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Friday, November 13, 2009

Report from International Dhammakranti Retreat at Buddhagaya

Rohan from India’s ‘Dhammakranti’ project sends us this report of their recent retreat at Bodh Gaya, place of the Buddha’s Enlightenment and pivot of the Buddhist world.

‘Dhammakranti’ means ‘Dhamma Revolution’; their vision is a revival of the Buddha’s teaching across the length and breadth of India, and thus, the establishment of a truly caste-free society in India and an end to the appalling suffering this system still causes. He says-

“We have been organizing the Dhammakranti retreat for last seven years; this is the eight one in a series. Over last seven retreats nearly 8,500 people from 15 different states and from 20 different caste backgrounds have participated, we have tried to give to each an experience of a casteless society based on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. This is one of our main aims.

"This was the fourth Dhammakranti retreat we have organized at the most holy and auspicious place Buddhagaya in Bihar, India.  It took place 18 Oct to 23 Oct 2009.

Our aim

A. We wanted to set up a model for a casteless society. This would work as an inspiration for people in India who are working to annihilate the caste system as per the vision of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

B. We wanted to give an experience of a compassionate community of a wide variety of people coming from all many different parts of India and around the world.

C. We wanted to create an opportunity for people to interact with each other from different caste backgrounds and meet one another deeply enough to experience the unity and harmony between each other so that the habit of seeing people as higher or lower vanishes.

D. We decided to use Buddhist teachings as the major components of the retreat.

E. We wanted to revive a Buddhist culture in India

We brought together people from 7 different states in India - Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, and 4 Countries in the world - India, Britain, Thailand, New Zealand. This allowed us to have a real international flavor on the retreat.

We allowed 75 people to come free on the retreat, they were from various poor backgrounds specially from Bihar and Orissa. This helped them to build their confident and have the chance to interact with other Buddhists.

"All together 200 people participated in this retreat.  Dhammachari Subhuti was the leader of the retreat.

Talks and events

"We had an inauguration program on 18th evening where people from different countries and states introduced themselves in a group with their cultural background and won the hearts of many people.

"The main theme on the retreat was The Buddha Mind and the Five-Buddha mandala. Subhuti gave talks every morning. We explored the Buddhas by visiting the Maha Bodhi Temple everyday and reflecting on the five Buddhas, meditation, group discussion and communication exercises. Walking meditations also helped us to go deeper in to the theme.

"At the end of the retreat we had a mitra diksha (mitra ceremony) under the Bodhi tree. In this, seven brothers and sisters from four different states and two different nations expressed their strong commitment to the three jewels. As part of this, Dhammapali is the first Thai mitra we have in our movement.

Coming up - and our request to you
"Our next retreat we are going to have is in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, in December. We would like to get your generous help for this great cause.

"Please visit or; your support will help us to do the Buddhist uplift in India.

"Namo Buddhay and  Jai Bhim to all!"

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Youth Retreat in Bodh Gaya, part II

Here's a follow-up to yesterday's brief report on the recent NNBY Youth retreat at Bodh Gaya.

Aruna Kornana from NNBY reports -

The National Network of Buddhist Youth (NNBY) organized their first regional gathering at Bodhgaya, in Bihar.

It was a great challenge - the first time for this event with an entirely new group of people, working in a new place - but so successful.

Before the retreat the team went from one village to another, house to house, with the aim of educating the local people in the benefits of attending. Some places they could only reach on foot (almost 8-10 KM) and some on tractor.

The greatest challenge we expected was to get the Bihari girls out to come on this retreat as many had never before been away from their family. The local people proved our misconceptions wrong by sending their daughters to the retreat. In fact our efforts resulted in 35 enrollments, which is a big achievement as the tradition doesn’t allow girls to come out and participate in any such activities. This clearly shows how enthusiastic the people of Bihar are.

Dhammachari Subhuti led the retreat educating all present in the importance of Babasaheb Ambedkar ’s great Mantra “EDUCATE, AGITATE AND ORGANIZE”, dealing each of them separately. He mainly focused on how great a difference it makes when we form a proper Sangha: how much more we can contribute to each others’ growth, leading to development of ourselves and the society.

Dhammachari Maitriveer Nagarjuna from U.P. (Uttar Pradesh) led the team with morning Meditation and a talk followed by Group Discussion. We had Personality Development sessions in the afternoon - NVC (Non Violence Communication), English, information about RTI (Right to Information), Career Counseling, Play for Peace, and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), all led by different organizers. At night before we dispersed to bed we had daily Vandana (Puja). We also had a temple visit where we were guided around the sites where the Buddha spent 7 weeks after attaining enlightenment.

One could clearly see what difference the retreat had made on the young citizens. We encouraged them to put forward their concerns which brought into focus the lack of proper resources in the villages and the many obstacles they face in their way to growth.

Greatest of all was the need for girl’s education. The girls present were so happy that they could make it to the retreat. Most of them went back with a positive energy to do something for the other village girls, to motivate them, educate them and take this further. By the end of the retreat we had NNBY task groups (Sangha) one each for different regions. Dhammachari Subhuti in the concluding session said “Before I came to India I told my people in England that there wouldn’t be any girls on the retreat. But I can see that you had made a big difference, a great contribution.”

So a big applause to the whole team of organizers: Sailesh, Sachin, Sujivak (Govind), Suchit, Sujit, Seema, Sandhya, Preeti, Keerti, Aruna, Praneet and Ratnesh.

The whole team contributed in fulfilling the purpose of the Retreat: bringing awareness to the Youth, spreading the message of Buddha and Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar, also personality development, career counseling, guidance, and play!

With Lots of Metta,
Aruna Kornana

If you'd like to contribute to NNBY's work in India please visit their fundraising website (In the US, we recommend

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Indian Buddhist youth gather in Bodh Gaya

News is just in of the first-ever NNBY Youth retreat held at Bodh Gaya, place of the Buddha’s enlightenment some 2,500 years ago. NNBY stands for the Indian ‘National Network of Buddhist Youth’, a TBMSG project created some three years ago and now spread across India.

130 young Buddhist men and women came for 4 days from 6 states across India, creating between them a true ‘casteless society’ and giving many their first real taste of Sangha, or spiritual community.

Organising the retreat was a major achievement for them given that Bodh Gaya, up in a remote corner of North-East India, is many hundreds of miles from today’s ‘Buddhist heartland’ down in Maharastra.

The retreat was led by Subhuti on the theme of 'Educate, Agitate, Organise' - Dr. Ambedkar’s famous slogan. They meditated, studied, performed puja -and of course found time to play and sing! You can get a flavour of it from the YouTube video sent us by Dharmashalin - or check their website

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Coming soon - Dhammakranti 'Jumbo' Retreat at Buddhgaya

Nagaketu writes from India with news of the next Dhammakranti Retreat at Buddhgaya - and a way to take part even if you don't happen to be passing.  He says -

"We are very pleased to inform that this year too we are arranging a big Dhammakranti retreat at Buddhgaya. This retreat will be held from 18th October to 23rd October 2009 at the Triratna Centre, TBMSG land, Buddhgaya.

"This is our 8th successive Dhammakranti retreat. Up till now we have successfully arranged three of these retreats at TBMSG’s ‘Hsuan Tsang’ retreat centre at Bordharan, one at Nagpur and three at Buddhagaya. So this is going to be the fourth retreat in succession at Buddhgaya.

"It is a wonderful and spiritual experience to be in retreat at the Enlightenment place of the Buddha. On the retreat we will do Meditation under the Bodhi Tree, listen to Dhamma Talks, enjoy Buddhist Rituals, participate in Group Discussion and Cultural Activities.

"This way we feel and experience ourselves to be close to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. These retreats have already made a considerable impact throughout India, giving people from all castes and classes and opportunity to practise the Dhamma together and form a casteless Society in the true sense. In India this is truly a precious opportunity.

"Hence you are kindly invited to join us in this noble work by personally attending the retreat or by making generous donations. To make a donation please visit Thank you.

"Your contribution will help us to take the Dhamma to hundreds of people in India.

"With metta, Ritayush, Nagaketu, Sadhanaratna, Maitriveer Nagarjuna, Padmadarshi, Ratnadarshi, Kshitivajra and All the Dhammakranti Team".

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Friday, August 21, 2009

New on FWBO Features: TBMSG Thirty Years On, a talk by Lokamitra

Today we publish the first of a new series of Feature articles in FWBO News.

TBMSG Thirty Years On” is a transcript from a talk by Lokamitra given to the International Order Convention held at Bodh Gaya, India, earlier this year. TBMSG - or the Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana, the Friends of the Great Buddhist Community of the Triple World - is the name adopted by the FWBO in India.

Lokamitra’s talk is a wide-ranging review of TBMSG’s many achievements over the past 30 years; an analysis of the remarkable coincidence of vision that existed between Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO/TBMSG and Dr. Ambedkar, leader of India’s Dalits; and a blueprint, or even vision, of the future.

He begins - “In October 1977 Surata and I visited Buddha Gaya, en route to Kalimpong and then to Pune. This was before our movement in India had started. While I had deep and satisfying experiences, I was very saddened to see the temple so dirty and full of people who regarded the Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu”.

And ends -

“Over the next generation or two the equation between the Indian and Western wings of our movement will change considerably. India will soon have most Order Members including many experienced teachers, and this in the midst of an enormous Buddhist community, which itself will have an increasingly positive impact on the social and political life of India.

“At the same time the world economy is changing, affecting the dynamics of world politics. India is in between West and China, geographically and culturally, and accessible to both.

“As more and more people in the West turn to Buddhism, as Buddhism continues to return to China and is reborn in India, Buddha Gaya is going to become even more significant. All this will open vast new horizons for our movement in ways we cannot imagine at present, while at same time presenting us, as individuals and as a spiritual community, with new demands and challenges...”

His article is available in full on FWBO Features here -

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Photos from the Order Convention

Last month the WBO held it’s first-ever International Order Convention at Bodh Gaya, in India, site of the Buddha’s Enlightenment and centre of the Buddhist world.

Since then a number of photo collections have appeared on the internet and we thought we’d share some with FWBO readers.

Photos from Bodh Gaya and the Order Convention


Ashvajit -




Gunabhadri -


Taranita (whose photos include a few of the ITBCI school in Kalimpong) 

From FWBO Photos

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Naming the ‘Three Jewels Centre’ in Bodhgaya

Nissoka, a British Order Member who has for many years worked to develop the FWBO/TBMSG’s activities in Bodh Gaya, sends us this report -

“Last month was an historic moment in the growth of our movement, and a historic moment for our team working on the project in Bodhgaya. 500 Order Members came together for our first International Convention in India, and it was held on our land in Bodhgaya. This was followed by a Dhammakranti retreat for 300 friends, mitras and order members.

“Bhante, despite his strong love of India, couldn’t come physically but he graced the event in style by sending us a video, in the middle of which he revealed his new name for our land and work there. With an impish touch of humour, he recorded the video, and had it sent to the Convention, with strict instructions not to let anyone see it until the day of its launch.

“So it was with great joy and a sense of going into the unknown, we sat inside a big Marquee watching him on a big screen. It’s great how technology can bring him to an event without him coming! I definitely felt his presence was there. When he released the name at the end I just felt waves of delight, devotion and love towards him for giving such a simple yet true name........The Three Jewels Centre!!

“There was not one person in our community who didn’t have a big wide eyed smile as we celebrated – it was like we’d won the world cup or something ! !

“At the heart of life at the Three Jewels Centre MUST be a living spiritual community, who live in accordance with and represent our ideals. With a strong community we can connect with others who come here to meet the Buddha.

“The Sangha must live in Bodhgaya. We don’t need fancy buildings, which can be just empty symbolic follies, token shrines and market places: we need the real community of Sangha. We need to represent our part of the Buddhist Tradition, helping all visitors and Sangha members to connect with its true significance. Faith arises upon seeing the Buddha, seeing the Buddha in his fullness, and what he taught. You cannot have faith in the Buddha if when you come here you are met by heartless big temples that have no living Communities. It is within the Sangha and the Dhamma that the Buddha comes alive, it is with those communities that his vision is realized and communicated.

“It is our responsibility as Buddhists in the 21st century to take up this flame. To live in Bodhgaya as Sangha. To serve all those who come to Bodhgaya looking for the Buddha. So many people make an effort to come, whether they are beginners who come for the first time, or veteran practitioners with new and deeper questions. We must speak up for the Buddha’s vision, like Protectors of the faith. The flame cannot die in our hands. We must work hard to keep the Buddha’s victory alive at Bodhgaya, keep engaged in inward and outward activity.

“All three Jewels must burn bright on our land. Those who visit must meet the Sangha... hear the Dharma… and meet the Buddha.

“The Three Jewels Symbol and name is statement of our intent. It feels so very appropriate that this simple yet deeply significant symbol blazes at our gate. It is a sign that our land is to become ablaze with all the depth and breadth of our great movement.

“May all beings be touched by the peace of the great Bo tree. Nissoka”

The Bodh Gaya team have been developing a more detailed vision for the land, and have just launched this together with an appeal for funds. You’ll find both at .

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

New videos of Sangharakshita available online

Last month we published a recording of an interview with Sangharakshita, recorded in Birmingham but screened at the International Order Convention in Bodhgaya. This had to be temporarily withdrawn due to overload on the host site; we are pleased to announce that it is again available for general viewing. This time it is on VideoSangha, the FWBO’s video-sharing website.

The link is -

If you want to order a copy from Clear Vision you can do so at

The following links may also be of interest

Bhante talking about Bodhgaya:

Bhante's talk on some of the Teachers on the FWBO Refuge Tree - Jan 09:

Bhante's unveiling of the new LBC shrine:

Bhante's conversation with Maitreyabandhu in November 08:

Photos taken at the Convention in Bodh Gaya can be viewed at (taken by Vilasamani)
or (taken by Samacitta)

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Order Convention in Bodh Gaya in pictures

Mahamati, International Order Convenor and organiser of the Order Convention at Bodh Gaya, sends us this update –

“Hello all, a brief note from Bodh Gaya where the Convention is going exceptionally well. We have nearly 350 Indian Order Members here and 160 Order Members from outside India – in fact it could be slightly more as we have not yet got the final figures from the registration of the Indian Order Members.

The interview with Bhante went down very well – and as some of you will have heard if you have watched the video, at the end of the interview he gives the new name for the land

It is "The Three Jewels Centre". Amazingly, the name is already up on the signboard, with our big Three Jewels order emblem as instructed by Bhante!

We are all doing refuge tree practice beneath the Bodhi Tree each morning, and puja beneath the Tree each evening.

In fact here is the programme below...


Daily events:
Refuge Tree practice in front of the Bodhi Tree.
Evening Puja in front of the Bodhi Tree.

Tuesday 24th February
“Seven events after the Enlightenment”: Talk by Sudarshan
TBMSG Day: Book launches: Vimalasara’s Hindi edition of “Broken Voices”; Prajnajit’s book of Marathi poetry
Screening of Interview with Bhante: “The Legacy of Sangharakshita”.

Wednesday 25th February:
“The Significance of Bodhgaya”: Talk by Nissoka
Dedication of land with new name given by Bhante.

Thursday 26th February
Women’s Day and Men’s Day:
separate programmes

Friday 27th February
Celebrating 30 years of TBMSG: “30 Years On”: Talk by Lokamitra
“Panorama of memories: 30 Years of TBM”: Symposium of talks chaired by Bodhisen

Saturday 28th Feb
The Unity of the Order - Talks by Parami and Silavati:.
Tabla recital by Mukesh Jardo with accompaniment on our land.


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Friday, February 27, 2009

Sangharakshita interview premiered at Order Convention in India

Sangharakshita in interview at MadhyamalokaA significant part of the International Order Convention in Bodh Gaya has been a full-length interview with Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO and Western Buddhist Order.

Now aged 84, he’s not there himself – the video was recorded a month or so ago in Birmingham, UK, and has been prepared for viewing by the FWBO’s ClearVision film crew.

It’s been kept under tight security until now, mostly because in it he ‘reveals’ the new name for the combined FWBO/TBMSG Centre at Bodh Gaya – which is now ‘coming to life’ after an extended period of planning and preparation.

Now the interview’s been shown in India, it’s been uploaded by ClearVision website for all to see - in fact Bhante specifically requested it be shown more widely than just the Convention.

The link is

However - there's a second recent interview with Bhante, speaking specifically about Bodh Gaya, available here -

The Western Buddhist Order’s biannual International Order Convention is taking place at Bodh Gaya from Feb 23rd - March 1st, and is the first ever International Order Convention held outside of UK. Attending are more than 160 Order Members from outside India and about 300 living in India (mostly Indian of course, but some Westerners too). The event is being held on our own land on the outskirts of the town, though of course those present are spending plenty of time meditating and doing puja close to the Bodhi Tree.

In the interview, Sangharakshita addresses topics such as the significance of gathering at Bodh Gaya, his own decision not to attend, reflections on “The Essential Sangharakshita” (a very substantial compendium of his writing, recently released by Wisdom Publications), his thoughts on his ‘legacy’, and his comments on an oft-quoted remark he is supposed to have made, to the effect that members of the Order “can change everything except the Going for Refuge”.

There’s also Sangharakshita’s reflections on meditation, on insight, on inspiration, and on the part our Movement has played in the revival of Buddhism in India. Last but by no means least, there’s his announcement of the new name for our Centre at Bodh Gaya…

We'll post a report and photos on the Order Convention on Sunday.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Order Convention at Bodh Gaya

The Mahabodhi Temple at duskToday sees the start of the 2009 International Order Convention – which for the first time in the FWBO’s 40 years is not taking place in the UK. It is in fact being held at Bodh Gaya in north-eastern India, site of the Buddha’s Enlightenment 2,500 years ago.

FWBO News hopes to bring you regular updates of events there over the next days, and of the big ‘Dhammakranti’ (meaning ‘Dhamma Revolution’) retreat that will immediately follow on – on which there may be up to 1,000 people.

To set the scene, we begin with a piece from Aranyaka, newly ordained and in India for the first time in over 20 years… He writes -

Glimpses of Buddhist Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya is amazing and mad…. On my first visit to the Mahabodhi temple I was struck by how beautiful the structure is – far more so than I had gleaned from Photos. The next thing that I found very striking is how definitely it is NOT a dusty, crusty relic or museum but a living place full of devotion, aspiration and practice. There is the fantastic array of Dharma on display from all over the globe, in all sorts of strange and wonderful shapes, sizes, colours and forms – some of them particularly intriguing to my eye such as wrapping up the temple in a large length of golden cloth- and the cacophony of discordant pujas assaulting the ears simultaneously from all directions. Everybody is free to give expression to whatever form their devotion takes and does. And everyone is treated equally in this, Tibetan, Indian, Thai, Bhikkhu or Dalai Lama… Equally striking is how happy everyone is to allow everybody else to do their own thing with absolutely no sense of the annual punch-up that can be witnessed in Bethlehem! The worst that seems to happen is people quietly ignoring each other.

So highlights: The madness of the Nyingma Monlam (prayer festival): huge numbers of Nyingmapas doing pujas all over the temple, each with their own sound system, which always goes on until 11 and sometimes even 12 o’clock! I am very struck at how similar the Tibetan monastic system is and its place in the culture to what was around in medieval Europe say at the time of Cluny or Citieux. Huge institutions that are enormously wealthy and politically embroiled, full of large numbers of monks mechanically performing liturgy but which also act as central social institutions for education etc. Definitely not the naively romantic situation I suspect envisaged by many Western followers here.

A few weeks ago they brought out the relics of the Buddha, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana for the annual display of three days. There was to be a big procession around the town with the relics being paraded on elephants (along with monks, soldiers, obligatory dignitaries, carnival floats and several thousand school children). Nissoka and I offered to help and on the ended up in the escort for the elephant with the Buddhas relics in. It was needless to say all somewhat chaotic but I ended up walking alongside this lovely big elephant along with (completely unplanned) a Thai Bhikkhu, a Vietnamese Nun and a Tibetan Monk: Theravadayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana and Navayana! How incredibly appropriate.

It was a fantastic day and really fun - the Vietnamese nun kept putting flowers in my ears and bursting out laughing!. All the while the relics were being showered with flower petals, and the monk n the palanquin would periodically throw some out to be collected by (usually) Tibetan devotees standing by. So I spent two hours being rained on with flower petals from that had been in contact with the Buddha relics. As you may know I am not one for such language but it was a bit like being in a Mahayana Sutra and being showered with Amrita, and by the end I realised that wherever I had been for the last couple of hours it had not been Bodhgaya. Perhaps not quite the Tusita heaven but....

The community who live on our land at Bodh Gaya gave some assistance to an impressive Ambedkarite Buddhist Lady called Sunniti, who we was here to help some friends as they single-handedly reintroduced the Bhikkhuni sangha into the Theravada. Couldn't resist a bit of controversy! It was apparently successful so the Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha now exists again – though no doubt no one will recognize them and I have to say I feel it’s all a bit misguided anyway (cf 43 Years Ago, one of my favourite and IMO most underappreciated books by Sangharakshita).

I have been living on the land here with the community (3 young but dedicated Indian Dhammamitras, Siladitya and occasional visitors) and helping out where I can with the preparation for the convention – which has been going very well. An amazing tent has risen out of the land in the last few weeks. The community is small but has suddenly expanded to about 15 in the last couple of days - not including the 25-strong convention team that have just arrived! But this being India we all just fit in!

We have also been holding an open chapter meeting each week for any order members in Bodhgaya. So far this has now included Nissoka, myself, Siladitya, Vajralila, Sudakini, Shantigosh, Rochani and most recently Parami. The fact that we do not necessarily speak the same language has not mattered a jot! What an interesting Sangha Bodhgaya shows us to be…

Till next time



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Saturday, January 03, 2009

FWBO People: Shashi Kumar

Shashi's mum cutting the ribbon to open the new school, Shashi on the rightThis week's 'FWBO Person' features Shashi Kumar, a mitra from Bodh Gaya, India. Nearly ten years ago he was sponsored by two Dutch friends to begin a seven-year course in traditional Thanka painting, with a Tibetan monastery in Nepal. He graduated some two years ago and two weeks ago, after a long struggle, opened his first School of Thangka Painting. He’s very recently written to FWBO News to say -

“This is a very pleasant occasion for me - to give news to all my friends who have been encouraging me since I took admission at Shechen monastery to study thangka painting.

“Now I have opened a thangka painting school called BODHICHITRA, the Bodhichitra School of Thangka Painting. It’s in Bodhgaya, my home town, on the way to the Root Institute.

“As most of my friends know, I have had this dream from the time I first learned that thangka art originally came from Magadha, the area where Buddha was enlightened and spent most of his time in teaching and meditation. These days Magadha has disappeared and we know the area as Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Patna and Varanasi.

We’re offering a comprehensive 4-year program in the skills to create thangka in the Karma Gadri tradition, including theory, iconography, composition, and painting. We’re especially looking for local students, male or female, with the following qualifications:

* At least 15 years of age
* In Good health and of sound mind
* Secondary Education
* A strong sense of commitment to sacred painting

Students on one of the first coursesOf course we also offer short courses ranging in length from weekend to week-long – these will be of more interest to visiting Westerners. They will focus on specific content, such as painting a particular deity or mandala

Shashi ends by saying –

“Our students come to us with tremendous interest but few resources. The state of Bihar, in which Bodhgaya is located, is India's poorest. But because the area is so underdeveloped, even a small amount of money can go a long way.

“For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per day, you can support a student at the Bodhichitra school of Thangka Painting for one year. Prayers are said daily for the sponsor and all of the sacred art work the student produces is spiritually dedicated to the sponsor. Once a year the student will send a thangka painted specifically for the health and long-life of his or her sponsor. We are currently operating out of rented facilities and are seeking friends to help us move into a more permanent home. If you are interested in helping seed great merit, please mail me or see our website for more details on sponsorship and other ways offering support.”

They have a beautiful new website,, and you can also contact him by phone on +91 99319 33838 or email

Sadhu, Shashi!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sangharakshita's news: an update

Sangharakshita in a study seminar at MadhyamalokaSangharakshita’s diary last appeared in FWBO News in early October. Dharmamati, his secretary, has sent us this update. He writes -

Bhante's health:
Bhante continues to be in quite good health since the last report. His eyesight has been stable and he is still able to read large print, with the aid of a illuminated magnifying glass. He is also able to draft his own correspondence by hand.

The main event for September was Bhante's visit to Krakow, Poland, where he opened the small but beautiful Krakow Buddhist Centre. Nityabandhu and others had put much hard work into creating a very welcoming space for Buddhist activities. This was Bhante's second visit to Krakow.

His first took place six years ago, when he launched the publication of a Polish translation of 'The Survey' Since then three more of his books have been translated into Polish and published. At the opening he cut the ribbon to the Shrine room. After everyone was seated Nityabandhu led a short meditation followed by an introduction. Bhante followed this with a short talk on 'Sanghaloka' the name Nityabandhu had given the centre. This was followed by the dedication ceremony led in Polish by Nityabandhu.

The opening ceremony concluded with a fanfare from a trumpeteer. This was inspired by the golden trumpet that resounds, every hour, from the municipal tower above Krakow's central square, originally signalling the approach of enemy forces. This was followed by light refreshments in the reception area.

In October Bhante spent 12 days at Padmaloka, leading study for the Men Mitra Convenors, on his 1975 lecture 'Enlightenment as Experience - and as Non-Experience. He also performed a Kalyana Mitra ceremony for Nityabandhu in the shrine room. Nityabandhu's Kalyana Mitra's are Satyaraja and Paramabandhu.

On Sunday the 9th of November Bhante took part in the 30th anniversary celebrations of the London Buddhist Centre. In the morning he cut the ribbon, marking the sunday opening of Friends Organic. The afternoon started in the main shrine room of the LBC where Maitreyabandhu publicly interviewed Bhante on his recollections of the early days of the LBC (this interview was filmed by clear vision). After this Bhante proceeded to unveil the "magnificent" painting by Aloka in the new basement shrine room.

Aloka's new painting installed in the LBC's new basement shrine roomThis painting is a triptych depicting the Buddha Shakyamuni with his two chief disciples in the central panel, flanked by the Bodhisattvas and the Arahants in the left and right hand panels respectively. Bhante spoke briefly about this painting.

A few days later Amitasuri came to interview Bhante at Madhyamoloka on the importance of the FWBO's land at Bodhgaya. He spoke about his own experience of Bodghaya, why he wanted the FWBO/TBMSG to purchase some land there and the use that he thought this land should be put to. This was significant given that Bodhgaya is the location of the next International Order Convention.

During the above period Bhante continued to see individuals virtually every day both at Madhyamaloka and wherever he travelled. He also worked on the 'Precious Garland Seminar' with Samacitta and completed study on the Parayana Vagga of the Sutta-Nipata with a local Men's chapter. The Precious Garland is due to be released by Windhorse in 2009.

For the rest of November and December Bhante will be staying at Madhyamaloka and does not intend to do any travelling. He will, however, continue to meet people individually, do editing work on the 'Precious Garland Seminar' and, weather permitting, go for his daily walk in the large Madhyamaloka garden.

The next planned visit will be to the European Chairs Assembly at Taraloka in January, where he will give a talk and a question and answer session.

In 2009 he'll be making a tour of a number of FWBO Centres to launch 'The Essential Sangharakshita' - a handsome 750-page compendium of his writings now available for advance orders from Windhorse Publications. FWBO News hopes to carry a review of this very soon.


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Friday, September 19, 2008

7th International Dhammakranti retreat to be held at Buddhagaya

Nagaketu, Executive Director of the TBMSG’s ‘Dhammakranti Project’ in India, has written to FWBO News to say –

“We are very happy to inform you that the TBMSG's Dhammakranti Team is organizing the 7th International Dhammakranti Retreat at Buddha Gaya (in the State of Bihar, India) from 1st to 6th March 2009. All readers of FWBO/TBMSG News are warmly invited to attend.

“This is a good opportunity to practice in the most holy place for Buddhists in the world. It is a rare opportunity to practice and learn the Dhamma with hundred of other Buddhists from India and the World.

“This will be the third and largest International Dhammakranti Retreat in Buddha Gaya organized by the Dhammakranti Social Institute, TBMSG, India. These retreats have made a considerable impact throughout India, giving people from all castes and classes an opportunity to practice Dhamma together and form a Casteless Society in the true sense. In India this is truly a precious opportunity.

“Many people from very poor economic backgrounds, from many Indian states, are going to participate in the retreat. A donations scheme is being set up to assist many of them to attend, and this report is an appeal for donations – see the contact details below or our special fundraising website Your donation will help hundreds of India’s new Buddhists to have this unique experience in their life.

“Come and join this historic event to transform our society to a New Society – one based on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, and fulfill the dream of Bodhisattva Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

“The major attractions on the retreat are Meditation under the Bodhi Tree, Dhamma Talks, Buddhist Rituals, Group Discussions & Cultural Activities. All present will be making a contribution to reviving the Dhammachakra (Dhamma Revolution) in the World. Dhammachari Subhuti will lead the Retreat. The retreat will be held at the Nyingma Monastery in Buddha Gaya.

“For more details please contact us at, tel 0091-9371181404, or check our website

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

1,200 people on retreat at Bodh Gaya

FWBO News is delighted to be able to finally present reports on the three major retreats recently organised by the Dhammakranti project. They estimate that around two thousand people have benefited from these events – all the more remarkable in that they were held in northern India, a thousand miles from TBMSG’s ‘homeland’ in Maharastra. This testifies to their increasing success in ‘breaking out’ and making effective contact with people from other castes and living in other States.

The retreats were held in Bodhgaya, Jalandhar and Haryana, and were followed by a north India Dhamma tour led by Subhuti. This report covers only the Bodh Gaya retreat – there’s more to come…

First came the International Dhammakranti retreat at Bodhgaya, which had as its theme “The life of the Buddha”. This was a five-day retreat attended by around 1200 people - men, women and children - from 16 states of India. Nagaketu, the retreat’s organiser, told FWBO News “It was very pleasing and satisfying for the participants to know Buddha in the place of Enlightenment of the Buddha. They could relate directly to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, they could see history revived before them”.

For four consecutive days special Pujas were arranged at the Mahabodhi Temple, with two being held right under the sacred Bodhi tree. The highlight and culmination of the retreat were the ‘Mitra Ceremonies’, simple ceremonies of commitment performed all over the FWBO and TBMSG, where more than 100 participants from different parts of India became Dhammamitras under the Bodhi tree on 16th Nov 07. As Nagaketu put it “These new Mitras accepted Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha as their highest ideals in their lives”.

Various cultural events adorned the retreat, such as ‘Kawwali’ songs (by a group from Lucknow), a mime show (by Varaprabha) and dramas and songs by children, plus special games & programs for the children. Finally, at the end of the retreat, a special pilgrimage tour was arranged to visit Sarnath, Varanasi, Nalanda, Rajgir, all places associated with life of Buddha and Buddhism.

The last word should go to Nagaketu, who told us “The participants were very positive & at their spiritual height. Thanks to the retreat they could experience a living example of a caste-free society and Buddhist community. Hence they gained more faith in the Three Jewels.”


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Monday, December 10, 2007

Thanka painting workshops, and more, at Bodh Gaya

For some years now the FWBO/TBMSG has owned land at Bodh Gaya, site of the Buddha’s Enlightenment. Development on our land has been slow, partly due to its distance from all our other centres, including TBMSG’s Indian centres, plus the difficulty of operating in Bihar – one of India’s most backward and lawless states. Things are now starting to move – over the past two years two very spacious ‘huts’ have been constructed, offering accommodation for visitors and the small residential community, trees have been planted, and activities are beginning.

Thanks to the Nagarjuna Training Institute in Nagpur, there are now ten Bihari mitras in and around Bodh Gaya, plus several who contacted us through Nissoka or Lalitavajra’s Dharma classes there. One of these is Shashi Kumar, recently returned to Bodh Gaya after six years in Nepal, where he studied traditional Thanka painting at the Shechen Monastery, Kathmandu. His father is a well-known carver of Buddhist rupas, with a small shop in the centre of town.

Shashi is planning to set up a Thanka painting studio and tuition centre in Bodh Gaya, and recently conducted a painting workshop on our land. Any visitors are invited to contact him and he is able to accept commissions. Check his website or slideshow for a taste of his work, or email him here.

Also living in Bodh Gaya is Sachin Bhongade, a mitra from Nagpur in Central India – over 1,000 miles away, where the customs and even the language is different. He recently led the local mitras to the big TBMSG retreat centre at Bor Dharan, near Nagpur, for a retreat on the life of Dr. Ambedkar. On his return he sent FWBO News this report -

“I am in Buddhagaya and I was thinking to write you all about the retreat. I took seven youths from Buddhagaya to Bordharan for the retreat. They all are very good friends of mine, and four are from the Siddharth Nagar area – a very poor part of town where the local Buddhists live. I would like to appreciate Dhammachari Ratnaketu who sponsored for the retreat for them all.

"The subject of the retreat was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s great qualities. It was a great time for my friend – the first time ever they experienced a different life to their usual life in Bihar. It was so inspiring for them and enjoyable for us all.

"In the beginning the retreat started in Marathi language (the local language of Maharastra) and that was a big problem for my friends from Bihar so the leader of the retreat decided to arrange a separate class for them. That class was led by Dhammachari Ansulkumar and me. After this was arranged, they mixed very inspiringly and enjoyably in the retreat.

"Then everybody came back to Buddhagaya. In the beginning it was really great for all they were all finding they were different in themselves. And now some of us are getting together everyday in the evening under the Bodhi Tree in Mahabodhi Temple - we do Pali puja and meditation, and every Sunday we have long time class and some interesting discussions about basic Buddhism.”

Editor’s note - It is sad to note that since this retreat, Ansulkumar died unexpectedly in a bad motorcycle accident, and Ratnaketu struck down by a stroke – he is now recovering in New Zealand.

Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha…

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Celebrating Dr. Ambedkar in India and UK

October 14th is the anniversary of the conversion to Buddhism of Dr. Ambedkar, and is a major event for all our centres in India. They celebrate his conversion to Buddhism in 1956, together with 400,000 of his followers, and his few short weeks as a Buddhist before his death on December 6th of that year. It is very much a bitter-sweet time for them.

This year they were joined by the North London Buddhist Centre who hosted an 'Ambedkar Festival' which they hope may become an annual event. Entitled 'Celebrating the New Dawn of Indian Buddhism', the day set out to educate, inspire, and celebrate - and succeeded handsomely in all three. Some 200 people attended some or all of the day, and were treated to a programme of talks, a wide selection of workshops including practical information on how to get involved (both in the UK and in India), and to both Indian and Western music which went on into the evening.

Sangharakshita had been due to give the keynote speech but sadly had to cancel at the very last minute due to his poor health. Happily, due to the foresight of Saul Deason, the organiser, Lokabandhu was primed to step in, and among other things offered his reflection that the future of the new Buddhist movement in India was very much up to us, at least up to our generation, since the great leaders of the past were no longer with us - the Buddha, Ambedkar himself, and now Sangharakshita.

By coincidence, FWBO News came to know that at the same time, far away in Bodh Gaya, in the north-eastern Indian state of Bihar, the community living on FWBO/TBMSG's land there were conducting a small programme of their own in honour of Dr. Ambedkar, attended by some 50 local residents including Theravadin monks with whom they have become friendly. The programme took place in the earth-brick huts recently constructed by Nissoka, and was felt by those present to be a small but significant step in establishing ourselves on our land at Bodh Gaya. There are now some 10 mitras in and around Bodh Gaya.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Dhammakranti retreat at Bodh Gaya - 1,500 booked and counting...

November 11th sees the start of the annual TBMSG ‘Dhammakranti’ retreat at Bodh Gaya. Nagaketu, the organiser, told FWBO News “So far 1500 people have booked for the retreat and in addition we are expecting at least another 1000 people”. All are welcome, from East and West, and people will be coming from many different castes and communities all over India - one aim of the retreat is to exemplify a ‘casteless society’ which is so necessary if Buddhism is to become truly established across India. The retreat will be held at the Nyingma Monlam monastery 1 mile from the Mahabodhi Temple and the program will include daily walking mediations to the Temple and within the temple grounds.

They are still appealing for funds to subsidise the attendance of very poor people who simply cannot afford the Rs.650 (UK £8) the retreat is costing. Donations are invited for the sponsoring of places, please contact FWBO News if you would like to give in this way. Payment is possible internationally via Paypal, and further details of the retreat are available from the Dhammakranti website.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

International Dhammakranti Retreat in Buddha Gaya

FWBO News is happy to pass on this announcement and request from Nagaketu at our Dhammakranti team in India. Previous stories from this great project have included their Delhi symposium and their tour of South India late last year.

Dear friends,

We are very happy to inform you that we are organising the 6th International Dhammakranti Retreat in Buddha Gaya (in the State of Bihar, India) from 11th Nov. to 17th November 2007 at the Nyingma Monastery in Buddha Gaya. This is going to be the second and largest International Dhammakranti Retreat in Buddha Gaya organized by Dhammakranti Social Institute, TBMSG, India.

This is a good opportunity to be in the most holy place for Buddhists in the world. It is a rare opportunity to practice and learn the Dhamma with 3000 to 5000 people from India and the World.

These retreats have made a considerable impact throughout India – they give people from all castes and classes the opportunity to practice Dhamma together and form a Casteless society in the true sense. In India this is truly a precious opportunity.

This retreat is an opportunity for people to interact with others from all different caste and international backgrounds. We will meet everybody deeply enough, and in sufficient unity and harmony, that our biases towards seeing people as higher or lower than us will simply vanish.

Many people from very poor economic backgrounds, from many Indian states, are going to participate in the retreat. A donations scheme is being set up to assist many of them to attend, and this report is an appeal for donations – see the contact details below. Your donation will help hundreds of them to have this unique experience in their life.

Come and join this historic event to transform the Society, based on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, and fulfill the dream of Bodhisattva Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Dhammachari Subhuti will lead the Retreat, which will be on the theme of the Life of the Buddha.

The major attractions on the retreat are Meditation, Talks, Buddhist Rituals, Group Discussions & Buddhist Cultural activities.

We are expecting 200 Westerners and 100 Order Members (Dhammacharis) from India and Abroad.

Fees: for westerners 100 pounds uk/200 us dollars per person.

Book your place now and Contribute in reviving the Dhammachakra (Dhamma Revolution) in the World.

Let us participate in the Humanitarian Revolution to make an Equal Society for all.

To book, to make a donation, or for more details please contact us at:

Central office Nagpur: 0091-712-3241512 | e-mail | web site

Please pass this information on to as many people as possible.

Yours in the Dhamma,

Nagaketu, Ritayush, & Maitriveer Nagarjuna
Central Organizing Committee, FWBO/TBMSG Dhammakranti Social Institute, Nagpur, India.

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