Ani Choying Drolma also known as Choying Drolma and Ani Choying is a Buddhist nun and musician from the Nagi Gompa nunnery in Nepal. She was born on June 4, 1971, in Kathmandu, Nepal.
She is known in Nepal and throughout the world for bringing many Tibetan Buddhist chants and feast songs to mainstream audiences. Ani Choying Dolma is an exceptional singer, admired by fans in Nepal and throughout the world. People are moved to tears by the plaintive purity of her voice, and the haunting melodies of her ancient songs and hymes, passed from master to pupil for many centuries.
She was trained formally in the sacred chants by her Lama, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Her motivation in singing these great powerful mantras to the wider public is to bring benefit to all who hear them. Ani-la tours Europe, North America and many counties of Asia, has released numerous CDs. The funds she raises from her singing are supporting an increasing number of charity projects through her Nuns Welfare Foundation.
Ani Choying has always believed that nuns have a great desire and potential to make the world a better place, if only given equal opportunities. Arya Tara School, opened in 2000, aims to equip nuns to help and to serve their communities in a professional and humanitarian capacity. With a fully developed and realized potential, she believes that her nuns will be able to not only help themselves, but also to help others.
In brief, aims to help young nuns bring their compassion into fruition, actively, effectively, skillfully and meaningfully. Traditionally, says Ani Choying, women’s education is neglected in Asia. “most of the girls at my nunnery are from rural areas either in Tibet, India or Nepal, patriarchal cultures where women are expected just to cook, clean and bear children. Even in the nunnery, they are taught to read classical Tibetan in order to do the religious practice, but many cannot write their own names.” Her school would educate them in Literacy, Maths, Science, Medical and Nursing skills, and Buddhist philosophy.
To finance her school, Anila generates income through musical endeavors. In 1997, Ani-la began performing and recording Cho for audiences around the world, connecting Westerners to Tibetan culture and music. Ani Choying has gained wide popularity in Nepal as well, after she released her first Nepali CD “Moments of Bliss” in 2004 for which she was bestowed with laurels for her fantastic soothing voice.
A supporter of the school once wrote: “We were invited to see a concert by a Buddhist nun at a 500 year-old monastery in Patan. Thinking this would be a unique experience, we jumped at the opportunity. To our delight we were entertained by a talented, witty and charming woman performing traditional Tibetan songs and chants. At the end of the concert we learned that this humble Buddhist nun was performing to raise money to build a monastery and school for less fortunate woman and children in Nepal, India and Tibet. Her selflessness and commitment was so great that we felt we must help support her cause.”
She is currently here in Australia touring the country. Here is the extract of interview from Sydney morning herald by Jack Marx.
In person, the 41-year-old has a mesmerising presence, most of which is transmitted by her eyes – big, brown, expressive. To sit just inches from them, immersed in their sincerity, gives a journalist one of those rare moments when he knows he will fail his readers by not having them all there to experience it for themselves.
Drolma is also a trifle disarming for those with stereotypical expectations of a Buddhist nun. She has a fondness for Cadillacs (she was the first nun to drive a car in Nepal) and Whitney Houston, and when asked last year by the Himalayan Times why she had published her autobiography in the first place, she replied: “Honestly, it was money.”
She also betrays a peculiar fascination with Australian immigration officers.
“I do get distracted, like everyone else,” she says, when I ask her how a celibate Buddhist nun combats lustful thoughts. “But there’s a difference between getting distracted for a moment and getting distracted for a lifetime. I mean, if there’s a nice-looking guy then, okay, I will look.
I rejoice that this guy is looking really nice. For instance, when I first came to Australia, I faced the immigration officers, and I really liked them. They looked so … cool.”
Immigration officers? Cool?
“They were! They were happy and whistling while they were checking the passports and stamping them … and the guy I was dealing with had this tattoo and he was a cool dude. And I thought: ‘Wow!’ But that was it.
“You know, romantic love is a very popular habit, but it’s not something I like to practise. When you think carefully about it, it’s really just another addiction – an addiction to a certain person. ‘I love this person so much I can’t let him go!’ It’s not correct.
“If you really, truly love someone, you simply wish the best for them, not yourself. If you’re wishing the best for them on the condition that they’re making you happy, it’s more like a business. That’s not the kind of love we should develop for each other. It will hurt someone in the end, always.”
Drolma claims that the Buddhist faith cannot “do magic” (like, say, cure someone of addiction to the demon drink), but her performances suggest the contrary. Her voice is sweeping, dynamic and entirely in the control of its mistress – like a Himalayan Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil), Choying Drolma’s voice is an intoxicating experience.
“You should come to Nepal,” she urges me. “You really should! You would love it there, and I think it would be very enlightening for you. And, if not, we have many great bars you might enjoy.”
She was featured in channel 7 morning show recently and click here for the video.
Here is some of her music. Even you don’t understand the wording, I am sure you will fall in love with the melody.
This is my favourite song from her albums.
Her songs and original music has also appeared on various albums, including “Head Massage” by Soul Flip, BMG company and the “Buddha Bar” compilation by George V Company in France.
Ani Choying began recording the melodious Chö songs in 1996, and the first album, Choying Drolma and Steve Tibbetts Chö, was released in 1997. In the spring of 2000 Ani Choying’s second CD was released, Sina Vodjani & Choying Drolma Dancing Dakini. Immediately after this release, Ani Choying began to record her third CD, Choying, in a local Kathmandu studio. Although one hundred copied of this CD were sold in April, Choying’s official release is still in the works. Ani Choying has performed Chö in concert in both the United States, in 1998 and 1999, and in Europe, in 1999. In 2000 she has performed at festivals in both the United States and Europe. Ani Choying recorded her first Nepali CD Moments Of Bliss with local musicians in Kathmandu itself and released her album in 2004. Again in 2004, Ani Choying Drolma released another album with Steve Tibbets- Selwa (meaning “clear” or “awake”) for Six Degrees Records.
In June 2005, she released her second Nepali album titled “Smile” and “Inner Peace” is Ani Choying’s sixth CD and it consists of 4 mantras sung in melody. All of the money raised through Ani Choying’s performances and record sales go directly to the Nuns Welfare Foundation.
At the age of 13, she joined Nagi Gompa, a Buddhist nunnery on Shivapuri Mountain on the northern slope of the Kathmandu valley. Her education and spiritual training was supervised by the renowned meditation master, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. She was educated in Buddhist meditation, chants, rituals and ceremonies and quickly advanced to the position of the chanting master in the nunnery.
Later, she resigned from this position to become Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s personal health attendant and served him until his parinirvana (passing away) in February 1996. From seeing Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s altruistic life-style, always giving to others, without considering his own welfare, she developed a sincere desire to use whatever capacities she has to benefit beings as much as possible. Because Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche himself held nuns in the same regard as monks, Ani Choying Drolma believes that creating more opportunities for nuns to study and to develop their own capacities for skillful and compassionate action is the best way she can dedicate herself to her teacher’s vision throughout her life. She is committed to do whatever she can to promote the advancement of nuns, not only for their own benefit but because they will then be better prepared to serve and benefit others.