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Wednesday, 29 December 2021

शादी में

शादी का कार्ड आया है तो तैयारी तो करनी ही पड़ेगी. वैसे भी हमारे गोयल साब को दो साल हो गए बैंक से रिटायर हुए मगर दावत खाने का मौका ही नहीं मिल रहा था. यार दोस्त सब भूल भाल गए कमबख्त बुलाते ही नहीं. और फिर कोरोना ने भी घरबंदी कर रखी थी. ना कहीं आना ना जाना महफ़िलें बंद हो गईं थीं. पर अब जरा माहौल बदला है तो शादी का मज़ा लिया जा सकता है. 

सूट निकाला, लाल टाई निकाली और प्रेस के लिए दे दी. बड़ी मेहनत से दाढ़ी बनाई, टकले सिर पर चार छे बाल खड़े रहते थे या उन के नीचे जो बालों की एक अर्धचंद्राकार झालर बची हुई थी, उस को सलून में जा कर रंगवाया तब बनी बात. अब रह गई परफ्यूम वो भी खरीद ली. बस हो गई तैयारी ? अरे नहीं जूते भी तो पोलिश कराने थे ? चलो खुद ही पोलिश कर लूंगा यार. सात साल पहले लिए थे पेटेंट लेदर के. अब भी चमचम कर रहे हैं वो बात और है की दो साल से बन्द पड़े हैं पहनने का मौका ही नहीं मिला. तैयारी से संतुष्ट हो कर श्रीमति जी से बोले,

- भई मेरी तैयारी तो हो गई है आई एम रेडी !

- पता है पता है. वहां जाकर प्याऊ में घुस जाओगे. पर हिसाब से ही पीना. वापसी में गाड़ी भी चलानी है. हाँ ?

- पता है पता है आई नो.

दोनों गाड़ी में बैठे और चल दिए. गाड़ी पार्किंग में लगा कर, गीली घास का लॉन पार किया और पंडाल में पहुँच कर श्रीमति को धीरे से बोले,

- यार ये तो गजब हो गया, एक बूट की एड़ी ही निकल गई ! 

- ओहो तुम भी ना पुराने जूते पहन आए. कोरोना खा गया होगा हील को. अब इस वक़्त कुछ भी नहीं हो सकता इस जूते का. अब चला लो जैसे चलता है. 

- अरे यार मेरी तो चाल ही बदल गई दूसरी एड़ी भी निकाल दूँ क्या ? 

- ओहो छोड़ो भी अब. जैसा है वैसा रहने दो.

सबको नमस्ते दुआ सलाम हो गई पर ध्यान दाहिने जूते की एड़ी में ही रहा. होस्ट से मिल-मिला कर दाएं बाएं नज़र डाली किधर है प्याऊ? हूँ वो रहा कोने में. इतने ही में श्रीमति की सहेली आ गई. आते ही - कैसे हो? ऐसे हो ? वैसे हो? शुरू हो गई. इस बीच मौका पाते ही गोयल साब धीरे से खिसक लिए प्याऊ की तरफ. बढ़िया इंतज़ाम है गुरु ! फिश भी है और चिकन टिक्का भी. पहला पेग लिया, फिश फ्राई का मज़ा लिया और उसके बाद दोस्त यारों से मिले. अब गोयल साब का ध्यान जूते की एड़ी से हट चुका था. दूसरा पेग ले कर दारु पर चर्चा शुरू हो गई. डी जे की ऊँची आवाज़ के बावजूद चुटकुले, मौसम, राजनीती, चुनाव वगैरह सब कुछ डिसकस हो गए. दो मिनट का ब्रेक ले कर श्रीमति को हेलो करने चले गए ताकि शांति बनी रहे. करना पड़ता है जी. श्रीमति  की सहेली का भी हालचाल पूछ लिया. लिफाफा भी थमा दिया. धीरे से फिर खिसक लिए बार की तरफ. सिंह साब ने आवाज़ लगाईं,

- अरे कहाँ गायब हो गए थे गोयल ? कमाल है !

- यार एक तो वो लिफाफा देना था और दूसरे श्रीमति की सहेली भी आई हुई है ना उसे भी तो हेलो करनी थी !

- हो हो हो सुधर जा गोयल ! 

इस हो हो हा हा के बीच दो पेग और मार लिए. यार इतने दिनों बाद दावत में आए हैं तो चलता है ना. कोई दिक्कत नहीं गोयल सा मजे ले लो ! इस बीच ध्यान आया कि श्रीमति इंतज़ार में होगी तो अब चला जाए खाने की तरफ. श्रीमति के साथ लाइन में लग गए और उनकी सेवा भी करते रहे. खुद तो चिकन टिक्का और फिश फ्राई का तबियत से भोग लगा चुके थे इसलिए बस दो चम्मच चावल और दाल ले कर किनारे हो गए. अगर इतना भी नहीं लिया तो डांट पड़नी थी. खाना खा कर और कॉफी पी कर सबसे बाय बाय कर दी. तब तक थोड़ा थोड़ा सुरूर आने लग गया था. पार्किंग की तरफ बढ़े तो गोयल सा जोर से हंसने लगे,

- यार मेरी चाल नहीं नोट की तुमने ? हाहाहा एक जूते की एड़ी गायब है हाहाहा !

- पता है पता है ! चलो अब.

गुनगुनाते हुए और मस्ती में गोयल सा ने गाड़ी स्टार्ट की और फटाक से रिवर्स गियर लगाया. तेजी से स्टीयरिंग घुमाते हुए कार बैक की. पीछे से धम्म की आवाज़ आई. श्रीमती चौंकी - संभाल के ! क्या कर रहे हो ? उतर कर पीछे देखो. 

गोयल साब ने उतर कर देख दो गमले ढेर हो गए हैं. आकर बैठ गए और बोले - अरे यार गमले गिर गए कोई ऐसी बात नहीं. फ़िकरनॉट होता रहता है ये तो, और तेज़ी से गाड़ी गेट की तरफ भगा दी. 

कार के पीछे पीछे गार्ड दौड़ता आ रहा था - हेलो रोको रोको ! पर गोयल सा को आगे देखना जरूरी था या पीछे ?

शादी में 


Saturday, 11 December 2021

Buddhism in Modern India

Buddhism originated in India in 5th century BCE with teachings of Gautam Buddha. Gautam Buddha himself spread the teachings in northern India for about 45 years. Spread of Buddhism reached its peak in the reign of Emperor Ashoka during third century BCE. A few decades afterwards slow decline of Buddhism began and by the end of 12th century Buddhism was restricted to a few pockets in India although it had spread rapidly in Myanmar, Thailand, China, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam etc.

Numbers

According to 1971 census, the total population of Buddhists in India was little over 38 lakhs or 0.70% of population of India at that time. For 2021 it is estimated to be one crore. Presently 90% of Indian Buddhists follow Theravada tradition rest follow Mahayana traditions. A small number of Vajrayana followers are also there. Large number of the Buddhist followers are spread in Himalayan states like Ladakh, Himachal, Sikkim and Arunachal. Followers of Dr. Ambedkar form a prominent Buddhist group in Maharashtra.

Westerns’ interest

Interest of western scholars in art, religions and culture of India started with establishment of Asiatic Society in 1784 in Kolkata. Later Pali Text Society was founded in 1881 by Thomas William Rhys Davies ‘to foster and promote the study of Pali Texts’. Large number of Pali and Sanskrit Buddhist texts were published during 19th and 20th centuries which revived the interest of many westerners and even educated Indians towards Buddhism.

Archaeological discoveries

Archaeological discoveries in Sanchi, Sarnath, Bodhgaya, Nalanda University, Jagdalla Mahavihara etc also revived interest in Buddhism. Credit for this goes to Sir Alexander Cunningham and his team which made numerous discoveries of sites relating to Gautam Buddha during 1880 and onwards. Restoration of Mahabodhi Mahavihara started in 1880.

Many individuals have helped in spreading the message of Buddha in various ways like opening of Buddhist education schools, teaching Buddhism, publishing journals, reviving monuments in India. Their contributions have helped in spreading awareness and teachings of Buddha. Some of these names are discussed below.

Anagarika Dharampala ( 1864-1933 ) 

Real Buddhist revival in India practically took shape under Anagarika Dharmapala. He was born on 17 September 1864 in Matara, Sri Lanka in a Christian family. He turned to Buddhism at an early age. He was the first global Buddhist missionary and a pioneer in the revival of Buddhism in India after it had been virtually extinct there for several centuries, and he was the first Buddhist in modern times to preach the Dharma in Asia, North America, and Europe.

In 1875 Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and Helena Blavatsky established the Theosophical Society in New York City. In 1880 they arrived in Sri Lanka and publicly took the refuges and the precepts and became Buddhists. Colonel Olcott devoted himself to the cause of Buddhist education, eventually setting up more than 300 Buddhist schools, some of which are still running.

In 1885, Sir Edwin Arnold, author of “The Light of Asia” published a few articles in the “Telegraph” of London drawing the attention of the Buddhists to the deplorable condition of the Bodh Gaya Temples and its surroundings. This moved Dharampala to tears.

During this period that Anagarika Dharmapala got associated with Col Olcott and Helena Blavatsky and became a full time Buddhist worker. He came on pilgrimage to India in 1891 and was shocked by what he saw in Bodhgaya. He decided to stay and founded Mahabodhi Society of India and started Mahabodhi Journal in 1892 which is still functioning. He took legal action against occupation of Mahabodhi temple and after protracted legal battle management of temple was transferred to a committee in 1949 although after his death in 1933. Through his untiring efforts he was able to reclaim Buddhist shrines. He established Mulgandhakuti Vihara at Sarnath which was opened in November 1931 and has become a major attraction now for Buddhist travelers.

He participated in World Parliament of Religion in Chicago; USA held in 1893. He advocated for Buddhism with great emphasis that the world needs Buddha’s teachings for peace. While returning via Hawaii he met Mary Foster who was having emotional problems. Dharampala helped her regain normalcy using Buddhist techniques. In turn she donated $2.7million.

In 1914 Anagarika Dharmapala purchased a plot of land at College Square and at this plot the foundation stone of the Sri Dharmarajika Vihara was laid on the 16th December, 1918.

He died in 1933 and his memorial statue stands near Mahabodhi Society Kolkata. In 2014 India and Sri Lanka issued postage stamps to mark 150th birth anniversary Anagarika Dharmapala. Most of the Dharmapala's works are collected in Return to Righteousness: A Collection of Speeches, Essays, and Letters of the Anagarika Dharmapala.

Maha Bodhi Society

The Maha Bodhi Society based in Kolkata, India was founded by the Sri Lankan Buddhist leader Anagarika Dharmapala and its first office was in Bodh Gaya. The organization's efforts were directed to resuscitate Buddhism in India, and to restore the ancient Buddhist shrines at Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinara. The Society renewed interest in Buddhism, and spawned the Ladakh Buddhist Association, All Assam Buddhist Association, and Himalayan Buddhist Society, as well as laying the grounds for the Dalit Buddhist movement.

The office-bearers of this newly born society were Ven. H. Sumangala Nayake Maha Thero as President, Col. H. S. Olcott as Director and Chief Adviser and Dharmapala as General Secretary.

With the object of drawing attention of the Buddhist world to the state of affairs at Bodh Gaya the Society convened an International Buddhist conference at Bodh Gaya in October, 1891. Kolkata office was opened in 1892.

The outstanding achievement of the Society and the last glorious monumental work of Anagarika Dharmapala was the completion of the Mulagandhakuti Vihara at Sarnath, where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after his Enlightenment. The good work started by Anagarika Dharampala continues to be done by the Maha Bodhi Society.

Ven. Karmojogi Kripasaran Mahasthavir

Mahasthavir hailed from Chittagong, Bangladesh and after his ordination in 1886 in Buddhist Sangha Karmojogi Kripasaran came to Kolkota and founded Bouddha Dharmankur Sabha in 1892. He also started Jagajjyoti Journal which is still carrying the message of Buddha throughout India. Later he spent most of his time in establishing schools and Viharas for Buddhist learning. His contribution in revival of Buddhism specially in Bengal is remarkable. 

Ven. Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan (1905-1988)

Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan was a Buddhist monk, prolific writer and a traveller. He is considered to be a great activist of Buddhism. Born in Ambala in 1905, he graduated from National College Lahore. He was greatly influenced by Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

He is one of the pioneers of travel literature in Hindi. He wrote in simple Hindi which is evident from titles of the books e.g., ‘Kahan kya dekha’, ‘Desh ki mitti bulati hai’. He worked for Hindi Sahitya Sammelan and Rashtra Bhasha Prachar Samiti also. He wrote 20 books and also translated Dr Ambedkar’s book ‘Buddha & His Dhamma’ in Hindi and Punjabi.

Along with his mentor Rahul Sankrityayan he participated in Quit India movement against the British.

Ven. Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan (1893-1963)

Born as Kedar Nath Pandey in 1893 in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh Rahul Sankrityayan was a Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller and freedom fighter though he received no formal education. He ran away from home at the age of nine and somehow reached Buddhist Vihara, where he learnt Sanskrit and Pali. Later he learnt many other languages namely Sinhalese, English, Persian and even Russian. Being a great scholar, he is popularly known as Mahapandit

Initially he followed Arya Samaj but later he got ordained in Sri Lanka in Buddhism. Many years later he got interested in Marxism and rejected rebirth and afterlife theories. He wrote a book on world philosophy Darshan-Digdarshan which is in use as reference book for scholars even now.

Rahul Sanskrtyayn visited Tibet three times in clandestine manner, stayed there for over a year and brought hundreds of manuscripts in Pali and Sanskrit along with Thanka paintings. Most of these belonged to Vikramshila and Nalanda Universities. They are available at present in Patna Museum.

His journeys included such countries as Nepal, Iran, China and Soviet Union besides Sri Lanka and Tibet. He wrote many travelogues in Hindi about these places like – ‘Meri Europe Yatra’, ‘Tibet men Sava Saal’, ‘Kinner Desh me’ etc. His books depicted culture, social ethos, folklores and histories of the places he visited.

He participated in freedom movement of India against the British for which he was jailed many a times. He utilised the time in jail for writing books. He wrote more than 100 books. He translated Majjhim Nikaya from Pali to Hindi. His book ‘Volga se Ganga’ has been translated in many languages and was very popular.

For his books he was awarded by many literary organisations. Government of India recognised his work and awarded him Padma Bhushan in 1963. His final resting place is Darjeeling, West Bengal India.

Ven. Dharmanand Kosambi (1876-1947)      

Dharmanand Damodar Kosambi was born in an orthodox family in Goa. He was keen to have knowledge about Buddhism and for this he attempted to leave home many times. He was married at the age of 16. After birth of his first daughter, he did leave home for a period of four years. He went to all places in India, Sikkim and Nepal connected with Buddhism. At Varanasi he learnt Sanskrit and in Sri Lanka to learn Pali for three years. He was ordained there. He went to Myanmar also and studied for couple of years there.

He mastered Pali Suttas and was employed as reader in Kolkata University, he later became a research scholar in Baroda and then moved to Ferguson College, Pune. He was invited by Dr James Woods to Harvard in connection with translation of Visudhimagga. He learnt Russian there and moved to Leningrad University for teaching Pali. During the freedom struggle in India, he participated in Salt Satyagrah and was jailed for six years. Besides Buddhism he also studied Jainism. In the last stage of his life, he decided to stop taking food as per custom in Jainism called Sallekhana. Gandhi ji asked him not to do so and to come over to Sevagram, Wardha. He came but took very restricted food. He eventually died after 30 days of fasting in June 1947.

He authored ‘Bhagwan Buddha’ in Marathi in 1940 which proved to be very popular. The book was later translated in many Indian languages by Sahitya Academy. Kosambi wrote eleven books on Buddhism and Jainism. He also wrote a play in Marathi titled ‘Bodhisatva’. He was well versed in many languages but preferred Marathi for writing his books. His autobiography was published in a Goa periodical ‘Bharat’ during 1912-1916.

Kosambi blended ethics of Buddhism with ideals of socialism and of Mahatma Gandhi and worked for them.

 Ven. Bhikhu Jagdish Kashyap (1908-1976)

Bhikhu Jagdish Kashyap was born in Ranchi, Bihar as Jagdish Narain. ‘Kashyap’ was added to his name at the time of ordination in 1933. He graduated from Patna College and obtained MA degrees in Sanskrit and Philosophy. Thereafter he proceeded to Sri Lanka to study Pali where he was ordained as Bhikhu in Sangha. He translated Digha Nikaya in Hindi there.

He spent sometime in Malaysia where he lived in Chinese Vihara and published a collection of lectures. In 1937 he settled in Sarnath where he came in contact with Maha Bodhi Society.

He became a headmaster of school run by the Society. In Sarnath he also taught Pali in Banaras Hindu University (BHU) despite distance of 22 miles in between the two places. During this period, he met and taught a British spiritual teacher Dennis Longwood (1925-2018) who was subsequently ordained Sangharakshita. Sangharakshita wrote many books on Buddhism and started Western Buddhist Order in 1968.

While teaching Pali in BHU he faced many problems. Lack of students, non-cooperation from BHU authorities, no provision of residential quarters and therefore thought of resigning. In 1948, he went back to his place. Villagers were surprised to see yellow robed monk talking in their language Magadhi. He explained about the language and its historical connection to Buddhism.

His project of translation of Pali scriptures in Hindi was accepted as inaugural work of Nav Nalanda Mahavihara. Over a period of five years Pali canon was published in Hindi in instalments. In 1959 he became first professor of Pali in Sanskrit University Varanasi. He became director again in 1965 of Mahavihara  and retired in 1973.   

Dalai Lama

His Holiness Dalai Lama was born on 6th July 1935 to a farming family in Amdo, Tibet. At the age of two he was recognised as reincarnation of 13th Dalai Lama. His alternative names are Tenzin Gyatso or Dainzin Gyaco. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion and patron saint of Tibet.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama began his monastic education at the age of six. The curriculum derived from the Nalanda tradition and consisted of subjects like logic, arts, Sanskrit, grammar and Buddhist philosophy. Other minor subjects included drama. Astrology also. His Holiness was later awarded the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.

The 14th Dalai Lama was formally enthroned in 1950 during the battle with China. In 1959 the Dalai Lama government was pressured to declare incorporation in China. Thereafter the Dalai Lama fled to India. Since then, Dalai Lama is settled in Dharamshala, India and running a government in exile.

Present Dalai Lama democratised the formation of government on the basis of one-person one-vote. The Tibetan Cabinet was earlier handpicked by Dalai Lama but this was also changed. Since 2011 he has relinquished his political power and remains spiritual head only.

14th Dalai Lama is a popular figure all over the world. The Noble Prize winner Dalai Lama has said that he preferred the concept of republic where ethnic minorities can live in harmony. He has travelled a lot and received hundreds of awards, honorary degrees and prizes in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious harmony and compassion. He has written or co-authored over 100 books. His presence in India has had positive effect on spread of Buddhism. He is continuously using social media to send message of compassion. He actively holds seminars, webinars and social media interactions.

Dr B. R. Ambedkar (1891-1956)

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, economist and a social reformer who fought against economic and social discrimination against Dalits. Dr Ambedkar was a prolific student, earning doctorates in economics from Columbia University and London School of Economics. In his early carrier he was an economist, professor and lawyer. In his later life he became a political activist and involved in India’s freedom struggle, framing of constitution of free India, publishing journals and advocating rights of Dalits. In 1956 he converted to Buddhism, initiating mass conversions of Dalits. In 1990 he was awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously.

Dr Ambedkar, around 1950, began devoting attention to Buddhism. He went to Sri Lanka to attend World Fellowship of Buddhists. He dedicated A new Buddhist Vihara near Pune to the public and announced that he was writing a book and when that is finished, he would formally convert to Buddhism. He visited Myanmar in 1954 and again in 1955 to attend third conference of World Fellowship of Buddhists. In 1955 he founded Bhartiya Bauddh Mahasabha. In 1956 he completed his book ‘Buddha & His Dhamma’ which was published posthumously.

After meeting Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Saddhatissa he organised a formal ceremony for himself and his supporters in Nagpur on 14 October 1956. After accepting three refuges and five precepts from a Buddhist monk in traditional manner Ambedkar completed his own conversion along with his wife. He then proceeded to convert his 500000 followers. He prescribed 22 vows for these converts after the Three Jewels and Five Precepts. He then proceeded to Kathmandu to attend fourth World Buddhist Conference. He thus provided a big boost to revival of Buddhism in India.

Vipassana Movement

This movement started in Myanamar as modern interpretation of Thervada Buddhism. This ‘Vipassana’ promotes insight to attain stream entry and to preserve Buddhist teachings. Based on commentaries Ledi Sayadaw popularised Vipassana meditation for lay people. In 20th century in Theravada countries Mahasi Sayadaw introduced new Burmese sattipatthana method. It also gained huge following in west. It was broadly based on Theravada Abhidhamma, the Vissudhimagga and personal experiences. This has also spread to India due to Vipassana Centres started by Shri Satya Narain Goenka. 

Ven. S. N. Goenka (1924-2013)

Shri Goenka was born in Myanmar to a wealthy business family of Indian origin. He was taught by Sayagyi U Ban Khin in the Ledi- lineage. He started the Vipassana 10 days courses in various centres in India and abroad attracting large number of lay people. According to him Vipassana techniques are non-sectarian and have universal appeal across countries, religions and gender. One need not convert to Buddhism to practice vipassana meditation. These Centres have popularised Vipassana and Buddhist teachings. Besides practical trainings, lots of books and videos are being made available to the lay people.

 

Namo Buddhae