After a series of meetings and events across India and Asia since December last year to promote the Mahakaruna Diwas 2023 celebration for global compassion – an initiative to avert further global disasters through compassion in action* – spiritual leader and socially engaged Buddhist monk Venerable Bhikkhu Sanghasena, spiritual director of the International Mahabodhi Meditation Center (MIMC) in northern India, returned to Ladakh last week, where he presided over a ceremony of farewell for outgoing students of Mahabodhi Secondary School at MIMC's Devachan Campus on March 31.
“Providing a high quality education guided by Buddhist values to these lovely children from marginalized communities in the Indian Himalayas has been a priority among the many social services that Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena seeks to provide,” the MIMC shared with BDG. “Having lived for 12 years as members of a beautiful extended family, it was very difficult for the students to leave the Devachan family – many of them became quite emotional and tears were spilled as the students said to each other goodbye and bid farewell to their teachers. »
During the ceremony, the outgoing students shared their experiences of 12 years of living and studying at the Mahabodhi boarding school. They expressed their gratitude to the founder of the school, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena, for his guidance and care during their stay there, as well as to the teaching and non-teaching staff of the school, to the management committee of the Mahabodhi education program, to all of the many charitable sponsors of the centre.
“Guruji was delighted to hear the heartwarming experiences shared by the students,” MIMC said. “He expressed his appreciation and praised the faculty for their dedication and commitment to the students, and the students themselves for devoting themselves to their studies and following the principles and teachings of the school. »
Besides being the spiritual director of the non-profit Mahabodhi International Meditation Center (MIMC) in Ladakh, in the far north of India, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena 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).
Fri. Bhikkhu Sanghasena founded the International Mahabodhi Meditation Center in Leh, the joint capital of Ladakh, in 1986. He has since become an example of socially engaged Buddhism in the region, launching numerous humanitarian projects, events and initiatives. Its outreach work includes educational opportunities and shelter for underprivileged children, empowerment and literacy programs for women and other socially disadvantaged groups, health care for the sick and needy, and a home pensions for the elderly and the poor. MIMC's expanding campus has become a hub for a multitude of socio-cultural and community programs in the region.
" Fri. Bhikkhu Sanghasena blessed each of the outgoing students with a ceremony khata headscarf and advised each of them to keep and follow the beautiful teachings they received at the Devachan campus,” MIMC recounted. “Guruji also assured them of his continued support whenever they needed it. »
In addition to integrating spiritual development and human well-being, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena and the MIMC are also closely involved in peacebuilding and interreligious dialogue, environmental conservation, and the promotion of Buddhist and Himalayan cultural heritage through national and international festivals. Fri. Bhikkhu Sanghasena has traveled extensively to participate in international conferences, seminars and workshops aimed at promoting spiritual and cultural values, environmental awareness, non-violence and world peace, and raising the status of women in society , especially those from disadvantaged communities.
In 2021, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena led an MIMC team on a humanitarian relief mission in the border areas of Ladakh, providing material aid against COVID-19 as well as much-needed emotional and spiritual guidance to local residents who lived in fear during the double crisis of the pandemic and the military border clash between Indian and Chinese troops. The same team also led a peace campaign in the conflict zone, calling on both nations not to resort to violence, but to resolve the impasse through peaceful means.**
* Committed Buddhism: Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena announces Mahakaruna Diwas 2023 celebration for global compassion (BDG)
** Work, Walk and Pray for Peace: Bhikkhu Sanghasena embarks on peace pilgrimage to Ladakh (BDG) and Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Sanghasena calls for peaceful resolution amid Sino-Indian border tensions (BDG)