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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bahujan Hitay Amaravati celebrates with annual festival

Amitayus, an Indian Order Member from TBMSG’s vibrant Amaravati centre in central Maharastra, writes with news of their recent annual festival, organised to celebrate a very successful 2009. He says -

“Jaibhim and many good wishes from Bahujan Hitay project Amravati.

“It is our pleasure to let you know that Bahujan Hitay project Amravati has organized the Bahujan Hitay annual festival. Participants included beneficiaries, indirect beneficiaries, stakeholder’s staff, donors, well-wishers and management. It is a reflection of our year long success, and for the first time we made it for four days in length, from 9-12 February.

Events included sports events for the Staff and the cultural activities for our direct and indirect beneficiaries and stake holders. The concluding ceremony on 12 February was presided over by Dhammachari Nagabhadra, Chairman of our Bahujan Hitay project management committee.

Some sense of the breadth of Amaravati’s activities can be found from their annual report - available on the Resources page of FWBO News at

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Children’s activities in Amaravati and Nagpur; India

FWBO News brings you two stories today from India, both about children.

Prompted by our September story of the London Buddhist Centre’s ‘
Buddhist Sunday School’, Amitayus writes from Amaravati telling of their long-standing children's activities there ; and in the larger central India city of Nagpur Tejadhamma has been bringing together children and animated Dharma: surely a winning combination!

He says - “I recently showed the animated movie on Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha’s life to 50-60 children at Nagpur. Many children and parents appreciated the movie and some of the children expressed that they have watched the animated movie of Krishna, Hanuman, Ganesh and other Hindu god/goddesses on TV or cable channels but this was their first opportunity to see a Buddhist animated movie which was so inspiring and they liked it to watch and practice like the Buddhist great people.

“I have seen in many cities in India that the children are spending lots of time watching TV channels but they are not getting any Buddhist culture through the animated movies shown on TV. I realised they need to be shown attractive ways to learn some Buddhist teaching, which is very valuable for human life. I have found that if we talk about what Buddha said, children neglect to listen, so when I was discussing with my colleague  about children’s activities and the Buddhist culture for the next generation; we found that animated movies on Buddhism would be an easy way to communicate the teachings and this was our first attempt to show the movie on big screen by projector which was so appreciated and helpful .’

‘We would like this to show in every Buddha Vihar in Nagpur and the Buddhist centres in India. But this animated movie is in Chinese language; when we showed it, it was translated in Hindi by myself on microphone.

“Now we need to translate in Hindi and make more copies of it. To make this a success I am trying to get an expert translator and raising some funds for screen and projector, making/copying more DVDs with Hindi translation, voice experts to add the Hindi language, animation worker’s expenses, studio charges etc.’ I would be so delighted to see some interested people in this project who can help financially and through their personal contribution. They can contact me on my email

Over in Amaravati, Amitayus writes with news of their Buddhist children’s activities. He says -

“To the editor FWBO-TBMSG news, Jaibhim!

“We are happy to know that the London Buddhist Centre has started a Buddhist Sunday school focusing on children and their development. I heartily appreciate the activities the LBC team are arranging especially the stories and crafts which are the very effective way of nurturing the child’s mind. Also it is great to have the Little Buddha Children’s Club at Nagpur.

“We want to let you know that we at TBMSG Amravati in central India have a history of running successful children’s classes since 1994. The outcome of these are that we had many young men and women from that becoming Dhammamitras and many are now working for TBMSG in various places. They strongly appreciate how these children’s activities have helped them to understand Buddhism and meditation, and how the ethical practices of Buddhism have helped them to develop their personality.

"It is also prideful for us that we have regular Children’s classes in many slums around Amaravati, places like Mahadeo Khori, Panchashil Nagar, and the village Anjangao Bari.

"This class especially has become known to many people in India because the villagers boycotted the local school when it admitted 22 HIV positive children. At that time our Sukhavati women’s and children empowerment project (funded by Karuna Trust UK) successfully intervened in the issue and initiated a children’s class in this village too.

"Altogether it is clear to us that in all the FWBO –TBMSG there are INCREASING children’s projects which are not known to all Sangha members. We are happy to inform you of our activities in Amaravati. I hope you will publish the same through FWBO –TBMSG NEWS , all the news on FWBO-TBMSG is inspiring and experience the sangha success.

"Many thanks, Amitayus"

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Jai Bhim! - links develop between 'Dalit' Buddhists in India and Hungary

Amitayus, an Indian member of the Western Buddhist Order, and Chair of the FWBO/TBMSG centre in Amaravati, central India, writes to say -

“Congratulations and Bon Voyage to Dharma Mitra Bharat Wankhade who leaves Amravati, Maharashtra, India this week for a 10 week visit to Sajokaza, Hungary, where he will meet with Roma tribal Gypsy communities.

“The visit, which has been organised by the Jai Bhim Network, an organisation dedicated to integrating marginalised Roma tribal communities into society, has invited Bharat who will represent Bahujan Hitay Amravati Boys’ Hostel.

“Inspired by the message of Dr. Ambedkar for parents of marginalised communities to educate their children, in order to escape oppression and poverty, Bharat’s mother and father entered him into the Bahujan Hitay Amravati Boys’ Hostel at the age of ten. For the next eight years, Bharat boarded at the hostel whilst completing his education. Bharat is now studying in his 2nd year of Chartered Accountancy at The Institute of Chartered Accountants, Pune, Maharashtra.

“Commenting before his departure Bharat said “My parents are marginal farmers which is the only profession in the small village where I am from. My mother read an article about the hostel in a newspaper and once she had enrolled me into the hostel my life started to change. I feel indebted to Dh. Tejdhamma, Dh. Nagabhadra and Dh. Amitayus who guided and cherished me both through my education and more importantly my spiritual development. I met with Tibor Janos, of Jai Bhim Network in 2004 when he visited the Bahujan Hitay Amravati night study class which I was leading at the time. We have kept in touch since then and each time we’ve met he has invited me to Hungary. Eventually I said yes. In Hungary I hope to share my life experience with the beneficiaries of his project. I will meet students and perhaps share my knowledge of accountancy too.”

“Wishing him farewell Dh. Amitayus, project leader, BH Amravati commented, “Bharat is a young man with a very compassionate heart; he is kind and generous and being with him gives people a sense of security. I wish him good health on his journey; otherwise, I am confident he will help meet the needs of many people.”

“BH Amravati Boys Hostel is one of 24 hostels run by Bahujan Hitay and TBMSG and supported by Karuna Trust, the FWBO’s main fundraising charity which raises and sends over £1m/year annually to many social and Dhamma projects in India. To contact the Hostel direct please email Amitayus.

If you would like more information about Karuna and the work they support in Asia please visit the Karuna website - or to find out how to donate to Karuna please go to

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Monday, September 07, 2009

first report from the Jnanasiddhi Center for Youth Development, Amravati

This year has seen the founding of the Jnanasiddhi Center for Youth Development in the Indian city of Amravati, central India, where there has been for many years a flourishing TBMSG centre. They’ve recently sent us this report of their first few months operation. Jnanaratna, its founder, says -

“Jnanasiddhi Center for Youth Development, Amravati started on the 7th Jan 2009. It is the initiative of Jnanaratna, a young Dhammachari from Amravati, who, with the help of Amoghasiddhi , Kumarjeev and Ratnasiddhi, has been working for the youth since his ordination four years ago.

Vision of the project
The vision of the project bring is to bring together and & help to grow all Buddhist and non-Buddhist youths age between 18 to 40, of all the different castes and social backgrounds, both employed & unemployed, and to help them all to become the true individuals.

Our mission is to reach out to thousand of youngsters with different activities and try to bring them together in our events so that they explore their talents, share their views and learn from each other.

Our Activities
We took the NVC (Non-Violent Communication) training for youth at Jnanasiddhi on the 15th- 16th Feb 2009. Kumarjeev conducted the training, there were 25 participants present, and it was very inspiring moment for the youth.

A workshop on NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) was held on the 6th & 7th of April. Aruna Korana led the training, and 20 youth participated in the event. NLP is concerned with the transformation of the thought process: if the thought changes, the personality of the human also changes . Success, relationships, can all transform through the practice of NLP. Aruna also demonstrated the use of our senses to the fullest capacity .

Dhamma talk series
We have celebrated the Jayanti (birth) of Dr. Ambedkar by two series of talks, one on the personality of Dr. Ambedkar and his education, and one on the social conditions of today’s Ambedkarite youth. The first talks were given by Dhammachari Amoghasiddhi and Mahendra Mundre.

In his talks, Amoghasiddhi explored the life of Babasaheb in different ways , putting the personality of Dr. Babasaheb as the true practitioner of the Buddhism . He said , if we put the same effort as Babasaheb in the five Viniyat Chetsik Dhammas, it will help to us to became true Buddhists and individuals. He quoted many example from his life which highlights the morality.

Other events
On the occasion of URGYEN SANGHARAKSHITA’S birthday, August 26th, we asked all people to join with the Jnanasiddhi Youth Development Center, Amaravati, India, to go green and spread metta to whole world.

We celebrated Bhante’s birthday with planting trees in the near town . We were remembering his qualities:

1) Bhante gives the shelter of the fwbo/tbmsg
2) deep understanding of the dhamma
3) his own interpretation of the dhamma
4) experience of the higher stages of the meditation .

and many more. We planted 83 trees in the near the Jnanasiddhi center on the early morning of 26th Aug 2009 at 7am to 9am, and followed this with meditation and puja practise from 10am to 12pm. Through the whole month from 26th August to 26th Sept 09 , we will plant trees for the long life and gratitude to Bhante’s contribution to the new world.

For further details and to donate us for this cause, please contact me at

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jumbo Retreat in India - report, photos, and upcoming...

Ashvajit was in India from late September to early November this year. The visit began to take shape when Amitayus asked him, at the Indian Order Convention early this year, if he would lead a ‘Jumbo’ retreat in Amaravati, a town in the Vidarbha area of central India.

Knowing that there were a considerable number of Order members in the area who would be keen to help, and following the age-old Buddhist tradition of accepting all invitations to teach the Dharma, Ashvajit said yes, he would. Thus began eight months of preparation involving more or less continuous communication with Amitayus and quite a few other Order members both Eastern and Western.

One of the first tasks was to raise funds, and so, with a few hints from Lokabandhu, a JustGiving Appeal was set up on the Web under the auspices of FWBO Dhammaloka, and an email sent to all non-Indian Order Members inviting them to take a look at it. Within a few days, funds started pouring in. It was a very heartening experience to witness such generosity, but there was a long way to go.

And then one day a donation came in for £3,000 from a donor who wished to remain anonymous! Ashvajit wondered for a moment if he was dreaming, but no, it was real. Such generosity was deeply affirming, and from that point on, all involved in the preparation for the Jumbo Retreat shared an even greater sense of enthusiasm and possibilities than that with which they’d begun.

Once in India, in early September, Ashvajit began a whistle-stop tour around Vidarbha. Each day for about 14 days leading up to the Jumbo retreat he and his team travelled to one or another outlying place, giving about 20 public talks, including one to a crowd of 100,000 people in Chandrapur, and many much smaller ones – which, he says, he preferred.

some people from the 2008 Amaravati Jumbo Retreat, with the large shrine in the backgroundThen came the Jumbo Retreat itself, which 1,200 people attended. It was held under canvas in pleasant countryside outside Amaravati and very well-organised by the team of local Order members. Mornings saw double meditations, which, Ashvajit said, went deep considering the number of people present, followed by a Dhamma talk, translated of course. This was followed by study groups which were very much appreciated, and question-and-answer sessions in the afternoon. These proved especially popular, the answers often attracting applause.

The pre-retreat tour had managed to attract hundreds of people who were experiencing the Dharma for the first time, and at the end of the retreat some of them were weeping, they had enjoyed themselves so much.

Ashvajit commented afterwards he felt that he’d gained quite as much from the tour and retreat as he had given, and expressed his deep gratitude to the Amaravati Order members and to all those in the West who had contributed so generously and made the whole thing possible.

Photos of the event and some of the tours are available on Flickr and Picasa.

A series of other major retreats are coming up fast in India – next being the International Full Moon Sponsored Meditation night on Saturday December 13th. This is open to all, wherever in the world you live, and is a fund-raiser for India’s National Network of Buddhist Youth. Click the link to take part or to donate…

In early March there’s the 7th International Dhammakranti retreat; this will be held at Buddhagaya from 1st March evening to 6th March evening 2009, straight after the International Order Convention. They too are seeking sponsors – please see their website for more details.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Month-long Dhamma programme underway in Amaravati, India

In Amaravati, a city in the very centre of India some 100 miles from Nagpur, a month-long programme is underway of Dhamma talks in a wide range of villages and towns in the surrounding area. The organisers estimate that the public talks, in towns large and small in the Amaravati region, will reach an estimated 15,000 people directly and many thousands more indirectly.
Ashvajit, a UK Order Member, is taking part, and has sent FWBO News links to his Picasa photos:

Click here for a slideshow of one of the talks in Badnera and here for photos of their celebration of Ambedkar Dhammachakra Pravartan – Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism on October 14th. . There’s some of Ashvajit himself going a talk in Amaravati.

The programme culminates with a week-long retreat starting on October 24th, which will be led by a team of 25 Order Members from the Amaravati area including Amaravati’s Chairwoman Dhammacharini Jayamani.

Organisers of the programme have been vigorously fundraising for some months now and are still appealing for funds. They have done really well, raising almost £5,000 online and a lot more from local door-to-door collections in India. However they are looking for a final £2,000 to fully balance their books - you can contribute on-line using their Justgiving page

TBMSG Amaravati do many things besides big Dhamma programmes - the TBMSG Amaravati annual report for the 2007-8 year is available on-line. It gives a fascinating glimpse into some of the challenges faced by India's Dalits - and the vigour and creativirty with which they are facing them. 

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Monday, September 08, 2008

An invitation from Amaravati in India...

FWBO News has received this invitation, which it is happy to pass on to any readers who may be in India during October.

Amaravati is a town in the very centre of India, near Nagpur, and has for some years had a very active sangha, involved in a great range of social and Dhamma projects. Now the Amaravati Sangha, led by Amitayus, are gearing up for their largest-ever programme, a month long intensive programme of talks and retreats all over their region – which is largely rural and dominated by drought, high bank loans, and low commodity prices... these factors have combined to produce a massive and ongoing tragedy of farmers’ suicides - one estimate putting them at 1,500 in the past six months alone...

We hope to bring you more news of their program as it unfolds – in the meantime please also visit their fundraising page on JustGiving: where they have raised a remarkable UK 4,800 pounds!

Order Member Amitayus from Amaravati writes -

“Jaibhim Namo Bouddhaya.

TBMSG AMARAVATI sangha has organized a LECTURE SERIES from 12 October to 22 October and a JUMBO DHAMMA MEDITATION RETREAT from 24 October to 31 October 2008. These are part of our ongoing Dhamma and social awareness campaign and the Dhamma Revolution. Chief speaker will be DHAMMACHARI ASHVAJIT, a senior order member from the UK having long experience of practicing and teaching dhamma and meditation.

“Inspired and motivated by the work of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar we will deliver talks at 15 different towns and places around Amaravati, followed by the Jumbo Retreat itself.

We are looking you to participate and share your life with the other fellow participants. They will be coming from variety of backgrounds especially from the farming region which is full of suffering and dominated by the farmer suicide – for the last four years it has been declared as a drought affected district just 150 km from Nagpur and 600 km from Mumbai. You can read about the suicides in Indian media here and here as well as many other places.

“The participants which will nearly be thousands in numbers including Buddhist, non-Buddhist, youths, farmers, women, and the socially and economically backward and from various geographical backgrounds.

“Your participation in both the rally and retreat will give you the opportunity -

* To visit and see the countryside of India
* To see the social change cause by Dr Ambedkar’s Conversion.
* To listen, share, and interact with the local people.
* To respond their needs by sharing your experience of dhamma life.

“This can be a life enriching experience for you and would definitely be inspiring to go
forth. It will be my pleasure to send you the detail schedule programme, transportation assistance, your stay and the financial contribution you will have to bear, please contact me if you are interested.

Do come
Yours with metta
Also please visit and respond at

office:+91 (0)721 266 66 67 cell: +91 (0)9960935276

Sadhu Amaravati!

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