Following a series of meetings and events across India and Asia since December last year to promote the Mahakaruna Diwas 2023 Celebration for Global Compassion—an initiative aimed at averting further global catastrophes through compassion in action*—the spiritual leader and socially engaged Buddhist monk Venerable Bhikkhu Sanghasena, spiritual director of the Mahabodhi International Meditation Center (MIMC) in northern India, returned to Ladakh last week, where he presided over a farewell ceremony for outgoing senior students of Mahabodhi Secondary School at the MIMC’s Devachan Campus on 31 March.
“Providing a high-quality education guided by Buddhist values to these lovely children from marginalized communities in the Indian Himalaya has been a high priority among the many social-outreach services that Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena seeks to provide,” the MIMC shared with BDG. “Having lived for 12 years as members of a beautiful extended family, it was very hard for the students to leave the Devachan family—many of them became quite emotional and tears were shed as the students bid each other and their teachers farewell.”
During the ceremony, the outgoing students shared their experiences from 12 years living and studying at the Mahabodhi Residential School. They expressed gratitude to the school’s founder, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena, for his guidance and care during their time there, and to the school’s teaching and non-teaching staff, the management committee of the Mahabodhi Education Program, all of the center’s numerous charitable sponsors.
“Guruji was delighted to hear the heart-warming experiences shared by the students,” the MIMC shared. “He expressed satisfaction and congratulated the teaching faculty for their dedication and commitment to the students, and to the students themselves for devoting themselves to their studies and for following the principles and teachings of the school.”
As well as serving as the spiritual director of the non-profit Mahabodhi International Meditation Center (MIMC) in Ladakh, in India’s far north, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena is also the founder of the Mahakaruna Foundation, the Save the Himalayas Foundation, and a spiritual advisor to the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB).
Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena founded the Mahabodhi International Meditation Center in Leh, the joint capital of Ladakh, in 1986. He has since become an exemplar of socially engaged Buddhism in the region, launching numerous humanitarian projects, events, and initiatives. His outreach work includes providing educational opportunities and refuge for underprivileged children, empowerment and literacy programs for women and other socially disadvantaged groups, healthcare for the sick and needy, and a care home for the aged and destitute. The MIMC’s expanding campus has evolved into a hub for a multitude of socio-cultural and community programs in the region.
“Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena blessed each of the outgoing students with ceremonial khata scarf and advised each of them to keep and follow the beautiful teachings they have received at Devachan Campus,” the MIMC recounted. “Guruji also assured them of his continued support whenever they might require it.”
In addition to integrating spiritual development and human welfare, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena and the MIMC are also closely involved in peace-building and interfaith dialogue, environmental conservation, and in promoting Buddhist and Himalayan cultural heritage through national and international festivals. Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena has traveled extensively to participate international conferences, seminars, and workshops to promote spiritual and cultural values, environmental awareness, non-violence and world peace, and elevating the status of women in society—especially those from underprivileged communities.
In 2021, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena led a team from the MIMC on a humanitarian relief mission to the border regions of Ladakh, offering material COVID-19 relief as well as much-needed emotional and spiritual counseling for local residents who were living in fear during the dual crises of the pandemic and the military-led border standoff between Indian and Chinese troops. The same team also led a peace campaign in the conflict zone, appealing to the two nations not to resort to violence, but to resolve the standoff through peaceful means.**
Mahabodhi International Meditation Center
Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre – MIMC (Facebook)
Bhikkhu Sanghasena (Facebook)
Save the Himalayas Foundation
International Network of Engaged Buddhists
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