Nun’s devotional songs take the Buddha’s message beyond Nepal

NEW DELHI — American guitarist Steve Tibbetts launched her career after the two recorded an album in 1997. This year … Continued

NEW DELHI — American guitarist Steve Tibbetts launched her career after the two recorded an album in 1997.

This year she was invited by Academy Award-winning Indian composer A.R. Rahman to sing “Zariya,” one of his compositions.

And at a recent San Francisco concert, American singer Bonnie Raitt told her she was one of her greatest fans.

For Ani Choying Drolma, nicknamed the “rock star nun,” singing and performing with top musicians is a way to take the essence of Buddha’s teachings to the world and help people in need.

“The Buddha said you have to be skillful according to the time, place and people,” said the practical 43-year-old nun.

In the past 16 years, Drolma has recorded 10 albums of sacred chants and devotional songs.

“Not only is she an amazing artist, but also an incredible human being,” said Farah Siraj, a Jordanian singer who collaborated with Drolma on “Zariya.”

Drolma sings and records from her base at the Nagi Gompa nunnery near Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu.

“Music has always been an integral part of Buddhist religious practice, especially as meditation,” she said. “My music is only different in style and framework.”

Drolma said she is not motivated by awards or concerts. She wants to “make everyone get the meaning of Buddha’s teachings and spread the word of wisdom.”

Through her Nun’s Welfare Foundation, she works to raise money for the education of child nuns. Two years ago, another initiative, the Arogya Foundation, set up Nepal’s first laboratory for renal diagnostic tests.

Drolma joined the nunnery at age 13 to escape the beatings of an alcoholic father. Under the tutelage of her teacher and meditation master, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, she was initiated into the spiritual world of Buddhism. Her singing talent was honed through learning and practice.

“I admire Ani Choying’s singing, and can feel her music in my heart,” said Lhamo Dukpa, one of Bhutan’s most popular singers, who is releasing her fifth album this year.

Drolma speaks fluent English, listens to Western music (she especially likes Norah Jones and the late Whitney Houston) and drives a car.

She shrugs off criticism that she is not conforming to tradition.

“Criticism is very natural,” she said. “The world always finds a way to praise you and a way to blame you. This is how it is, how it has been and how it always will be.”

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

More on:
Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.