The renowned Indian Buddhist monk Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhipala, secretary-general of the Kolkata-based Bengal Buddhist Association (BBA; also known as the Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha), died on Monday morning while undergoing treatment for COVID-19. He was 52 years old.
In a social media announcement for the revered monk, the BBA expressed deep sorrow over his death: “This was a great loss not only for the Bengal Buddhist Association, but for the world of Buddhism and humanity.” (Dharmankur Sabha Facebook)
Following Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhipala’s passing at AMRI Hospital in Mukundapur, Kolkata, on 27 July, the Supreme Sangha Councils of India and Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Buddhist Federation, the Mahabodhi Society of India, and many other organizations and eminent personalities shared messages of tribute to Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhipala and offered wishes for his attainment of the supreme bliss of nibbana.
“I wish to express our deepest sympathies on the passing away of Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhipala, who was an eminent Buddhist leader who worked tirelessly for the uplift of the Buddhasasana,” said the secretary-general of the International Buddhist Confederation, Ven. Dr. Dhammapiya, in a message of condolence. “With his passing, the entire Buddhist world has lost a great Dhamma leader who was able to guide people on the Dhamma Path.” (Dharmankur Sabha Facebook)
Despite the COVID–19 pandemic, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhipala continued to visit Buddhist monasteries and remote areas of India, working on behalf of underprivileged communities and distributing relief supplies. He also provided assistance to hundreds of vulnerable Muslim families in Bangladesh.
“He was not only revered by everyone in Buddhist society, he was also appreciated by people of all classes and professions irrespective of religion, caste, and community. The death of a Buddhist monk like him is an irreparable loss for us. His invaluable contribution as the secretary-general of the Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha will be remembered and appreciated” said the president of the Bangladesh Bauddha Kristi Prachar Sangha, Ven. Buddhapriya Mahathera. (Dharmankur Sabha Facebook)
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhipala was born in 1968 in Shillong, capital of the Indian state of Meghalaya. His forebears originated from Unainpura Village in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and migrated to India before the partition in 1947. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhipala was a descendant of Ven. Kripasaran Mahastavir (1865–1927), a Buddhist monk, founder of the BBA, and a key figure in the movement to revive Buddhism on the Indian subcontinent.
After completing his studies in Shillong, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhipala became a monk in 1993, under the preceptorship of Dhammapala Mahathera. In 1995, he was appointed assistant-secretary and trustee of the International Brotherhood Mission (IBM), Dibrugarh, Assam. He then moved to Bodh Gaya, where he earned a master’s degree from Magadh University. In 2001, he was placed in charge of the monks of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, where he served until 2006. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhipala subsequently moved to the IBM for a period, before settling at the BBA. In 2018, he was elected as secretary-general of the BBA, a post he held until his death.
“We shall always remember with fond memories our association with the late Bhanteji [Bhikkhu Bodhipala], since 2001, the days when he was the monk in charge of the Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya,” said Bhikkhu Chalinda, chief monk of the Mahabodhi Temple, and Nangzey Dorjee, secretary of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, in a condolence message. “It is indeed a great loss for the entire Buddhist world in the passing away of Bhanteji.” (Dharmankur Sabha Facebook)
Dharmankur Sabha (Facebook)
Covid19 exterminated a Buddhist stalwart of India: A tearful adieu to Dr. Bodhipala Bhikkhu (Northeast Now)