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Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena Leads Week-long Vesak Celebration in Ladakh

Venerable Bhikkhu Sanghasena. All images courtesy of MIMC

The renowned Buddhist leader and socially engaged monk Venerable Bhikkhu Sanghasena, founder and spiritual director of the non-profit Mahabodhi International Meditation Center (MIMC) in Ladakh, in India’s far north, marked Vesak or Buddha Purnima with a week of observances in May in honor of the birth, enlightenment, and mahaparanirvana of the Buddha.

The week-long festival featured a range of spiritual and cultural activities at the MIMC, with visits to local communities, and along with a two-day meditation retreat program and a special symposium titled “Engaged in the Timeless Teachings of the Lord Buddha and the Unprecedented Challenges of the 21st century,” which featured a host of distinguished speakers, including local officials, scholars, artists, and community leaders.

In line with the Buddha’s core teaching on dana; offerings were made to the venerable monks and nuns of Mahabodhi Jetavana Monastery and Mahabodhi Nunnery, in an expression of the community’s generosity and reverence. This act was then extended beyond the monastic community to all living in the MIMC’s Devachan campus, with special meals served to the students of Mahabodhi Higher Secondary School, the students of thr Mahabodhi girls and boys hostels, those in the Mahabodhi Karuna Charitable Hospital, the residents of the Mahabodhi Maitri Geriatric Home, and all workers, volunteers, and residents of the MIMC Devachan campus.

On 23 May, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena visited Timosgang Village, where it was said that the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, manifested at the temple Khar Gompa, which sits at the top of a prominent hill between the villages of Tia and Timosgang, which is also the birthplace of  Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena.

People from across Ladakh attended the festivities there, with thousands gathering to honor this sacred tradition with reverence and devotion. Students from government and non-state schools joined the celebration, singing devotional songs and presenting cultural performances. Addressing participants, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena emphasized the importance of the profound teachings of the Buddha, urging all to use the precious gift of human life for the betterment of themselves and others. 

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.

He is also the founder of the Mahakaruna Foundation, the Save the Himalayas Foundation, and an advisor to the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB).

This year’s Vesak observances also included a two-day residential retreat at the MIMC’s Devachan Campus from 21–22 May. Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena told the retreatants that the gathering represented a sacredrefuge for introspection and spiritual growth, and he urged them to embark on a profound journey of self-discovery. 

The Vesak observances continued with a visit to Taru Gayphel Tsogspa Animal Welfare Society, where Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena donated foods for the animals care for by Taru Gayphel Tsogspa.

“The Lord Buddha’s great compassion for animals stands exemplary in the history of mankind,” Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena remarked in a statement shared with BDG. “Without remembering innocent animals, the weeklong Buddha Jayanti celebration would have remained incomplete. The harmonious interaction with the animals not only provided nourishment but also highlighted the importance of extending compassion to all living beings, a key teaching of the Buddha.”

In addition to integrating spiritual development and human and animal 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.*

* Work, Walk, and Pray for Peace: Bhikkhu Sanghasena Undertakes Peace Pilgrimage in Ladakh (BDG) and Buddhist Monk Bhikkhu Sanghasena Urges Peaceful Resolution amid Sino-Indian Border Tensions (BDG)

See more

Mahabodhi International Meditation Center
Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre – MIMC (Facebook)
Bhikkhu Sanghasena
Bhikkhu Sanghasena (Facebook)
Mahakaruna Foundation
Save the Himalayas Foundation
Umandawa Global Buddhist Village 
International Network of Engaged Buddhists

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