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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

News from India's "National Network of Buddhist Youth" - an inauguration in Mumbai, Summer Camp in Northern India; Video from Nagaloka

Today we bring you part 1 of a selection of news from TBMSG in India, where there's been a lot going on!

Inauguration in Mumbai
First is news of the inauguration of NNBY's Mumbai regional centre - NNBY standing for India's "National Network of Buddhist Youth". NNBY is one of the fastest-growing and dynamic wings of TBMSG in India - you'll find a detailed account of their structure, including their decentralised philosophy and Youth Parliaments on their website at

The Mumbai regional centre was inaugurated in early May by Dr. A.H. Salunkhe; should you be in Mumbai you'll find it at Parmita 8th/B Lane, Tagore Nagar, Vikroli (East) Mumbai - you'll find it on the Google map at the bottom of this post.

"We shall bring back Buddhism in Northern India"
Closely following the inauguration in Mumbai was NNBY's “Youth Summer Camp”, a thousand miles away at Dehradun, a hill station in one of the northern provinces of India. Thanks to Ratnesh for this report -

"In this camp a group of 21 youth mainly from Dehradun and its neighbouring cities participated. The aim of the event was to attune the younger generation with the Dhamma; the focus was on the needs of Indian youth. Accordingly in this retreat, we had workshops on Personality Development, Self Development and Leadership Skills - ;plus meditation and puja of course.

Interestingly this retreat was guided by two young Dhammamitras - Pranit and Ratnesh. Pranit taught basic meditation and Puja to the participants and gave talks on basics of Dhamma. He also narrated the life story of the Buddha and Dr. Ambedkar in an emotional and convincing way. His talks were followed by group discussions and Question Answer sessions.

While in the daily afternoon sessions Ratnesh explained Dr. Ambedkar’s perspective on Buddhism such as ‘No Belief in God and Soul’ and also focused on the true meaning of |Personality by referring to Buddhist teachings on ‘mind’, ‘anitya’ and ‘individual’ as the basis of personality; he recounted incidents from the life of the Buddha and Dr. Ambedkar to present the success of the individual efforts in achieving one’s goals. Besides dealing with Buddhist theories, he sung the verses of Kabir (the reformist leader of Medieval India) to develop more attention and clarity on the points.

Disha, one of the young girls present, was so impressed by this explanation that she confessed that earlier she had been considering Buddhism as a religion of the past but now she realized that Buddhism is all time relevant and very much useful in our day-to-day life. Anshu expressed her feelings by saying that ‘this retreat has bought many changes in me, now I am more confident and developed deeper connection with Buddhism’.

Most of the participants who were first timers on any retreat admitted that before coming to this retreat they were not at all willing to participate in it but they were pushed by their Buddhist parents for participation! Happy to say that during this retreat they admitted that they realized the wonder of Buddhism and ended by saying they will never again miss such an opportunity. Kamal, Bittu and Siddharth, three participants from Delhi were so overjoyed they said they will try to bring more and more friends on future retreats and they wanted to be Dhamma activists.

On the last day the teachers and participants greeted each other and paid their special thanks to the senior order members Kumarjeev and Bodhisagar for their active support and help. Bodhisagar who was present in this occasion expressed his joys and satisfaction and promised to arrange such retreats in various parts of northern India. This session was lead by one of the participants Manisha, who confidently led the thanksgiving program.

The Retreat ended with a Hindi Buddhist song ‘Aao Hum sab milkar Itihas Rachaenge’ (Let’s Come together to create a History). Participants with their full joy all together roared ‘JAI BHEEM’ and pledged their desire to bring Buddhism back in its glory in northern India.


Video from Nagaloka
Closely linked to NNBY is TBMSG's training facility at Nagaloka, also known as the Nagarjuna Training Institute. There's a great new video of the students there up on YouTube at - thanks for this goes to Jess Brand from Bristol UK, who taught English there for a while in 2008.

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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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Friday, April 20, 2007

Dhamma Night College, Mumbai

The Dhamma Night College in Mumbai is celebrating one year of actitivites - a report by Dhamamcari Amritdeep.

Dhammachari Anomdassi with the help of Amritdeep & Adityabodhi started a Dhamma Night College in Dombivali Mumbai to benefit the working people who can’t attend classes due to their jobs. For nearly a year now they have been running classes for three different categories. There is a class for people who have asked for ordination), one for the Mitras, and a class for general people. So far many people have prarticipated in these classes. People from other backgrounds also attend the classes.

The class’s main aim is to provide Dhamma teaching to those who don't have good and easy access to Dhamma due to the life in Mumbai so busy, rushing and tense. People have really appreciated the effort Anomdassi Adityabodhi & amritdeep are putting in. Each class has about 30 to 40 people attending each week. A proper syllabus is planned to teach this people.

Anomadassi, Aditybodhi, and Amritdeep are very keen to carry on the activities of the night college in future although there are some difficulties of funds. Karuna initially supported it for six months, but classes are still going on. These Order members are committed to take this work forward. This is really very good initiative taken by this three people, and it is so far very successful.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

50th anniversary of Dr. Ambedkars death - a million gather in Mumbai

Yesterday December 6th saw the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Ambedkar. Estimates vary, but up to 1.5 million people are reported to have gathered at his stupa in Mumbai. This is always a sad date for his followers, coming as it does a tragically short six weeks after his conversion. In Mumbai the anniversary passed off very peacefully despite considerable anxiety – in recent months Maharastra has been rocked by Dalit riots sparked off by inter-caste atrocities and especially the lack of response to them by the authorities. These are a testament to the struggles still facing his people, 50 years on. For an indian analysis of the situation, see the recent article in ‘The Hindu’ – ‘Why are Maharashtra’s Dalits so angry?’.

The 50th anniversary coincided with the publication of a new book commemorating Ambedkar, privately published by Ashvajit in Birmingham – ‘The legacy of Ambedkar – seen from the West’. Fittingly, it was printed by TBMSG members in India, and despite some delays (caused in part by the riots already mentioned) first copies have been reported arriving at FWBO centres around the world.

Meanwhile, the Dhammakranti project continues its country-wide three-month tour , aiming to reach out to as many people as humanly possible during the anniversary period. At present they are on the first-ever Dhamma tour of South India (Tamil Nadu and Kerala), they will end with a ‘Buddhist Youth Conference’ at Bor Dharan, our retreat near Nagpur.

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