The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), in coordination with the Zhung Dratshang, the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan, is hosting a delegation of 24 senior monks from Bhutan, who were welcomed on their arrival in Kolkata yesterday. The monastic delegates are scheduled to stay in India until 30 November.
“The Bhutanese delegation, hosted by IBC, is scheduled to visit various religious and Buddhist heritage sites in India, including Nagarjunakonda, Buddhavanam, Amravati, the National Museum, [and] Sankissa, among others,” IBC said in an announcement shared over social media. “The Buddhist sangha of Bhutan and IBC [are] collaborating to strengthen . . . spiritual and cultural bonds, as well as [to] further enhance people-to-people relations between India and Bhutan. The Bhutanese delegation visiting India in coordination with IBC mainly includes prominent monks from Central Monastic Body in Thimphu and some senior monks from varied monasteries in Bhutan.”
The IBC is a Buddhist umbrella body that serves as a platform and organization to unite Buddhists around the world. Headquartered in New Delhi, it was established in 2012 with the aim of uniting Buddhist organizations and preserving the tangible and intangible heritage of Buddhism. The confederation also works to lend a united voice to all Buddhist organizations to address and engage with issues of common global concern.
The Bhutanese monks, led by IBC deputy secretary-general Venerable Jang Chup Choden and Ven. Ugen Namgyal, the secretary of the Zhung Dratshang, represent the heads of the monastic sangha for each of Bhutan’s 20 districts.
Buddhism is not only the state religion of the Kingdom of Bhutan but also a way of life: “We try to live in the footsteps of the Buddha. . . . For us, Buddhism is a way of life. Even our arts and architecture reflect our religious traditions,” said Ven. Ugen Namgyal. (Press Trust of India)
The Zhung Dratshang was established in 1620 by His Holiness Zhabdrung Rinpoche Ngawang Tenzin Namgyel, considered the father of the nation. The body was instrumental in the unification of Bhutan, the codification of legislation, and the development of the dual system of governance. Under the national constitution, the Zhung Dratshang is an autonomous institution financed by an annual grant from the royal government.
“We have two giant neighbors on two sides, but with India, we have a wonderful relationship,” said Ven. Ugen Namgyal. “Buddhism came from this country. Bengal, our immediate neighbor, has strong linkages with us and has contributed to Buddhism in our Kingdom.” (The New Indian Express)
Most Bhutanese—almost 85 per cent of a population of some 780,000 people—are Buddhists. The majority of the remaining 15 per cent, mainly people of the Lhotshampa ethnic group of Nepalese descent, practice Hinduism. Most of Bhutan’s Buddhists follow either the Drukpa Kagyu or the Nyingma schools of Vajrayana Buddhism.
Sandwiched between economic heavy-hitters China and India on the edge of the mighty Himalayan mountain range, the tiny Buddhist Kingdom is perhaps best known for prioritizing “Gross National Happiness” over the shortsighted acquisitiveness of unrestrained economic growth, and for its sustainable approach to environmental stewardship. The kingdom is also unique in being the world’s last remaining Vajrayana Buddhism nation.
Bhutan’s culture, traditions, customs, history, and landscape all bear testament to the influence of Buddhism. The spiritual tradition is embedded in the very consciousness and culture of this remote land, where it has flourished with an unbroken history that dates back to its introduction from Tibet in the eighth century by the Indian Buddhist master Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche.
International Buddhist Confederation
International Buddhist Confederation (Facebook)
‘Footsteps of Buddha’: 24 high-ranking monks from Bhutan on trip to India (Press Trust of India)
Footsteps of the Buddha: Monks from Bhutan on trip to India (The Hindu)
‘Footsteps of Buddha’: Monks from Bhutan on trip to India (Deccan Herald)
Footsteps of the Buddha: Monks from Bhutan on eight-day long trip to India (The New Indian Express)
Buddhist confederation, monastic body hosting delegation of Bhutanese monks from Nov 22 to 30 (ANI)
‘Footsteps Of Buddha’: Monks From Bhutan On A Trip To India (Outlook India)
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