnick Dyer examines [an] unusual example of female leadership in the traditionally male-dominated world of Buddhist monasticism through an in-depth engagement with Mingyur Peldrön’s life, a story that is characterized by a tension between her female gender and her family privilege."-
"Dyer’s book is a meticulous analysis of the namthar of an important woman and female saint of the eighteenth century... [A] must-read for Tibetologists and historians of religion with an interest in gender. Scholars of Tibetan studies having other areas of specialization should read it as well, for it balances out the image of Tibetan Buddhism as a predominantly male-dominated and male-centered religion. The book is also written in a way that is comprehensible to students and scholars from other fields"-
"The issue of women's ordination status continues to be central in discussions of gender equity in Buddhism around the world today, and this book provides essential clues that will be of keen interest to scholars and practitioners alike."- Karma Lekshe Tsomo, author of Women in Buddhist Traditions
"Melnick Dyer's study of the life of Mingyur Peldrön, a nun from an important Tibetan religious family, enhances our understanding of the lives of Tibetan women saints. Exceptionally well researched and lucidly written, the author's command of the relevant Tibetan literary sources is superb. More than a simple retelling of Mingyur Peldrön's life, the book is a sophisticated analysis of the role of gender, authority, and privilege in the life of Tibetan religious adepts. A real contribution to Tibetan and Buddhist Studies."- José Ignacio Cabezón, coauthor of Sera Monastery