The Geshema is Born (Malati Rao) India

The Geshema is Born
Malati Rao
India.  2019.  70 min

Tibetan Buddhist nuns have for centuries sought the audacious idea of equality within their ancient faith. Empowered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, they now receive the highest monastic degree – the Geshe Ma or Phd degree. The film explores their journey. For the Buddha, establishing a community of nuns was a radical experiment for its time.

Over the centuries, Buddhist religious life was available to women and many historical events mention highly accomplished nuns, but the highest monastic qualifications were denied to them. His Holiness the Dalai Lama worked for decades on behalf of women in Tibetan Buddhism, to empower and enable them to finally receive the same education and the same degree as the monks. In achieving this, he impacted the potential of women across all faiths to participate fully in their faiths, drawing upon the value and usefulness of the wisdom that results from women’s unique experiences. The Film traces the journey of Namdol Phuntsok, the first woman ever to be awarded the highest degree in Tibetan philosophy – the Geshe degree, the ‘knower of virtue’.


Malati Rao has been making documentaries for the last decade, several of which have been broadcast on public television. Handmade in India, on India’s craft traditions, and Born Behind Bars, about children growing up in prison, have been applauded and screened at several film festivals. Malati holds an MFA degree in Film and Media Arts from Temple University, USA, and an MA in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi.