Marking the Dipawali festival of lights in India, the renowned spiritual leader and socially engaged Buddhist monk Venerable Bhikkhu Sanghasena embarked on a two-day tour of Ladakh on 4–5 November, distributing winter supplies to almost 800 vulnerable families.
Over the course of his pilgrimage, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena visited the villages of Gaya, Igoo, Kulum, Lato, Meru, Rong, Rumtse, Sasoma, and Upshi in the northern Indian region, bearing packages of winter essentials such as socks, gloves, woolen hats, blankets, and food staples.
Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena is the spiritual director of the non-profit Mahabodhi International Meditation Center (MIMC) in Ladakh. He 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).*
“These villages require the attention of the government—the healthcare system, education, and other basic infrastructures are substandard,” Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena said in a message shared on social media. “To our surprise, one village doesn’t have even a proper bridge to cross the river, which is a basic necessity for life. The villagers have been crossing with the help of two logs placed over the river as a makeshift bridge, which is very dangerous and risky!”
One of the most popular traditional festivals in India, Dipawali is a celebration of the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. It is observed across the country by Hindus Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists.
Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena pledged to provide oxygen concentrators for the medical centers at Gaya, Igoo, and Upshi. Some especially vulnerable children, including some differently abled, were selected to be admitted to MIMC hostels and school.
The monk also delivered Buddhist discourses at each village, urging the residents to intensify their sadhana spiritual practices and to offer prayers for world peace and an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
The charitable initiative has been sponsored by the Mukul Madhav Foundation for two consecutive years, in partnership with Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre. The MIMC expressed deep appreciation to the Mukul Madhav Foundation and all those who have extended help and cooperation to ensure the success of this charity program.
Perched high on the Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh, which translates as the Land of High Passes, became the largest union territory in India in 2019 after the government reconstituted the former state of Jammu and Kashmir. Spread across some 59,146 mountainous square kilometers, much of which is desiccated and inhospitable, the culture and history of Ladakh is closely interwoven with that of Tibet—so much so that Ladakh is sometimes known as “Little Tibet.”
Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena founded the Mahabodhi International Meditation Center (MIMC) in Leh, the joint capital of Ladakh, in 1986. He has since become an exemplar of socially engaged Buddhism, launching numerous projects, events, and initiatives, among them 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 has evolved into an expanding campus that has become a hub for a multitude of socio-cultural and community programs.
There is more joy in giving, in sharing than accumulating and grabbing.Bhikkhu Sanghasena
* Sacred Offerings of Compassion and Relief: Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena, the Silent Reformer (Buddhistdoor Global)
Mukul Madhav Foundation
Bhikkhu Sanghasena (Facebook)
Mahabodhi International Meditation Center
Save the Himalayas Foundation
International Network of Engaged Buddhists
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