Barkha Madan is an Indian actress and model, who left Bollywood to become a Buddhist monk in 2012. She is one of the non – Himalayan Indian Tibetan Buddhist nuns in FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition).
Barkha Madan was born on Monday, 17 August 1970 (age 52 years; as of 2022) in an army family from Punjab. She graduated with English Literature Honours and participated in theatre & drama. During her studies, she got interested in modelling and signed up for beauty pageants. In 2000, Barkha visited Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh) and met His Holiness The Dalai Lama. His public teachings hooked her in and 12 years later, she got ordained in Kathmandu, Nepal and changed her name to Ven. Gyalten Samten at the age of 38 years old.
Ven. Gyalten Samten (Barkha Madan) with Geshe Sherab after getting ordained at Sera Je Monastery in November 2012
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Weight (approx.): 65 kg
Hair Colour: Brown
Eye Colour: Brown
Figure Measurements (approx.): 34-32-34
Barkha Madan belongs to a Punjabi family.
Parents & Siblings
There is not much information about her parents and siblings.
Barkha Madan with her mother
Barkha Madan and her sister
Barkha is a devoted follower of the Dalai Lama.
Barkha Madan with His Holiness The Dalai Lama in 2019
Along with the winners Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai, she made it all the way to the finals of the Miss India competition in 1994. She also became the runner-up at Miss Tourism International (1994) in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.
She made her acting debut in the Bollywood film ‘Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi (1996),’ starring Akshay Kumar, Rekha, and Raveena Tandon.
Barkha Madan in a still from the film ‘Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi’ (1996)
She also acted in an Indo-Dutch film ‘Driving Miss Palmen’ (2000) starring actress Mandira Bedi and Tom Alter.
Barkha Madan as Tracy Emin with Tom Alter in film ‘Driving Miss Palmen’ (2000)
In 1999, she played the lead role in the movie ‘Tera Mera Pyar,’ starring Dara Singh.
Barkha Madan in film ‘Tera Mera Pyaar’ (1999)
In 2003, her most remarkable work was in Ram Gopal Varma’s horror film ‘Bhoot,’ as a ghost along with actor Ajay Devgn and Urmila Matondkar.
Barkha Madan in a still from the film ‘Bhoot’ (2003) in the role of a ghost
With Golden Gate Creations, her own production and distribution company, she produced films like ‘Soch Lo’ in 2010 and ‘Surkhaab’ in 2014, the last movie she did before getting ordained.
Barkha Madan in a still from the film ‘Soch Lo’ (2010)
Barkha Madan – ‘Surkhaab’ (2014)
Barkha has made appearances in the TV shows like ‘1857 Kranti’ as Lakshmibai and ‘Ghar Ek Sapnaa’ (2007) as Devika.
Barkha Madan as Devika in ‘Ghar Ek Sapnaa’ (2007)
She also played the role of a music director named Rewa Sehgal in ‘Saat Phere – Saloni Ka Safar’ (2005).
Barkha Madan as Rewa Sehgal in a still from the TV show ‘Saat Phere – Saloni Ka Safar’ (2005)
- Barkha Madan was crowned 3rd runner-up in Miss Tourism International Pageant (1994) in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.
- Barkha’s film ‘Surkhaab’ won 9 International awards such as the Platinum Remi Award at the 46th Annual Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival for the best feature film in 2013, Golden World Award in World Film Awards, Jakarta for best editor in 2016, and Festival Award at Madrid International Film Festival for best producer of a feature film in 2013.
- The first time Barkha asked Lama Zopa Rinpoche if she could become a nun too, Rinpoche laughed and said, “Why? You fought with your boyfriend? Joining the monastic order isn’t about escapism. You need to embrace Buddhist philosophy and reflect on why you want to walk the path of Divination.”
- Until the time Barkha Madan got ordained, she was the editor of ‘www.indianentertainment.info,’ an online entertainment magazine that she had started.
- In 2012, Barkha hesitantly asked her mother if she should get ordained. Surprisingly, her mother replied, “What are you waiting for? go for it!!”
- During an interview, while talking about the film ‘Surkhaab’ (2014), she said,
It was shot in Toronto and Punjab in just 25 days with a skeletal 10-member unit on a shoe string budget. I was the co-producer, the lead actress, and the chaiwallah.”
- Barkha owns only two sets of robes, a few woollens, a cell phone, and a laptop.
A picture of Barkha Madan in Chennai from 30 January 2020
- Barkha likes to spend time with underprivileged kids and doing social work.
Barkha Madan providing warm blankets to the poor at Safdarjung Hospital in 2019
- While dancing in Mumbai once, Barkha’s leg twisted. Her instructor, who was a Reiki practitioner offered to help her and she was back on her feet within 15-20 mins. Since then, she started practising it too.
- She enjoys painting and doing yoga.
Barkha Madan’s painting of meditating refugees
- In an interview, when asked if becoming a monk was difficult or easy, Barkha joked and said,
you know how precious these monastic robes are, I had to give up all the material possessions, my couture, jewellery, car and house to earn it.”
- She has attended several award shows and led a glamorous life. During an interview, while talking about Barkha’s desire to convert into a Buddhist nun before getting ordained, she said,
Everything was going well but I felt something was missing.”
Barkha Madan before becoming a Buddhist nun
- Barkha Madan wants to start a nunnery in India for aspiring nuns-to-be.