编者按：本文作者世友居士（Dhammachari Lokamitra，原名Mr. Goody Jeremy，1947-）生于英国伦敦，爵士，师从僧护居士（Dhammachari Sangharashita，原名Mr. Dennis Lingwood,1925-），1977年到访印度，从此开始继承印度首任司法部长安倍卡博士的遗志，以“难行能行，难忍能忍，舍己利他”的菩萨道精神，在印度持续帮助达利特（俗称贱民）阶层，领导印度佛教复兴；在龙树菩萨的家乡——印度龙城，创办了印度龙树学院，开展多专业教育、慈善、公益等工作，迄今40余年，成就卓著。（印度贱民阶层系四种姓之外的社会底层，有2.3亿人口，承担着印度最底层的劳动工作。）
Inspiration from Master Nan
On my visits to Taiwan In the early 1990’s I used to stay at the Ten Directions Chan Temple (or Buddhist Centre) when in Taipei. I stayed in a small room at the back of the meditation hall. Every time I went to the room I passed a large photo of Master Nan in meditation posture, on the wall. I realised he must be a very great Master indeed, but never dreamt it would be possible for me to communicate with him personally. I did however get the opportunity to meet him twice towards the end of his life, those meetings adding an indescribable richness to my life which I remember every day with enormous gratitude. Before writing about that, I should give some background to the work I am involved in that brought me to the Taihu Great Learning Centre.
I was born in UK but have lived in India since 1977, living and working amongst the millions of so-called Untouchables (now commonly known as “Dalits”) who have converted to Buddhism. The first conversion of 500,000 people was led by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in 1956. He was born an Untouchable with all the overwhelming disadvantages that that status brought, but through his own intelligence and hard work, became one of the most highly educated Indians of the last century. He brought about many legal and social changes benefitting the Untouchables, becoming the first law minister of independent India, and the chairman of the drafting committee for the new constitution. However at the end of his life he believed that only through Buddhism could India be transformed into an egalitarian society through peaceful means. Although he died just a few weeks after becoming Buddhist, the conversions have continued at an increasingly fast pace, some estimating the number of newly converted Buddhists at over 50 million.
At first these conversions were concentrated in the western state of Maharashtra, where I taught basic Buddhism and helped to develop Buddhist teaching facilities and social projects from 1977. In the last 25 years the conversions have spread to every corner of India, although most are extremely poor and socially deprived. Unfortunately there are very few trained Buddhist teachers in India and there has been very little help forthcoming from the Buddhist world. It was impossible to develop Dharma teaching activities all over India, but we could bring people to us for training. 15 years ago we developed the Nagarjuna Institute, in Nagpur, central India, to train young people in basic Buddhist teachings and meditation practices (the anapana sati and the metta bhavana). We conduct an eight month residential training and also a three year residential BA course in Buddhist Studies as part of Nagpur University. The students also learn about how to combine Dharma practice with social work. Since 2002 almost 1,200 young people from 25 of the 29 Indian States have participated in the residential training programme and make up an all-India network of Dharma practitioners.
The spirit we try and inculcate in the students is beautifully and dramatically symbolised at the centre of the campus by a magnificent 33 foot high brass statue of the Buddha Walking in Fearless (Abhaya) Mudra, and raised on a 20 foot mound. Dharma practice implies transformation not only of oneself but also of the world; the two have to go together. We cannot just keep the Dharma to ourselves; like the Buddha we have to be active in communicating it to others. Since the day it was erected in 2009 it has become an icon of Buddhism in modern India, attracting and inspiring faith in hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. The sculptor, Master Wen Kwei Chan, had visited us in 2005 when he made a great vow to undertake this work. Wen Kwei introduced the project to Master Nan and some of his disciples who helped to make this unique and beautiful image possible.
In November 2008 I went to meet Master Nan to talk about the background of the work and thank him for his help in supporting the Walking Buddha. It was my first visit to China and I was taken straight from Pudong Airport to the Taihu Great Learning Centre on a cold, wet evening. I had visited and stayed in many Buddhist temples in Taiwan and assumed the Taihu Centre would be similar, but I was in for a surprise. I made my presentation but curtailed it prematurely as Master Nan did not seem satisfied. Afterwards, while drinking tea, Master Nan talked at length about social change. He said that the sort of changes required to eradicate untouchability could only be achieved through means of power and money. He went on to talk about the need for economic change to underpin the eradication of untouchability. He said that the sort of Buddhism required was not the soft Buddhism of the past but a strong, powerful Buddhism. He talked about the need for our students to understand karma (in the sense of conditionality) and the importance of Amitabha chanting combined with meditation. He said chanting Namo Amitabha Buddha was not a religious practice, it went beyond religion, meaning salutation to the unlimited light of great wisdom. He emphasised the opportunities that could develop if Buddhists in India learn Chinese, and said he would support the Chinese learning programme for the students of Nagarjuna Institute, eventually hoping that some could study Chinese Buddhist texts in Chinese. In this way he hoped that Indian Buddhists could benefit from the great wealth of the Chinese Buddhist tradition, and that a link would be forged between Indian and Chinese Buddhists. As a result of that quite a few students have now learnt basic Chinese language. It will be some time before we have some real scholars but we are working towards it gradually. The next morning Master Nan saw me before leaving, showering me with encouragement and blessings.
I returned to the Taihu Great Learning Centre in May 2011 to express the enormous gratitude my colleagues and I felt for his contribution to the Walking Buddha. This time to my great relief Master Nan seemed extremely happy with the presentation I made. When he rose to speak he told his disciples present they must help the work in India, he himself promising a very large donation (when I arrived back in India I found we had received much, much more than he had declared – we were able to construct a beautiful building for training with it). He asked questions about the situation in India, obviously extremely knowledgeable. He said the Buddha was the first person to emphasise equality between human beings and also all sentient beings. He talked of Buddhism as the only religion that did not involve a commander, and so establish a system of inequality. He said that in India we should approach the Dharma through the 37 Bodhipakshas, or wings of Enlightenment, as well as the Paramitas. He emphasised that Dalits have a special opportunity to grow through the Dharma due to their experience. Talking at length on the four foundations of mindfulness, he continually brought the point around to equality. He emphasised that we have to present the Dharma according to local conditions, something I very much appreciated. I was deeply moved that such a great man was spending so much energy expounding the Dharma so clearly over dinner for me, and with such penetration.
Something else happened at the time that had an even greater impact on me. In between my presentation and the Dharma talk, Master Nan just looked at me; it hard to articulate my experience, but it was as if through his eyes, he opened the depths of his heart to me. The compassion and love I experienced issuing from him was total and unconditioned – in those few moments he gave me everything I could have asked for. At the same time his eyes looked moist. If indeed there were tears in his eyes, I like to think it was because he was so pleased that Buddhism was returning to India, the land of its birth. I am but an ant in relation to him, and yet with that experience I felt that my life and work had been fully endorsed by him, someone whose consciousness was so much greater than mine. I did not see him again but the inspiration I gain from recalling that communication enriches and enhances my life daily.
Since then I have read what I can of his teachings in English and talked to some of his disciples. From the little glimpse of his great practice, understanding and vision, he seemed a Vimalakirti of the modern world. He thought civilisation was entering into a new era, and that the Buddha’s teachings had the innate capacity to contribute to this significantly. I hope very much that his teachings and his creative spirit go beyond the Chinese speaking work and especially that they come to India and become part of the momentous revival of Buddhism that is taking place here. We hope to be able to contribute to this, starting by organising a seminar at the Nagarjuna Institute, on the significance of Master Nan’s contribution to Buddhism in the modern world.
There is another factor; China and India are the two greatest powers in Asia and their relationship is likely to have an increasing influence on the world, in terms both of material development and of peace. Surely the fact that they are connected through the Buddha-Dharma can be developed to contribute towards world harmony. I am sure this cannot have been far from Master Nan’s mind.
The Nagarjuna Institute and its Significance in the Revival of Buddhism in India.
As Master Nan was very supportive of the work I am involved in, in India, and his inspiration is one of the factors that gives me energy to continue this work, I thought I should say a little more about it.
Situation: As I mentioned above that there could be 50 million Buddhists in India today. Actually the potential is much, much greater. Almost all the Dalit community numbering 230 million is open to the Buddha’s teaching if approached in a way they can relate to. More and more from the Tribal communities, numbering well over 100 million, are becoming interested in Buddhism. Besides them some from the traditional Sudra community - 50% of the Indian population, over 600 million today - are coming to Buddhism. Their numbers are small at present, but growing steadily. Interestingly one of the Sudra castes who have come to Buddhism recently is the Shakya caste from North India; 35 young people from the Shakya caste have studied at the Nagarjuna Institute. They trace their lineage back to the Shakya caste of the Buddha, but were downgraded in a resurgent Hinduism. The point is that the number of Buddhists in India could increase phenomenally over the next 50-100 years. If the Buddha’s teaching is available in a manner people can relate to, we can dare to think of 300 million new Buddhists, if not many more, over the next 50-100 years. The more Buddhism grows, the more it will influence Indian society, culture and politics. It will contribute to the rejuvenation of Buddhism throughout Asia and could play a significant role in the emerging new dimension of civilisation that I understand Master Nan spoke of, just as it did 2,500 years ago. This is the context and vision in which the work of the Nagarjuna Institute takes place.
The students come from some of the most deprived backgrounds in India, and when they arrive at the Nagarjuna Institute they often pessimistic about life. After a few months of Dharma practice most feel transformed, with a new vision of life. They learn how to transform unskilful mental attitudes into skilful ones. They develop the confidence that they can do something with their lives, both for themselves and for society. They feel empowered and they can more effectively help others.
Even the Dalits are divided into hundreds of sub-castes who regard each other with suspicion. When the students arrive at Nagarjuna Institute, they often see each from that perspective. Practicing the Dharma for a few months, all the differences between them fall away and they experience the equality the Dharma brings; the Buddha described this experience beautifully when he said that one cannot tell which river a drop of sea water comes from.
After they leave, many share what they have learnt of the Dharma in their towns and villages. The Nagarjuna Institute has resulted in the Buddha’s teaching once again being heard and recited in hundreds of towns and villages throughout the length and breadth of India, after an absence of over 700 years. And with the Buddha’s teaching, comes the message of empowerment, equality and friendship.
Over 100 students have developed the confidence to pursue post-graduate studies, M. A., M. Phil., M. B. A. and Ph. D., some at very prestigious institutions, and some in Buddhist Studies, and some in Chinese Studies.
Many engage in social projects, finding Buddhist practice empowers them to do so. These include: working with children the most degraded Dalit castes such as human scavengers and those from the rat- eating caste, starting schools, one of which is for disabled children, relief work in natural calamities, running hostels for children who would find it hard to get an education otherwise (Ami you may have to give a note explaining), responding to atrocities committed by Caste Hindus on Dalits, running kindergartens for children in the villages, and conducting awareness programmes in villages to counteract superstition, encourage women's empowerment, and encourage young people to think seriously about Buddhism.
These are examples of young people whose lives have been transformed by the teaching at Nagarjuna Institute.
斯瓦蒂•宝沓（Swati Baudha）来自奥里萨邦（Odisha）嘎啦韩地区（Kalahandi）多姆（Dom）小区，是达利特最低的种姓之一，14岁丧母。她说：“自从来了龙树学院，才意识到我们生活在充满暴力的社会。我也学习到如何回馈社会，同时接触到广大的安贝卡与佛教运动。”完成学业后，斯瓦蒂加入奥里萨邦的羯陵伽之友基金会（Kalingamitra Trust），协办禅修闭关、座谈会、研讨会、提高佛弟子对佛教的认识。斯瓦蒂主修社会学，取得妇女学哲学硕士学位，目前正在孟买塔塔集团社会科学研究所（Tata Institute for Social Sciences）攻读博士学位。
Swati Baudha comes from one of poorest places in India, the Kalahandi district of Orissa, and one of the lowest so-called Untouchable castes. Her mother died when she was 14 years old. She says that ”After coming to the Nagarjuna Institute, I realized that we live in a violent society. I also learned the tools to serve the society. I came in contact with the Buddhist movement”. Afterwards Swati became associated with the Kalingamitra Trust in Orissa, which organizes retreats, workshops, and seminars to create awareness about Buddhism. Swati graduated in Sociology and then completed her M. Phil in Women’s Studies. She is currently preparing to go to UK to study for a Ph.D.
Kamal Bodhi is from Alwar, Rajasthan. He had to drop out from school to financially support his parents. Kamal says, “Before coming to the Nagarjuna Institute, I used to call myself a Buddhist, but was not following the teachings and practices. After coming here, I got transformed and learned Buddhist values such as loving kindness, compassion, mindfulness and generosity”. He has been developing Dharma activities in his state. At present Kamal is learning Chinese at Anshan Normal University, China.
Divya comes from a very poor Dalit family in Tamil Nadu and is the first generation of girls in her community to get an education. She faced discrimination based on her caste and gender since her childhood. In 2009 she came to Nagarjuna Institute and says “I had no goals in my life before coming to Nagarjuna Institute. I got deeply moved with the way people treated me here. The confidence and inspiration I gained is the gift of Nagarjuna Institute”. Divya helps organize Buddhist activities in Tamil Nadu. She has completed a Masters degree in Education and is now helping us develop the teaching at Nagarjuna Institute.
马诺•乔达摩（Manoj Gautam）来自拉贾斯坦邦巴拉特普尔（Bharatpur）雅塔夫种姓。多数雅塔夫以矿工或碎石工为生，对健康有极负面影响。马诺在不得已的情况下辍学，到德里当劳役，其父是安贝卡博士社会运动的成员。来到龙树学院之后，马诺的生活起了大变化。他说：“我本来个性好斗，但当我改变了自己愤怒的习性之后，生活开始有了方向和理想。我也逐渐建立起自信，并学会与人沟通。”马诺借助父亲的支持，设立了阿雅塔拉信托（Aryatara Trust），并且在自己生长的村庄开办了一所小学。他极为关注种姓歧视、嫁妆制度、穿戴面罩习俗、童婚等课题，同时积极举办佛教节庆活动、佛教闭关与传扬佛法。
Manoj Gautam, from Bharatpur, Rajasthan, had to drop out from school and went to Delhi to work as a labourer. After coming to the Nagarjuna Institute, Manoj’s life changed and he says, “I was a quarrelsome person and my life got direction as I transformed my anger to live an ideal life. I also gained self confidence and learned how to communicate." Manoj set up the Aryatara Trust to run Dharma and social activities. He started a primary school in his village and focuses on issues like caste discrimination, the dowry system, the practice of wearing a veil among women, and child marriage. He organizes Buddhist festivals, and Dharma retreats to spread Buddhism.
There are many, many other students like them, and over the next few years there will be many more. Each one of them is like a stone dropped into a pool, the ripples they create spreading far and wide. We want to do as much as we can to empower young people like these to bring Buddhism back to India and help the most socially deprived members of society.
The Nagarjuna Institute:
We want to increase the number of residential students at from 120 to 300 as soon as possible, requiring new residential and classroom facilities (see website for more information).
Encouraged by Master Nan, we are experimenting with making Chinese studies an optional subject as part of the BA degree in Buddhist Studies at the Nagarjuna Institute, from the coming academic year starting in July 2018. During this period students will study for the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (Chinese Proficiency Tests) and afterwards those who want to pursue their studies further will be encouraged to stay with educational and Buddhist institutions in China and Taiwan who are in contact with the Nagarjuna Institute.
The Nagaloka Alumni Association:
this has been started to coordinate, support and guide the alumni through national and regional Dharma retreats, and conferences. In five years time there could be 2,000 alumni making a sangha or all-India network of Dharma practitioners. Coming together enables them to re-experience and strength the transcendent (over caste and region) nature of the alumni community, and its vision of a new India influenced by the Dharma.
Ashoka Dharmaduta Project:
Inspired by the Walking Buddha, we are training our alumni to teach the Dharma in villages and towns throughout India in a systematic and structured way. In this way we hope to establish confident communities of Dharma practitioners in hundreds of villages and towns over the next few years. We give further training in social work so that they can respond more effectively to the terrible social problems people face in the places where they teach the Dharma. We are also helping them establish businesses, not only to support themselves, but also their local Dharma work. The scope for the Nagarjuna Institute to help revive Buddhism in India, is enormous, and just depends on the resources available.
We welcome Master Nan’s disciples to visit us in India and see for themselves the unique Walking Buddha he helped to make possible, which inspires our students to practice and spread the Dharma. We hope they will see for themselves something of the work of the revival of Buddhism in India, which he was so supportive of.
For more information see website.（http://www.nagaloka.org/）Thanks！