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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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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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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jai Bhim International reports...

Jai Bhim International is an innovative FWBO project based in San Francisco.  “Caste Free Generation” is their slogan: Ann Dennehy, Jai Bhim’s Director, describes their mission as “providing Indian Buddhist youth with the spiritual, educational, and emotional tools to create personal and social change, for a culture freed of caste prejudice and discrimination”.

They’ve had a busy few months, as Ann reports -

“jai bhim friends and family, near and far. i hope this message finds you all well. thanks to all of you for your support, creative support, financial support, moral support, as we launched our non-profit last year. things are going really well.
India trip
i returned from my third india trip in january, and am planning projects for this year in my new homebase, the bamboo garden here in san francisco.  lots of support building here in sf for our work. hosting a monthly happy hour the last friday of every month. and facebook has been great..

“in india i spent time with our board members kumarjeev, kamalshree and nagarjuna, and re-connected with many of the youth leaders i'd met at the nnby conference last year. i spent time again in central india, in nagpur, where i piloted our teacher training workshops for indian english teachers. i also went north to delhi and to some smaller villages in rajasthan.
community english project

“in the year ahead i will be brainstorming with our indian board members and with indian youth leaders, as well as our american board members and english advisory board, about a community english project, which will be our main focus for 2009. our vision so far is to bring a buddhist-based esl curriculum to smaller dalit communities, and to work intensively with local indian english teachers to lead interactive, communicative student-centered english sessions that will empower language learning in their communities.

“we will be drawing on dr. ambedkar's vision, and on the vision of his mentor at columbia university, john dewey, as well as the revolutionary brazilian educator paolo freire. in addition to creating a curriculum, we are developing a manifesto for the project, so that everyone involved is clear on the project's goals. all this will  be posted as updates on our website.
local events

"locally we have been hosting events to bring people together. we are having a monthly happy hour, the last friday of every month. and this summer our board member maw, our artist friends and i will coordinate a bigger local arts event. in january i was asked to make a presentation about my trip to my department at the city college downtown campus. i received a very friendly reception and was asked to present further at other campuses, which we are now coordinating. and connecticut college, my alma mater, has asked me to write an article for the alumni magazine, a beautiful glossy publication that has won several awards.
"also i wanted to tell you about our big project for the fall - jai bhim international is going to declare october as AMBEDKAR MONTH!  the two goals of the project are #1 to bring people from the san francisco area into the jai bhim community through fun, and #2 to educate folks here about dr. ambedkar and the dalit buddhist movement. we are coordinating with the san francisco center, and reaching out to other buddhist centers in other traditions, as a way of spreading the word about our movement in india.

“we are scheduling a bunch of events that could lead up to a puja/kirtan on october 14th, which is a wednesday - as you know well, october 14th is the anniversary of the great mass conversion- the official start of the dalit buddhist movement.

“before then, in august and september,  we're going to make as many presentations as possible all over the city/bay area, at libraries, bookstores, university and high school classes, other buddhist centers, with the theme of "who is dr. ambedkar?" i imagine plastering the city with simple posters with an image of dr. ambedkar and that line ("who is dr. ambedkar?"), and a link to the jai bhim website. a guerilla campaign! i am coordinating with friends of the public library, my colleagues at city college, and others.

“more prosaically, lots of paperwork to keep up on as we get the non-profit established. board member sarah brown has been helping me do our books and we ended 2008 with a surplus of $278.15! now we are getting ready to file additional paperwork with the i.r.s. in order for them to approve our 501c3 status.  We’re still busy fundraising – please visit our page
“in closing i'd like to again express my gratitude for sharing the vision for our work. thank you for all your gestures of encouragement and support. jai bhim. love, ann”

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Youth of India Roars in 2nd National Convention of NNBY

The FWBO/TBMSG is an international Buddhist Sangha, with Buddhist Centres in over 20 countries. This internationality is never more evident than when people from opposite sides of the world come together for our big sangha events.

NNBY’s recent annual conference was an example, bringing together people from many communities across India (a major achievement in itself) – and beyond. NNBY is India’s ‘National Network of Buddhist Youth’, a major initiative started some five years ago under the auspices of TBMSG, as the FWBO is known in India.

We’re proud to bring you two reports from the Conference, one from two Indian participants – a colourful and moving photo-journal – and one from Ann Dennehy, a mitra from San Francisco who’s founded ‘Jai Bhim International, an American not-for-profit. Her aim is to “Connect spiritual communities, social change groups, and educators worldwide with Buddhist youth projects in India”.

You can read Deepa and Amrita's account here, boldly entitled “YOUTH OF INDIA ROARS IN 2nd NATIONAL CONVENTION OF NNBY

and Ann’s wide-ranging account of her travels here.

NNBY is still fundraising for its 2009 budget, contributions are invited and can be made online on their Justgiving page

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