For anyone who has enough luck and merits to meet her in person, Ani Choying Dolma may come across like an ordinary nun who is dedicated to nothing but the doctrine. However, it won’t take long before you can sense the extraordinary charm, humility, and compassion that shine through Ani Choying.
In addition to her exceptional qualities, Ani Choying Dolma is also an exceptional singer who is known worldwide. Those that listen and enjoy her songs will agree that her voice brings the purity and melody that touches the heart.
Unlike commercial singers, Ani Choying uses her voice for one purpose – to pass the Buddhist messages to the commoners through songs.
Born in exile in 1971 to Tibetan refugees, Ani Choying Dolma recounted the difficulties she has had endure in her early life during the second day of Mountain Echoes held at Taj Tashi in Thimphu yesterday. Speaking to the audience, Ani Choying said that the reason she became a Buddhist nun at a young age was because of difficulties she had had to endure at home where physical and mental torture was a frequent affair.
“When I saw my mom being beaten up, it was the most painful moment and the hardest thing to bear,” said Ani Choying. She added that she felt defenseless, and joining the nunnery was a way to escape her abusive father.
She said she had started to develop anger and resentment towards every man because of her father. “I started imaging that all men are bad men and they are the worst creature in the world,” she said. She said it made her unhappy and made her think married life was about being dominated, discriminated and emotionally and physically abused.
Ani Choying said she gained a new perspective after her spiritual education in Nagi Gompa, a Buddhist nunnery in Nepal at the age of 13. “The refuge I took in Ngai Gompa in Trulku Urgyen Rinpoche, started the whole refurbishing process in my life,” she said.
Now, how did she get to sing when a nunnery is all about reading and reciting religious scriptures and practicing? It was in 1994, when guitarist Steve Tibets visited the nunnery that Ani’s musical journey began. She began recording the melodious Chö songs in 1996, and the first album, Choying Dolma and Steve Tibbetts Chö, was released in 1997.
Ani Choying has produced and recorded numerous Buddhist hymns and chants and she is now known as the melodious singing nun internationally. Out of her numerous recordings, some of the prominent CD are Moment of Bliss and Selwa released in 2004, Inner Peace in 2006, Ama and Matakala in 2009, to name a few.
Ani Choying has extensively toured across the globe. She is also a philanthropist dedicated to the welfare of Buddhist nuns and is the founder of the Nuns Foundation in Nepal. She also founded Arya Tara school in Nepal with the help of the proceeds from her concerts tours, CD sales and donations.