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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Death of Sanghapalita

Amrutdeep, from the TBMSG's Order Convening team in India, writes with news of a death in the Order -

Dear Order members,

This is to inform you that Dhammachari Sanghapalita passed away on Friday 8th May at 10.30 p.m. Indian time.

He was at the age of 92 from Wardha Centre, Maharastra, India. He was still active in his Dhamma life.

On Friday about 7 pm, he was crossing through the road to the Wardha Hostel (which is also our Buddhist centre) for attending a special Sevenfold Puja arranged by centre and all of sudden one bike rider dashed him, he was seriously injured, his right leg and right arm got fractured. He was immediately taken to the nearest Hospital but was in very critical situation, struggling to survive but unfortunately could not survive.

This is a great loss to the Whole Order. He was one of the oldest Order members in India. He was ordained in 1987. His sadhana was Sakyamuni Buddha. Please send your maitri.

With Metta.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

A death in the Order

The Mahavihara in Pune, IndiaAmrutdeep has written to FWBO News to inform us of a death in the Order. He says -

"This is to inform you of the extremely sad news of the death of Dhammachari Akashabodhi from Pune, India. Akashabodhi died at approximately 7.00 a.m. Indian time on Wednesday March 11th. He died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack.

"Akashabodhi was aged 49, and he was ordained in 1994, with Suvajra as his private preceptor and Subhuti as his public preceptor. His sadhana was Sakyamuni.The funeral took place the same evening , first at the Mahavihara and then at the nearby cremation ghat. There were maybe 3,000 people present, from Dapodi and surrounding areas where he was very well known and much respected and loved, and also from many other parts of Maharastra as people had set out for Pune immediately on hearing the shocking news of his death.

"Only last night Akashabodhi had given a vote of thanks after a talk by Sudarshan on the occasion of the 19th anniversary of the inauguration of the Mahavihara, and then he joined others in performing a song of Maitri. Those who heard him said that he was in a very positive mental state indeed. The previous week he had been at the International Convention at Bodhgaya which he found greatly inspiring and immediately preceding this he had visited Sarnath, Vaishali and Nalanda with friends.

The Mahavihara in Pune, India"Akasabodhi was a poet and singer, a hugely friendly man who made strong connections not only with many Order members but also with those from other Buddhist groups and political parties, and always he made friends not only with individuals but also with their whole families. For several years he was Chairman of our centre in Dapodi (Mahavihara).

"It's very shocking for us that Akashabodhi has left us, especially so suddenly, and he is going to be greatly missed.

Yours in the Sangha, Dhammachari Amrutdeep,
Co-ordinator of Order Convening Team, India.

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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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Monday, April 28, 2008

Fundraising successes and job opportunties at Karuna

It’s nearly the end of April and 2008 is soon to be 1/3rd gone - and over at the Karuna Trust they’ve been counting their pennies.

Karuna is the FWBO’s most successful fundraising charity: it raises over UK £1.5 million every year for a wide range of Dhamma and social projects in India and elsewhere in South Asia – both inside and outside the FWBO and TBMSG. And they have good news to report – Ādarsha, their Trust fundraiser, tells FWBO News -

“Karuna has raised over £118,000 to date this year from Trusts and Foundations. This money is for a number of specific projects working to tackle caste discrimination, enable women's empowerment and provide educational access for disadvantaged children.

“We were going ask FWBO News to run this story when we crossed the £100,000 mark – then the most recent donation, of £13,000, came in. This is for our women's empowerment project tackling incidents of caste-based violence in a particularly poor region of rural Maharashtra. It’s run by our partner SPMM who do great work with Dalits and Tribal people in India, helping them combat atrocities and discrimination through accessing legal provisions and protecting their statutory entitlements to education and legal protection. You can read some of the latest – and quite shocking - news from this project on Global Giving , an American internet fundraising site that Karuna use. And click here for a fuller list of Karuna’s Global Giving projects.

“This money is of course in addition to the regular donations from Karuna’s network of more than 5,000 donors from all over the UK”.

Karuna Job opportunities
Karuna has grown substantially in recent years, and the Karuna team in London have a number of job opportunities coming up. Check our sister site FWBO Jobs for the details: they represent a great opportunity to get involved if you want to give real practical help to the ‘Dhamma Revolution’ in India.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Death in India

FWBO News is sad to report that an Indian Order Member, Ansulkumar, died in India yesterday, after a serious accident on a motorbike. He is survived by a wife and young daughter. He was 38 years old and worked at Bor Dharan retreat centre near Nagpur, where he was much loved by those who knew him.

Below is a brief account of his remarkable life story, as told to Lokabandhu in the year 2000.

“I was born in Bihar on December 12th, 1969. My people were from the tribal Adiwasi caste, and were Hindus, not followers of Dr. Ambedkar. I had three brothers and a baby sister. Economic conditions were very bad. There was no food and I had no clothes. I was thirteen years old and began to steal and pickpocket. When I was fourteen I was working in a shop, then a hotel, then an iron factory and then a circus, but I was paid only 70 rupees per month. I fell in love when I was still fourteen, but was fearful because there might be violence and even killing if it was discovered. At fifteen I left home, with sadness and no wish to live. I went to the city, planning to die, and the police caught me walking on the railway. They gave me food and I worked in the police quarters washing pots.

For six months I wandered in Bihar, no longer a pickpocket as I was afraid of the police. Then I went to Nagpur on the train, without a ticket. At this time I was very weak, with long hair and dressed in rags. I nearly had a fatal accident jumping on a train. The police took me to hospital, and later ordered me to leave town. Again, I felt I did not want to live. Finally I arrived in Nagpur, where a girl gave me two bananas. I felt very good. I did not want to beg. Later I went into a boy's hostel. The boys in the hostel were very naughty, and we became a violent gang, doing fighting, beating, and robbery. My uncle and aunt took me to another hostel, this time run by Bahujan Hitay. I was eighteen years old.

This was very different - there was discipline, and puja, and no violence. I felt very nervous and thought it was boring. I saw Order Members for the first time, Vivekaprabha and Vimalakirti, and was very impressed. Other people helped me here, and I decided to become a good man like them. I therefore joined TBMSG and attended Dhamma lectures and meditation classes. People still thought of me as a criminal, but I wasn't. I thought of the Buddha gaining Enlightenment, and decided to go into the jungle. I took yellow cloth, and went to stay in the jungle. I had no water or food, and after four days I thought I would not get enlightened there.

At this time there was the opening ceremony for Bor Dharan retreat centre, and Bhante Sangharakshita came on the Maharastra Express. There were huge crowds at the train station, but I pushed my way to the front and gave Bhante a rose. I felt that he saw me and that we were in contact. Still my aunt and uncle were against me practising Buddhism. My aunt brought a 'Tantric Baba' or 'magic man' to cure me. She promised me a wife, a child, and so on, if I would leave it. He used power that came from his eyes, but it did not affect me.

In 1992 I went to live at Bor Dharan community, and there I met Dhammacharis Varaprabha and Nagabhadra, who were anagarikas and wearing robes. I was very impressed and wanted to be one too. Community life there was hard - there was no electricity, no water, no fans, and many mosquitoes. It was very very hot, sometimes as much as 45 degrees. I was working there as a cook, and also doing building work, sometimes for twelve hours a day. In 1993 I became a mitra. I was ordained in 1998 by Subhuti, and took the Padmasambhava practice. My name means "Radiant Prince, the young spiritual hero who shines with spiritual vision." I was ordained with my two friends Kumarayogin and Adityakumar. Now I live in Bhaja village with my wife, and the three of us work at Bhaja retreat centre.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

New map of FWBO/TBMSG in India

A new map is available on-line of all FWBO/TBMSG groups in India. Click here to see it and/or download it from the FWBO Photos site on flickr.

This is probably the first time all of our many centres and groups in India have been collected and made visible in this way. Comments and corrections welcome. For contact details for the centres go to the TBMSG website; for contact details for the smaller groups the best is to try Nagaloka, Dhammakranti outreach project, or the Jambudvipa in Pune

There are also maps on the flickr site for the FWBO's centres and groups in Europe, the UK, and around the world.

You might also like to try exploring Google maps and searching for 'FWBO' or 'TBMSG' - in many cases, incuding in Inda, it is possible to zoom in to a street-level view of our actual centres. Check the Mahavihara in Pune for intance.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mass conversions to Buddhism in India

Reports are coming in from India of a new wave of mass conversions to Buddhism, this time in Mumbai. On Sunday over 100,000 people, mostly from the Adivasis or Tribal communities, converted in a massive ceremony at the Mahalaxmi ground. They were mostly followers of Dalit writer Laxman Mane, who has been touring the State after converting to Buddhism in Nagpur in October 2006.

Readers of FWBO News will remember Vishvapani’s reports of that period, with an account of Mane’s conversion and their meeting. He wrote then -

“In a special ceremony at Dikshabhumi in Nagpur yesterday morning, Mane took the three Buddhist refuges along with 140 leaders of tribal communities from across Maharashtra. Following the ceremony they held a planning session in which they agreed to extend the conversion programme to the other members of their communities, who number at least 500,000. …

When I met him just before he left Nagpur, Mane - a short, solidly built man with an air of sturdy determination – told me of the inspiration he and his fellow converts had gained through the ceremony. ‘My companions left the ceremony different people from the ones who had started it. They were filled with a new inspiration and confidence. We held a planning meeting straight away, and the atmosphere was different from any we had experienced before, full of hope and determination. It was a sudden, dramatic shift. For myself, I felt a new sense of freedom.’”

The conversions in Mumbai are a direct fruit of last October’s events in Nagpur, hopefully one of many. They are being hailed as one of the biggest mass conversions in modern Indian history.

Read the reports from India from The Hindu or the Times of India. More pictures are in the Mangalorean Times.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

TBMSG Youth-work

Dharmacari Satyadeep sends this report from Maharastra:

The picture shows a workshop held on 11 February for the youth in Solapur, Southern Maharastra. This is new initiative to help youth to develop their personality, positive attitude and confidence. Eighty girls and Boys were present from all the backgrounds. this activity seems very helpful to attract youth to the movement. So far we have offered four workshops since January 2007, which have been attended by 350 to 400 young boys & girls. We have formed a group of 20 people who are now being trained for youth work. These people will take responsibility to work among the youth in different part of Maharashtra.

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