US Congress Recognizes the Gyalwang Drukpa for Social and Environmental Activism

By BD Dipananda
Buddhistdoor Global | 2017-03-10 |
The Gyalwang Drukpa holding the Congressional resolution with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. From Gyalwang Drukpa FacebookThe Gyalwang Drukpa holding the Congressional resolution with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. From Gyalwang Drukpa Facebook

On 5 March, Jigme Pema Wangchen, the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa of the Drukpa Order, was recognized in a US Congressional Record for empowering women in the Himalayas and supporting green initiatives.

The resolution was presented by Carolyn Maloney, the Democratic congresswoman for New York’s 12th Congressional district. “I have no words to say except ‘Thank You’ for the honour from US Congress, esp. Rep. @CarolynBMaloney for the unexpected felicitation,” the Gyalwang Drukpa posted on his Twitter account.

The record recognizes the Gyalwang Drukpa (among others) as a world-renowned humanitarian, environmentalist, and champion of gender equality. It notes his efforts to provide relief services to thousands of people in the Himalaya region following the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

The recognition ceremony was held 
in Kathmandu and attended by over 500 guests from India, Nepal, and the US. This included American officials, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, Dr. Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, the chief imam of the All India Organization of Imams of Mosques, prominent Jain spiritual leader Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni, and Bhikkhu Sanghasena, founder and president of the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre.

Close-up of the Congressional resolution. From Gyalwang Drukpa TwitterClose-up of the Congressional resolution. From Gyalwang Drukpa Twitter

The Gyalwang Drukpa is the leader of the Drukpa Order, which was founded in west Tibet by Tsangpa Gyare (1161–1211). Born in 1963, the current Gyalwang Drukpa is a prominent environmentalist, educator, and spiritual teacher who is engaged with issues of environmental preservation and women’s empowerment. He has initiated a number of programs, such as the international humanitarian organization Live to Love. Launched in 2007, Live to Love is a secular non-profit focused on five aims: education, environmental protection, medical services, relief aid, and heritage preservation. Every year, Live to Love also hosts the “Eco Pad Yatra,” a journey during which hundreds of volunteers walk hundreds of kilometers collecting plastic waste.

Two months after flash floods devastated Ladakh in 2010, the Gyalwang Drukpa initiated a program to plant 1 million trees as part of the One Million Trees campaign initiated by Wangari Maathai, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. In September 2013, during UN Week, the Gyalwang Drukpa was named “The Guardian of the Himalayas” by Waterkeeper Alliance, which was founded in 1999 by senior attorney, president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, and chief prosecuting attorney for Hudson Riverkeeper, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Druk Amitabha Mountain Nunnery's Kung Fu nuns on their way from Agra to Delhi. From lovemint.comDruk Amitabha Mountain Nunnery's Kung Fu nuns on their way from Agra to Delhi. From

The Gyalwang Drukpa also founded the Druk Amitabha Mountain Nunnery in Kathmandu, where over 300 nuns receive modern education and training in Chinese martial arts. These nuns also engage in pilgrimage by bicycling from Kathmandu to different Buddhist sites, with the aim of raising awareness about enfranchising women and saving local environments.

See more

Buddhist leader Gyalwang Drukpa recognized by US congress for empowering women (Lion’s Roar)
US congress recognises Buddhist leader for empowering women (Yahoo News)
US Congress lauds Buddhist leader for empowering women (Eastern Mirror)
Religious leaders from India, Nepal and US come together to celebrate (DNA)

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