The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi: British Feminist, Indian Nationalist, Buddhist Nun
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She was the first Western woman to become a Tibetan Buddhist nun—but that pioneering ordination was really just one in a life full of revolutionary acts. Freda Bedi (1911–1977) broke the rules of gender, race, and religion—in many cases before it was thought that the rules were ready to be challenged. She was at various times a force in the struggle for Indian independence, spiritual seeker, scholar, professor, journalist, author, social worker, wife, and mother of four children. She counted among her friends, colleagues, and teachers Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and many others. She was a woman of spiritual focus and compassion who was also not without contradictions. Vicki Mackenzie gives a nuanced view of Bedi and of the forces that shaped and motivated this complex and compelling figure.