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Grassroots Buddhism Flourishes in the Outskirts of Bangkok – IDN InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

Posted: December 14, 2019 at 10:44 pm

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By Kalinga Seneviratne

This article is the 37th in a series of joint productions of Lotus News Features and IDN-InDepthNews, flagship of the International Press Syndicate. Click here for previous articles.

BANGKOK (IDN) On a Saturday morning a couple drives into the Santi Asoke community in the north-eastern outskirts of Bangkok, and walks into a large warehouse stacked with clothes, shoes, books, electrical goods, mobile phones, washing machines, furniture and other household items. The couple inspects a stack of clothes scattered on a mat, picks some up and puts it in a basket. It is then taken to a volunteer cashier, who weighs it and quotes a price.

This is a type of a Buddhist supermarket where almost all goods for sale are second hand, donated by the devotees and sold here to raise money for Santi Asoke TV station. They make about Bhat 800,000 to 600,000 (USD 19,000-26,000) a month.

People donate whatever they dont need. We have no set price. They will come and collect the pieces they want to buy, like in wholesale, and we quote a price, explained community leader Samdin Lersbusway, while taking Lotus News on a tour of the community.

> Secondhand clothes being sold at a Buddhist supermarket in Santi Asoke community in the north-eastern outskirts of Bangkok. Credit: Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-INPS.

The shop sells everything from clothes to air conditioners. Things that cannot be sold directly, we repair and sell. We also recycle paper, plastics and sell to recyclers, he added. Anyone can donate stuff to us. Sometimes we get new goods from the rich.

Taking a lift to the third storey of a multistorey block we visit the modest facilities of Santi Asoke TV station where only their Liaison Officer Thongkaeo and her cameraman a student was present. They dont have a station manager or a program manager, but they broadcast 24-hours a day on satellite and when the need arises live on Facebook and LINE. Its operations are coordinated by the Liaison Officer.

A recorded feature was being broadcast when I visited them.

We have run the TV station for 10 years. We work as a family, says Thongkaeo, adding, I plan schedules, do interviews, arrange visitors to be interviewed, and during school term students help us. She invites me to take part in a discussion with her about Lotus Communication Network with the help of an English interpreter. But, before we start the interview she points out, we may be the only TV station in the world where no staff is paid. All staff has to be multitalented.

Samdin adds further that they work on the basis everybody-works-for free and the money they earn from their labour goes to a central fund which is managed by the Santi Asoke community. They have seven communities across Thailand, with the largest one and their headquarters in Ubon Ratchathani in north-east of Thailand near the Laos border.

Santi Asoke was founded by Bodhiraksa, a famous television entertainer in the 1970s, who became a monk in the early 1980s. He was not happy with the behavior of many monks who were non-vegetarian and involved with black magic rituals. Thus, he left the temple with a group of followers and set up a third sect of monks outside the control of the State. They became an outlawed sect in the tightly controlled Thai clergy.

But, when Santi Asoke member Major-General Chamlong Srimuang was elected as the Governor of Bangkok in 1985 and later showed interest in joining national politics there was a systematic campaign to demonise the group. Chamlong was extremely popular as a Governor, regarded as a Mr Clean, who lived modestly according to the Asoke teachings, ate one vegetarian meal a day, rejected tobacco and alcohol, and did not gamble or visit night-clubs, noted Mahidool University Professor Marja-Leena Heikkila-Horn in a study on Santi Asoke.

Chamlong had a potential to clean up the corrupt political establishment of the kingdom with a Buddhist moral movement that could appeal to the population, where 95 percent claim to be Buddhist.

In order to prevent Chamlong from taking to the national stage in politics, his Buddhist affiliations needed to be declared illegal, explains Prof Heikkila-Horn. Bodhiraksa was detained in June 1989 and all the Asoke monks and nuns were detained for one night in August 1989. A court case was filed against them that year; it lasted until 1996.

The economic crisis of 1997, where excessive greed and borrowing was identified as the root cause of the problem, stocks of Santi Asoke began to rise, because they have always been critical of greedy capitalism and promoted the concept of Buddhist economics known as bunniyom (meritism).

The purpose of having a business here is not to make money. We make contacts in doing business to practice the dhamma (virtues), says Samdin. Business here is viable because people want food. Take little profit so that they can continue to take a little wage.

He was explaining this principle to Lotus News while walking through their weekend market where the farmers (who dont use chemical inputs in their farms) sell their vegetables and fruits at a modest profit. There were also a number of vegetarian restaurants that were selling meals virtually for free.

> Chef Glang Din at the Indian restaurant with the notice board with keys for free meals on he left on the wall. Credit: Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-INPS.

An Indian vegetarian restaurant run by a Thai chef was giving food free of charge to monks, nuns and residents of the lay community here who have to come before 10.30 am to eat. Other people pay. They may also leave a donation to give one a free meal, chef Glang Din explained, pointing to keys on a noticeboard he said, key is on a board to show how many free meals are available. If you want to get one, take a key and give it to me for a free meal. Anyone can do it. He added that if you donate 4,000 Bhat (USD 130) I will give free meals for the day to everyone who wants a meal here.

At the height of the economic crisis in 1998, the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej famously advised Thais to follow a sufficiency economics model of contented economic self-reliance. This was what Santi Asoke has been practicing since its inception.

When business tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra came to power in 2001, Santi Asoke got the opportunity to preach their economic ideal to the rural masses. He delegated to Santi Asoke the government-financed training of tens of thousands of indebted farmers in Asoke centres. Farmers came in groups of about 100 and stayed for five days. They learnt about organic farming, recycling and reusing, and were obliged to listen to sermons on the virtues of vegetarianism and bunniyom.

Each Santi Asoke community, like the centre here, whose leafy 7 acre property is surrounded by creeping high rise buildings of developers, has in addition to the warehouse, the market space and restaurants, two multistorey apartment buildings housing lay followers, kutis (cottages) for monks and nuns, a school building, a health centre, departmental store selling mainly organic and herbal products, and a 4-storey unfinished temple in concrete with an artificial water fall behind a Buddha statue. They have been constructing the building in stages for 30 years, when we have money to do it says Samdin.

Interestingly, they dont have the large Buddha statues and lavish shrine rooms Thai temples normally have. Our community has 3 sections temple, school and community. All 3 are integrated, says Prouputt Kaodura, English interpreter for the community.

We dont worship Buddha the way others do. Buddha statues remind us of his teachings. Its not true that we dont respect Buddha, she adds. Chipping in Samdin says, Buddha statues means 3 things to us about worldly things, being knower of the world, having compassion.

Thus, the rooms and floors that surround the Buddha statue are areas for retreats, classes, conference rooms, meeting rooms and a library. It is a place for people to work, a very practical path, says Prouputt.

The Santi Ashoke communities are self-sustained Buddhist communities. Monks and people live according to the teachings of Buddha and they have developed a system of sustainable living, says Thai television producer Pipope Panitchpakdi who has reported on the community many times.

It is something good for todays world facing climate change and political divisions, etc, he says, pointing out that because Santi Asoke believes that capitalism is against humanity, the commercialized mainstream media shuns them.

* A video documentary on the Santi Asoke community can be viewed on Lotus Comm Net [IDN-InDepthNews 09 December 2019]

Photo (top): Farmers selling their vegetables and fruits from organic farming at a modest profit in the weekend market. Credit: Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-INPS.

Photos (in text): 1. Secondhand clothes being sold at a Buddhist supermarket in Santi Asoke community in the north-eastern outskirts of Bangkok. 2. Chef Glang Din at the Indian restaurant with the notice board with keys for free meals on he left on the wall. Credit: Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-INPS.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. -

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December 14th, 2019 at 10:44 pm

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Diss Tech Buddhists All You Wantbut Read This Book First – WIRED

Posted: December 6, 2019 at 11:43 pm

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In Silicon Valley, you are always an iPhones throw from a Buddhist. Some of them will have arrived at their Buddhism the usual wayfamily, culturebut a fair few will have adopted it later in life, as a piece of their adult identity. Even if theyre not checking the Buddhist box on the census, youll know them by their Zen meditation retreats, their references to the Middle Way, their wealth of Steve Jobs trivia. Did you know that Steve Jobs was a Buddhist who studied under Zen priest Kobun Chino Otogawa and once wandered India in search of a guru? Did you know Jobs swiped Apples famous Think different slogan from the Dalai Lama? Did you know Buddhism and tech companies have a grand historical synergy? When I moved to California from the East Coast, I did not. After living and working in San Francisco for a few years, I see Buddha everywhere.

In a place as secular and science-minded as Silicon Valley tends to be, finding room for Buddhism at work might seem like a stretch, but it isnt. High-profile examples of in-office Buddhism, like Googles Search Inside Yourself course, permeate the Valley. Bringing Buddha to work is, in fact, the point of a new book by a Facebook (and Microsoft, Instagram, YouTube, and Google) alum, data analyst and Zen priest Dan Zigmond. Its called Buddhas Office. In essence, its a book on Buddhism disguised as a self-help text aimed at office workers, and if that makes you want to close this tab, dont.

Buddha's Office by Dan Zigmond | Buy on Amazon

When I first met Zigmond at San Francisco lunch spot HRD, I was skeptical too. Not because Im opposed to tech workers being interested in and even practicing Buddhism. Full disclosure: Im married to a Buddhist-ish man who once gave up everything for a spider-infested Sri Lankan monastery and now works at a tech company. I was skeptical because I had real doubts that someone who lived in the South Bay and had held positions at a string of highly successful tech companies could possibly be living life along the Middle Way, the first teaching Buddha gave after his awakening, which basically amounts to avoiding extremes of any kind.

The lifestyle surrounding tech companiesparticularly the ones Zigmond has worked foris nothing if not extreme. Maybe toxically so. I had watched my partner wrestle with this truth for years and came to feel it myself. Then in came Zigmond, purporting to have all the answers, while owning a house in one of the most expensive regions in the country and suggesting we meet at a restaurant best known for burritos stuffed with barbecued meat. (Buddhism generally encourages vegetarianism.) How could he be anything but the stereotypical Silicon Valley Buddhist, the ones who preach productivity as if it is enlightenment?

Well, some of that was pretty unfair of me. For one, Zigmonda small, trim, bespectacled man with kind eyes and quiet mannersis a vegetarian after all. When we sat down together over eggplant katsu, the first thing he said to me was, What can I do for you? The second was something about how much he liked my colleague Cade Metzs coverage of his last book, Buddhas Diet, which recommends fasting intermittently like Buddhist monks, some of whom dont eat after noon. Zigmonds understated asceticism is disarming, though. He takes extremely neat bites, even of uncooperative foods like slippery deep-fried eggplant and cabbage salad. I started trying to twirl my cabbage shreds around my fork like spaghetti.

Zigmond comes from a Jewish background, but hes been a Buddhist for three decades, since college. After graduating, he left the United States for Thailand, where he lived at a Buddhist temple and taught English at a refugee camp. (His Facebook banner image looks to be from that time: Hes skinny, wearing sunglasses, a bandana, and a blue tie-dye shirt.) Even after returning to the States, he planned to remain a full-time Buddhist. While I was at the San Francisco Zen Center, I met my wife, I fell in love, and I had to get a job to support the family I wanted to have, he said. For a long time, I kept work and Buddhism separate. Work was what was keeping me from this other dream I had.

That changed when he left Google and began working at Facebook. (Zigmond acknowledges Googles embrace of Eastern philosophy with programs like Search Inside Yourself but also said that while working there he would go practice real Buddhism on the weekends.) When I got to Facebook, they made this big deal about bringing your authentic self to work, Zigmond says. I was really impressed by that. That really moved me. He began working in what he calls Buddhas office, a working life inspired by the teachings of Buddhism, and, over time, he decided that the practice was a book in its own right. Zigmond, like many people, sees sickness in contemporary working culture. He remembers a time when the only people always on-call were doctors and drug dealers, whereas now he feels like even baristas are tethered to their email. Buddhism, ultimately, is all about balance, he says. To Zigmond, we all look pretty wobbly.

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Diss Tech Buddhists All You Wantbut Read This Book First - WIRED

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December 6th, 2019 at 11:43 pm

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Annihilation Of Caste: Why Dr. Ambedkar Rejected Hinduism And Chose Buddhism – Youth Ki Awaaz

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Manuraj Shunmugasundaram is the National Media Spokesperson for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party. He is the Chair of the Steering Committee for Australia India Youth Dialogue. He is also a lawyer and practices at the Madras High Court. He is also a part of the Steering Committee for the School of Policy and Governance.

In the past, he has also served as a Policy Advisor to Members of Parliament. In November of 2010, Mr. Shunmugasundaram was selected as a Fellow of the Legislative Fellows Program, organized by the U.S. State Department, in 2010. He also participated in the European Union Visitor Program in 2013 as well as the Australia-India Youth Dialogue in 2014. He was a part of Project Interchange Indian delegation to visit Israel & Palestine in 2017.

Mr. Shunmugasundaram works to advance the cause of responsible politics, participatory governance, and evidence-based public policy. He is a regular contributor to The Hindu, Times of India, Indian Express, Huffington Post and The Print.

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Vasundhra is a fifth-year student at National Law University, Delhi. She is a core member of the research being conducted by Project 39A on issues of mental health of death row prisoners. As part of this, she has travelled across the country to meet and interview death row prisoners as well as their families.

She is also part of the core team at Parichay, which is a collaborative legal aid clinic spread across law schools in the country. It aims to assist those excluded from the NRC list in filing appeals. She has also founded a queer straight alliance on campus, which facilitates important conversations surrounding gender and sexuality. Part of being a law student, she believes, is a duty to use the law as an agent for progressive change in society, focusing especially on groups on the margins of society.

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Shikha Mandi is a 26-year-old belonging to the Santhal tribe the third largest tribe in India. She is Indias first RJ who hosts an entire programme in Santhali. Her two-hour radio show Johar Jhargram on Radio Milan has become widely popular in the past year. It covers a wide range of local issues, including Adivasi culture, festivals, and the challenges faced by tribals.

Supriya Paul is the co-founder of Josh Talks, an impact media platform headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana. Using the power of storytelling, Josh Talks is on a mission to create an ecosystem to help the youth go from where they are to where they want to be.

Josh Talks is proactively doing so by providing exposure to the youth by giving them access to role models and equipping them with skill sets so they can be empowered to take control of their lives. On 25th January 2019, Josh Talks was awarded the National Media Award by Honourable President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind and was named in a list of Top 50 Startups of India for 2017 by Economic Times.

Supriya is listed in the Forbes magazine Asia 30 Under 30 list for 2018 and received the SheThePeople Digital Women Award17 for Best Content Creation.

Dr Aditi Kaul is the Head of the Arts-Based Therapy Program with Fortis Healthcare under the National Mental Health Program. She is a grade 5 UNESCO and CID certified arts-based therapist who has run the programme pan Fortis for the last 7 years which includes working with persons diagnosed with Trauma, anxiety, depressive disorders, disorders of childhood, adolescents as well as stressors of day to day life using psychotherapeutic techniques including visual art, movement, writing and storytelling.

She has done over 500 preventive mental health workshops with schools colleges and NGOs across the city and has been teaching an Expressive Arts in clinical practice course for the last 6 years in collaboration with UNESCO and the Council of International Dance, amongst other short term courses.

Saurabh Dwivedi is a senior journalist with over 10 years of experience. Currently the Editor of The Lallantop, he has previously worked with Star News, Live India,Navbharat Times, Dainik Bhaskarand Aaj Tak.

The Lallantop is Indias leading digital first Hindi news media platform, with over 10 million subscribers on YouTube.

Mohammad Shams Aalam Shaikhis an international Para Swimmer. He won Bronze at the 2016 Can-Am Para Swimming Championships held in Gatineau, Quebec in the mens 100m Breaststroke SB4 category and also represented India at the2018 Asian Para Gamesin Jakarta, Indonesia. Shams currently holds the world record for longest open sea swimming by a paraplegic. He has received several accolades, including the Bihar Khel Ratna Award in 2018 and Jewel of Nation Award 2017

Shubham Gupta is an award-winning Mobile Journalist. He is the Head of Storytelling at People Like Us Create. Shubham has produced more than 2000 stories and his stories have also been shared by publications like Hindustan Times and Al Jazeera.

Tamseel Hussain is the Founder of People Like Us Create. He is a mobile storyteller & social media expert. With over a decade of experience, he has previously worked with organisations like, Oxfam, Greenpeace, civil society groups, media houses, tech-startups, and politicians. Tamseel helps build award-winning platforms, citizen-led campaigns, youth-focused public engagement, placemaking to building an ecosystem for community first storytelling in India, the middle east and Southeast Asian countries.

He also co-founded Indias largest pollution storytelling platform, it now has more than 300 storytellers from 11 Indian cities. They host 25 decision-makers via city-specific sessions and their partners include Twitter India and UN Environment amongst others.

Shubham Guptais an award-winning Mobile Journalist. He is the Head of Storytelling at People Like Us Create. Shubham has produced more than 2000 stories and his storieshave alsobeen shared by publications like Hindustan Times and Al Jazeera.

Mary Sebastian is a justice professional working for the elimination of violence against women and children with special focus on victims of sex trafficking in the State of Maharashtra. Mary briefly worked in the corporate law field before joining the development sector. She is currently working with a global anti-trafficking organization, International Justice Mission, where she assists law enforcement officials in the rescue of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and provides legal representation through court proceedings. Mary supports systemic interventions and advocacy efforts on the survivor justice-related issues at the state government level and has organized a national level consultation on the arrest of demand for commercial sexual exploitation. She is currently undertaking a research study with the Maharashtra State Child Rights Protection Commission to analyse the functioning of childcare agencies under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015 in six districts in Maharashtra. Mary also works towards generating awareness and sensitivity on the issue of trafficking perspectives through thought leadership initiatives.

Shantanu currently leads the Venture team at Ashoka Innovators for the Public, South Asia. Responsible for identifying and engaging the worlds largest and most powerful network of Social Entrepreneurs, Shantanu has worked with hundreds of innovators to enable powerful ideas to reach a systems-level change. Shantanu was previously an IDEX Global Social Enterprise Fellow, where he subsequently also a representative on their board of advisors. Prior to his time at Ashoka, Shantanu has worked extensively in the fields of youth mental health in Australia, youth civic participation and youth participation in diplomacy for national and international organisations, such as the Asia-Europe Foundation. Shantanu has a keen interest in reading, writing and the opportunity to engage with new groups of people.

Vishak G Iyer, a 2011-Batch IAS officer, is currently the Special Secretary to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Prior to this, he was the District Magistrate and Collector of Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh.

Hailing from Idukki, Kerala, Vishak has previously held the post of District Magistrate & Collector of Bhadohi, Hamirpur and Chief Development Officer of Meerut, and Varanasi.

An alumnus of MG University College of Engineering, Thodupuzha and a Chevening Fellow from Said Business School, University of Oxford, he has pursued B.Tech in Electronics & Communication Engineering and MA in Public Policy.

Vishak was instrumental in reviving the river Mandakini with community participation, during his stint as District Magistrate Chitrakoot. Chitrakoot district received National Water Awards-2019 under the category River rejuvenation for the effort.

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Samir Saran is the President of Observer Research Foundation (ORF), one of Asias most influential think tanks. Working with the Board, he provides strategic direction and leadership to ORFs multiple centres on fund raising, research projects, platform design and outreach initiatives including stakeholder engagement.

He curates the Raisina Dialogue, Indias annual flagship platform on geopolitics and geo-economics, and chairs CyFy, Indias annual conference on cyber security and internet governance.

Samir is also a Commissioner of The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, member of the South Asia advisory board of the World Economic Forum, and a part of its Global Future Council on Cybersecurity. Along with that, he is the Director of the Centre for Peace and Security at the Sardar Patel Police University, Jodhpur, India.

Samir writes frequently on issues of global governance, climate change, energy policy, global development architecture, artificial intelligence, cyber security, internet governance, and Indias foreign policy. He has authored four books, several academic papers, and is featured regularly in Indian and international print and broadcast media.

Virali Modi is a disability rights activist, motivational speaker, and model who has spearheaded a campaign around accessibility #MyTrainToo for accessible railways, which she started in 2017. Her petition on has over 200k signatories.

She has been recognized by the BBC and was named as one of the most influential and inspirational women of 2017 by BBC 100 Women.

Virali was Miss Wheelchair India runner up 2014, has worked alongside Salman Khan for the Being Human Campaign, and has been the showstopper for Bombay Times Fashion Week, FBB, and Jewels Of India.

As a quintessential Bangalorean, the initial part of Vaidehis career involved paying her dues to the IT industry as a Software Engineer, both in India, and for a year, overseas. On returning from the United States, she waved farewell to her corporate job and took off to the mountains. She also volunteered as a teacher in an eco-school called SECMOL in Ladakh. Next stop, was Vietnam, where she volunteered yet again, as an English teacher in an NGO that rehabilitates tribals in the mountains of Sapa and also had a brief stint as a writer for Humans Of Bombay, and its sister page We The People. Wordplay has travelled with her throughout her journey, and she found that Twitter was a convenient medium to journal her thoughts and ideas. Vaidehi has over 5000 puns on her Twitter handle till date, and around 12.5K wordplay aficionados who follow her. It also landed her at her current job as the Social Media Content Lead at Dunzo a hyperlocal delivery app.

Ritu Jaiswal contested and won the election for the position of Mukhiya from Gram Panchayat Raj Singwahini in 2016 by a huge margin. Since then, she has completely transformed the village by establishing education centres, building toilets to tackle open defecation, installing solar lights and building water capacity and building roads. She continues to work with the residents and runs awareness campaigns around menstrual health, biogas management and vocational training. Ms Jaiswal was conferred with the Uchh Shikshit Adarsh Yuva Sarpanch (Mukhiya) Puraskaar 2016 at the 7th Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad by the Maharashtra Institute of Technology, and was among the 5 Mukhiyas selected to represent Bihar for the Capacity Building Program for Sarpanch & Panchayat Secretaries by The Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India.

In March 2017, Ridhima filed a petition against the Government of India in the National Green Tribunal (NGT), asserting that the Indian government has failed to fulfil its duties towards the Indian people in mitigating climate change. In September, she joined Greta Thunberg at the Global Climate Strike in New York and also the International conference organized by Notre Affaire a Tous in Paris.

Along with fifteen teenagers from across the world, Ridhima has filed a complaint against five countries (Argentina, Turkey, Germany, France and Brazil) in the UN for not doing enough to address climate change.

Presently, she is spreading awareness in different cities of India to inspire others to protect the environment.

Aman is a class 11 student at Modern School, Vasant Vihar, N- Delhi. Inspired by his love for nature & the environment, 16-year-old Aman Sharma launched a petition on in May 2019 asking the government to declare a National climate emergency, which has reached 330,000 signatures now. It urges India to reach net zero-carbon emissions by 2030, stop all fossil-fuel expansion by 2020, stop deforestation for needless urban projects and provide its citizens the right to clean air and water.

Aman represented India at the first-ever youth and climate summit at Oslo Pax, Norway by the Nobel Peace Prize Center in September 2019 and his petition was later presented at the UN youth and climate summit in New York as a part of All in for Climate Action campaign which has 1.6 million signatures and 90 countries as part of it. He is a part of and striker with Fridays for Future India and avid birdwatcher, conservationist and wildlife photographer.

Ashok Malik is the former Press Secretary for the President of India. He began his career in the Telegraph newspaper in Kolkata in 1991 and subsequently worked for many leading publications, including The Times of India, India Today and Indian Express. In 2006, he embarked on a career as a self-employed columnist, serving at different points as a consulting editor to the Pioneer and Tehelka. In 2015 he joined the Observer Research Foundation. He has been appointed to the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, a think-tank focused on corporate social responsibility. He is a Member of the Rajghat Memorial Committee, which oversees the Memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. In 2016, he was awarded the Padma Shri, Indias fourth-highest civilian honour.

Karnika Kohli is the audience editor at She was previously with, where she led the social media desk, worked on campaigns to raise funding and was part of the team that organised events. Her main focus is on amplifying the reach of Scroll.ins work and building an engaged audience by bringing data, insights and strategies to the newsroom. She has also worked with the Times of India and NewsX.

Neha Arora is the founder of Planet Abled, which provides accessible travel solutions and leisure excursions for people with various disabilities and the elderly. Planet Abled was awarded as one of the best innovative practices by Zero Project Conference at United Nations Vienna. Planet Abled has also been the recipient of India Responsible Tourism Award by Outlook Traveler and World Travel Market, London Best Innovation in Travel & Overall Winner and NCPEDP Mphasis Universal Design Award. This year, Planet Abled was also the recipient of the National Award for the most unique and innovative tourism product by the Ministry of Tourism Government of India.

Planet Abled has also represented India as a major accessible travel destination on global platform like ITB Berlin, Global Sustainable Tourism Council Conference in Thailand and International Congress on Tourism and Technology in Diversity in Malaga, Spain.

Neha is a Global Good Fund Fellow and India Inclusion fellow and a graduate of Nasdaq Entrepreneurial centre MMI program, for her work at Planet Abled. Neha also conducts sessions and workshops in corporates, universities, incubators and various forums for amalgamation of people with disabilities in mainstream via the medium of travel.

Mir is an officer of the 2011 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), serving in the state of Kerala.

He was posted as District Collector of Kannur in August 2016. As District Collector, he was the prime mover behind the transformation of Kannur into Indias first plastic/disposable-free district.

His most recent initiative is a timely project titled Satyameva Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs) that trains teachers and students to identify, vet and respond to misinformation and fake news online. The programme was implemented in over 200 schools in Kannur, covering over 80,000 children making it the first of its kind in the country. His work was widely covered by the national media in India and international networks in Britain, China & Japan.

Under his leadership, Kannur received five Kerala e-Governance Awards, including best e-Governed district from the Chief Minister of Kerala in January 2019.

He has led large projects that have singularly focused on creating value and convenience for citizens. The core driving force of his work has been efficiently bringing together stakeholders from the government, private sector and members of society, in the interest of achieving important social goals.

After a successful three year stint as Kannur Collector, he recently took charge as Director, Kerala State Suchitwa Mission that oversees the implementation of waste management schemes across the state

Malini has 15 years of experience across3 industries IT, media and travel. She is a voice-over artist and the Founder/CEO of F5 Escapes, an experiential travel company, with a vision to redefine the way women travel India. She is not only passionate about working towards and promoting India as a safe destination for women but also a firm believer in sustainable living and travel. She believes in the power of peer learning and hence loves motivating women returning to the workplace and early-stage entrepreneurs.

Gulesh studied till ninth grade and was married off at 17. She was content being a homemaker until one day when in 2003 her husband was killed in an accident and it became absolutely necessary for her to become financially independent. She started with doing a few odd jobs like cooking at peoples houses, selling vegetables, frying pakoras at a roadside stall, etc., but it wasnt sustainable. About 3-4 years ago, she started her journey as an Uber driver. Today, she is financially independent and supporting her sons education.

Abhinav Agrawal, 27, an ethnomusicologist, musician and social entrepreneur is also the Founder Director of the Non-Profit Organisation, Anahad Foundation. Abhinav is working towards creating and reviving the diminishing folk music industry in India by creating self-reliant models that generate livelihoods, pride and dignity for stakeholders connected to this art form.

He is generating demand and value for cultural folk music through building respect, recognition, identity and self-confidence of folk musicians, and in parallel creating a self-sustainable economic environment where an artist can distribute their productions directly to the public without an intermediary. In doing so, Abhinav is helping create a Folk Music industry that is a sustainable art form and an industry that is musician-led.

Abhinav is also an Ashoka Fellow, and has been featured under Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list. He has also been awarded with the Karamveer Award.

Anshul is a social entrepreneur and a young media influencer, who founded Youth Ki Awaaz (YKA), Indias largest social justice media platform for young people to address and engage on critical issues, at the age of 17.

Over the last 11 years, Anshul has gained extensive experience in citizen-powered media, and participatory movement building, with YKA stories often starting nationwide movements creating impact.

An Ashoka Fellow, INK Fellow and Young Innovator (United Nations ITU), Forbes 30 Under 30, Anshul has helped several high-impact organisations engage young people in a variety of important conversations, from politics and gender to art and culture.

He is also on the Civil Society Advisory Group of UN Women for India and has previously served on the board of Jhatkaa, a campaigning organisation committed to building grassroots citizen power across India, and Collectively, a World Economic Forum and Unilever collaborative non-profit to build a sustainable future.

Basit Jamal is facilitating young people to understand the concepts of conflict resolution. He is repurposing the power of religion to be a solution rather than a roadblock to conflicts which has already seen millions die the world over. He works with students from schools, colleges, madrasas and worshippers in the mosques. He also promotes interfaith dialogue to better understand the other. Basit Jamal is the founder of Brotherhood of humanity. He was given Ashoka Fellowship in 2017. He was a co-author of UNESCOs youth waging peace manual. He was also given membership of the worlds biggest interfaith organization United Religions Initiative.

Ashish Birulee is an activist, independent journalist, content creator for Adivasi Lives Matter and power user on Youth Ki Awaaz. He belongs to the Ho Adivasi community and is from Jadugoda in Jharkhand. As a photojournalist has has worked to disclose damages caused by the uranium mines located just 500 meter from his home in Jadugoda. His work on the impact of radiation in Jadugoda has been featured at the 3rd and 9th International Uranium Film Festival in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 2013 and 2019, as well as the World Uranium Symposium in Quebec City, Canada 2015, Hiroshima 2015 and Osaka 2017.

Apar Gupta is a lawyer and the Executive Director of the Internet Freedom Foundation an Indian digital liberties organisation that seeks to ensure that technology respects fundamental rights.

Since 2015, he has been working extensively on public interest issues which include strategic litigation and organisation of campaigns and collectives. In courts, his work as a lawyer includes key digital rights cases on privacy and censorship.

He is a part of key constitutional challenges on Section 66A, the Right to Privacy and Aadhaar representing public interest litigants. Beyond court work he has worked extensively with activists and set up digital campaigns such as those on Net Neutrality (, fight against defamation laws ( and safeguard privacy ( Aparis committed to protect the constitution and fight a digital dystopia.

Mr. Kailash Satyarthi is an internationally acclaimed child rights activist who has been a tireless advocate of childrens rights for four decades now.

His interventions are spread across over 140 countries in the world in an endeavour to protect children from slavery, trafficking, forced labour, sexual abuse and all forms of violence. He has been instrumental in bringing the issues of children in the global and national development agendas besides leading worldwide movements against child exploitation and upholding the rights of children for peace, safety, health, wellbeing and education.

His unrelenting efforts for restoring the rights of the most marginalized and exploited children in the world won him the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 2014.

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Annihilation Of Caste: Why Dr. Ambedkar Rejected Hinduism And Chose Buddhism - Youth Ki Awaaz

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Lecture delivered on ‘The essence of Buddhism in Dhammapada’ – Daily Pioneer

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A special lecture was held on Tuesday at Sanchi Buddhist-Indian University of Knowledge Studies.

Prof. of Delhi University, monk Satyapal, gave a lecture before students, teachers and staff on the topic The essence of Buddhism in Dhammapada.

Monk Satpal, while addressing the students and teachers, said that sufferings in life can be reduced with the curtailment of needs. He had further said that all the sufferings of life can be eliminated through refuge too.

He said that Buddha used to say that one who leads the simplest form of life, gets maximum benefit because one who lives on ground, is not afraid of falling. If one flies in the sky due to pride, there is a strong chance that he will fall fast. Monk Satyapal said that there is no mention of Buddhism anywhere in the original literature of Pali language, but it is a Sanskrit word and the word Dhamma has come from it.

Monk Satyapala said that there are 84,000 skandas in the Buddhist scripture Tripitaka - that is, three boxes. Its shortest text contains 423 Dharma Skanda called Gatha.

The monk Satyapala said that it is mentioned in Buddhist philosophy that nothing (accidental) in the world is accidental but there is action and reason behind each one and this is the rule of work-cause. He said that the relief of sorrow, happiness, ultimate happiness (nirvana) and sorrow can be found through the ultimate truth.

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Lecture delivered on 'The essence of Buddhism in Dhammapada' - Daily Pioneer

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SOUTH KOREA PAKISTAN A Buddhist temple to boost the friendship between S Korea and Pakistan – AsiaNews

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The Venerable Wonhaeng, leader of South Koreas Buddhist Jogye Order, visited Pakistan for a week. The founder of Korean Buddhism came from what is now Pakistan. The Jogye Orders chief abbot met Pakistans president and prime minister in Islamabad. Peaceful coexistence between religions in Pakistan is possible.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) The Pakistani government has authorised the Jogye Order to build a Buddhist temple at a site that is historically connected to Buddhism. The leader of the order, the Venerable Wonhaeng, made the announcement during a visit to the South Asian country at the helm of a delegation of monks.

The abbot rarely travels and this one carries great symbolic value. His visit to Pakistan lasted from 16 to 24 November. Upon his return, he analysed the results of his visit, speaking about it following a religious ceremony in Seoul a few days ago.

I was deeply moved, he said, when I first stepped into Pakistan because it is the home country of the Ven Marananta, who brought Buddhism to Korea about 1,600 years ago.

During his stay, the abbot met privately with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan followed by another tte--tte with President Arif Alvi.

Khan himself said that he authorised the construction of a temple linked to the Order in one the sites most closely associated with Buddhism.

For his part, the Venerable said: I was impressed by the Pakistani government's ceaseless efforts to preserve historic sites having a trace of Buddhism.

Likewise, President Alvi stressed that religious groups can live peacefully in Pakistan. He went on to say that he hopes to see many South Korean Buddhists visit his country.

At present, Pakistani Buddhists number 1,500 out of a population of 197 million people. South Korea has a population of 52 million citizens with more than 20 million Buddhists (mostly members of the Jogye Order), but their numbers are down as there is no official registration for membership in the group. Christians are 26 per cent of the population, over 11 per cent Catholic.

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SOUTH KOREA PAKISTAN A Buddhist temple to boost the friendship between S Korea and Pakistan - AsiaNews

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Ambedkars legacy is being re-engineered to suit the Hindutva agenda – The Indian Express

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Written by Badri Narayan | Updated: December 7, 2019 9:15:47 am Dr. Ambedkar, Founder and Chairman, the Peples Education Society; in his office at Siddharth College, Anand Bhawan, Fort, Mumbai in 1946.

B R Ambedkar once said, I was born a Hindu but I will not die as a Hindu. Hence, before his death, he chose Buddhism. Inspired by him, a section of Dalits also converted to Buddhism. So soon after his Mahaparinirvan Divas, December 6, we need to ask: What is the relationship between the ideals and lived reality of Dalit life in the context of growing Hindutva?

There is a trend among members of a section of newly-educated Dalits in north India of adopting Buddhism. But during field work in the villages of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, we observed that their conversion, in terms of religious memories from Hinduism to Buddhism, is not yet complete: Some, for instance, are unable to stop themselves from celebrating Hindu festivals and worshipping Hindu deities, alongside worshipping Buddha and Ambedkar.

In UP, one may find Ambedkar statues in and around the Dalit bastis of many villages. Ambedkar is a symbolic inspiration for Dalits and the marginalised. This kind of symbolism provides them social confidence. In some of these bastis, the youth offer their prayers to Ambedkar statues after achieving any success in life or on special occasions. They find a kind of divinity in the symbol of Ambedkar. The Hindu Dalits, Dalit followers of Kabir and Ravidas, worship Ambedkar alongside their panthic deities and gurus: As we know, most Dalits in North India are followers of Hinduism, the Kabir panth and Ravidas panth. Despite criticism of the caste system, these sects comfortably interact and work within various Hindu religious public spheres.

Ambedkar remained strongly critical of the Hindu caste system. However, the Hindutva movement is trying to reconfigure Ambedkar as a symbol that is respectable for everyone by downplaying his criticism of the caste system. They want to extricate the criticism of the Hindu caste system from the version of Ambedkar they are trying to propagate. If all Hindus across castes start respecting Ambedkar, then his criticism of Hinduism maybe sidelined from the memory of Dalits and subaltern communities.

Ambedkar is also projected as the brand ambassador of the samrasta campaign run by the Hindutva parivar. One may find Ambedkar calendars and portraits at many RSS offices and public programmes. The BJP has taken various steps to showcase its concern, and respect, for Ambedkars memories and memorials: More than what the Congress did when it held office.

Although Kabir panthis and Ravidasis presented an alternative religious space and identity, they have a close relationship with Hindu religious memories due to their roots in the Bhakti movement. The aspiration to assert themselves as Hindu is growing among a section of subaltern communities. In villages near Allahabad, Sonbhadra and Mirzapur, smaller Dalit castes like Nats and Mangata who had liminal religious identity till a few years ago are now worshipping Hindu deities.

These communities aspire for social dignity by appropriating mainstream religious identities. Hindutva forces understand these growing aspirations, and try to project themselves as a social-cultural group working for the welfare of all Hindus. They also assert themselves as political-cultural groups following the ideals of Ambedkar. It is not easy for the Hindutva parivar to appropriate the symbol of Ambedkar, but they are consistently producing narratives visual, cultural and political to create a selective remembrance, and forgetting of, the original image of Ambedkar.

The social memories created by the Hindu religion, and the Hindutva version of Ambedkars symbol, are creating a situation where the Hindutva parivar is easily accessible to a section of the larger Dalit community. It is interesting to observe that an emphasis on Hindu religion and values once a major criticism of the RSS by Dalits and subalterns is now providing fertile ground to the Hindutva parivar.

This article first appeared in the print edition on December 7, 2019 under the title Ambedkar without caste. The writer is professor, Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad.

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Ambedkars legacy is being re-engineered to suit the Hindutva agenda - The Indian Express

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As English spread over the subcontinent, India lost forever its rich Persianate literary heritage –

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In the seventh century, the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang made an epic journey through the Gobi desert and over the Himalayas to the holy places of Buddhism in India. On the way, he noted to what extent the world he passed through was dominated by Indic ideas, languages and religions. People of distant places, with diverse customs, he wrote, generally designate India as the land they most admire.

The account that Xuanzang wrote of his journey, Buddhist Records of the Western World, makes it clear that the places he saw on his 17-year, 6,000-mile pilgrimage looked to India as the centre of world learning. In particular, its huge Buddhist universities, such as Nalanda and Vikramashila, with their tens of thousands of learned monks, were regarded with deepest reverence as though they were a sort of cross between Oxbridge, the Ivy League and the Alexandria Library.

For around 1,000 years, from c. 200 to 1200 AD, India was a confident exporter of its own civilisation in all its forms. At the same time, the rest of Asia was the willing and eager recipient of a startlingly comprehensive mass transfer of Indian soft power in culture, religion, art, music, technology, astronomy, mythology, language and literature. Just as Greece had radiated its philosophies, political ideas and architectural forms over an entire continent first to Aegean Turkey and Rome and then to the rest of Europe not by conquest but by sheer cultural sophistication, so at this period the sophistication of Indian civilisation and thought won devotees not just in south-east and central Asia but also, to some degree, in east Asia too.

Out of India came not just artists, sculptors, traders, astronomers and the occasional fleet of warships, but also missionaries of three rival Indic forms of religion:

Shaivite and Vaishnava Hinduism, and Buddhism. Sanskrit, the language of the gods in the world of men, was the lingua franca across the region, as is still clear from place names dotting the map all the way from Kandahar (Sanskrit: Gandhara) to Singapore (Sanskrit: Singhapura), and such fabled Indic monuments as Angkor Wat and Borobudur.

If the scale and breadth of this extraordinary cultural diffusion is not as well known as it should be, then that is partly due to a tendency to study the process as two separate disciplines, each the preserve of a different group of scholars. The many Buddhist monuments scattered around Afghanistan and the Taklamakan desert, through which Xuanzang passed, are usually viewed today as the first step in the story of the spread of Buddhism, or as a dogs-leg in the history of the Silk Road, a term only coined in the late 19th century to describe the trade routes linking China with the Mediterranean.

Conversely, the spread of Indian, and especially Hindu culture, literature and religion south-eastwards to Burma, Thailand, Sumatra, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Java and the Malay peninsula tends to be studied as part of the story of the Sanskritisation of Indo-China. Separated from each other by different university and museum departments, one extraordinary civilisational story has come to be polarised into two very different historical narratives.

Indias golden age as the centre of the Indophilic Sanskrit cosmopolis lasted an entire millennium. From 1200 onwards, however, it was Indias fate to be drawn into a second transregional world. The first Islamic conquests of India happened in the 11th century, with the capture of Lahore in 1021. Persianised Turks, from what is now central Afghanistan, seized Delhi from its Hindu rulers in 1192. By 1323, they had established a sultanate as far south as Madurai, towards the tip of the peninsula, and other sultanates were founded all the way from Gujarat in the west to Bengal in the east.

Today, the 13th-century conquests of the Persianate Delhi sultans are usually perceived as having been made by Muslims, but medieval Sanskrit inscriptions dont identify Indias Central Asian invaders by that term. Instead, the newcomers are identified by linguistic and ethnic affiliation, most typically as Turushka Turks or as the lords of the horses, which suggests that they were not seen primarily in terms of their religious identity. And although the conquests were initially marked by carnage and by the mass destruction of Hindu and Buddhist temples and places of learning, India quickly transformed the new arrivals.

Within a few centuries, a hybrid Persianate, Indo-Islamic civilisation emerged out of the meeting of these two worlds. As Richard M. Eaton writes at the beginning of his remarkable new book India in the Persianate Age 10001765:

The story of the encounter between the Persian and Sanskrit worlds is both rich and complex. Much of Indias history between 1000 and 1800 can be understood in terms of this prolonged and multifaceted interaction.

For the next few hundred years, India was not just the centre of what remained of its own Sanskrit cosmopolis, but also part of a transregional Persianate world, dominated by Persian language and culture and bound together by a canon of texts that circulated through ever-widening networks across much of western Asia. As Eaton writes:

India would quickly grow to become a major centre in its own right for the production, and not just the reception, of Persianate culture. Over the course of the next 600 years, India not Iran would become the worlds principal centre of Persian dictionaries. The first major anthology of Persian poetry would be compiled not in Central Asia or the Iranian plateau, but in the southern Punjab By 1700, India was probably the worlds leading centre for the patronage of Persian literature and scholarship, with an estimated seven times more people literate in Persian than Iran.

By 1264, a bilingual inscription carved on a newly founded mosque in Veraval, near the great Hindu temple of Somnath in Gujarat, gives a picture of a town where two worlds were coming into intimate contact. The Persian text refers to the deity worshipped in the mosque as Allah, and describes the patron who raised it as the sultan of sea-men, the sun of Islam and the Muslims. By contrast, the Sanskrit text identifies the deity worshipped in the mosque as Visvanatha (lord of the universe) and Sunyarupa (one whose form is the void) and Visvarupa (having various forms), while the patron is described as dharma-bhandaya a supporter of dharma, the righteous cosmic order of justice and duty, as understood in classical Indian thought.

At the same time, in the eastern Gangetic plains, the earliest genre of Hindi literature the so-called premkhyans, or Sufi romances were being written in the Persian script. These

narrated the seekers mystical quest for union with God, but did so using characters who were ostensibly Hindu in name and cultural and religious practices, in a landscape saturated with Indian deities, mythology, flora and fauna.

Before long, in medieval Hindu texts from south India, the sultan of Delhi was being talked about as the incarnation of the god Vishnu.

This cultural mixing took place with ever greater thoroughness and complexity throughout the subcontinent over the next 600 years. Entire hybrid languages notably Deccani and Urdu emerged, mixing the Sanskrit-derived vernaculars of India with Persian, as well as Turkish and Arabic words. It was a process that went both ways. The great Hindu rajas of Vijayanagara described themselves as sultans among Hindu kings, and adopted Islamicate dress: Persian tunics of Chinese silks called qabas, and tall, brocaded, brimless Persian headgear called kulahs. At the same time, the Mughal Emperor Akbar adopted a vegetarian diet and shortened his hair in the manner of religious ascetics. He also abolished pilgrimage taxes on non-Muslim institutions and the jizya head tax on non-Muslims, banned the killing of cows and peacocks, and began giving generous land grants to Hindu temples.

In his court, Persian translations of the Mahabharata and Ramayana from Sanskrit were commissioned, just as elsewhere Persian romance narratives such as Nizamis Layli va Majnun and Jamis Yusuf va Zulakha were being translated into numerous Indian languages. By the 17th century, Akbars great grandson, the crown prince Dara Shikoh, had composed a singular study of Hinduism and Islam, The Mingling of Two Oceans, which stressed the affinities of the two faiths, and what he believed to be the Vedic origins of the Koran.

Under the Mughals, India grew to be an industrial powerhouse, overtaking China as the worlds leading exporter, notably of manufactured textiles. The global success of Mughal weavers attracted European traders, among them the East India Company. India is rich in silver, noted the English merchant William Hawkins in 1613, for all nations bring coyne and carry away commodities.

In the 19th century, following the expansion of the Company across India, English gradually replaced Persian, and south Asia was drawn into a third transnational world: the westernising Anglosphere. Mastering English now became the route to advancement, and Indians who wished to get ahead had to abandon, or at least sublimate, much of their own culture, both Sanskrit and Persian, becoming instead English-speaking brown sahibs, or what V.S. Naipaul called Mimic Men. Literacy in Persian has now been lost to most Indians. Richard Eatons brilliant book stands as an important monument to this almost forgotten world.

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Nothing else compares to the greatest video game of the decade – National Post

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The Rinzai school of Zen, in Japanese Buddhism, has an unusual tradition of higher thought. As astrophysicist David Darling explains in his book Zen Physics: The Science of Death, the Logic of Reincarnation, it puts the intellect to work on problems that have no logical solution. The point of such exercises, Darling writes, is to induce a kind of intellectual catastrophe, or a sudden jump which lifts the individual out of the domain of words and reason into a direct, non-mediated experience.

Its a kind of holy rite for the super-cerebral: problem-solving as religion.

Darlings account of the intellectual catastrophe in Buddhism appears toward the end of the video game The Witness, hidden on a tape recorder that only the eagle-eyed will find and play. It proves very illuminating. Its not exactly a mission statement, Jonathan Blow, the games reclusive, ridiculously brilliant creator told me several years ago, when I spoke with him for a profile. But it is an analogy. We can do some very interesting things if we put down language as a crutch for communication. Thats the experiment of this game: just dont use language at all. I wanted to see what kinds of knowledge and experience we could build up without it.

Released in 2016, The Witness is a puzzle game. Rather its the puzzle game. By the standards of scale and complexity, it seems pretty much definitive, an unimprovable exemplar of the form. The Witness is set on a large, uninhabited island furnished, maybe by the hand of God, with an enormous number of gridded, chessboard-sized puzzles, elaborately wired and fixed to various doors, walls, fences and trees. Each puzzle has the same objective: to maneuver a slim line from one end of the board to the other. The obstacles introduced over the course of the game to impede that objective, however, are wildly frustrating and utterly ingenious a catalogue of impediments involving sound, light, and colour thatll challenge, and ultimately blow, your mind. There are more than 600 puzzles arranged across the island. It could take a hundred hours or more to solve them all.

The hours I spent immersed in The Witness were some of the most taxing and arduous of my adult life. There are no hints or tips. There are no arrows to guide you, manuals to consult or winning strategies of which to be apprised. There isnt the softest whisper of instruction or council. There is simply your mind and the puzzle direct, non-mediated experience. Sit in front of one hopeless problem for an evening, head aching terribly, as in mounting desperation you attempt to fruitlessly reverse-engineer your way back to an answer you are evidently missing: you will swear with sincere certainty that the game is broken and that no solution insists. But stick with it long enough and the solutions will occur to you. The sensation when they do is indescribable.

Triple-A video games have a tendency toward childishness, broadly speaking. They are like blockbuster movies: entertaining, but superficial. The greatness of The Witness, meanwhile, is less a matter of difficult than seriousness intellectual and philosophical, it is a work of serious thought.

When I sit down to try to make a game, Blow has said, its not that different from what a seriously novelist tries to do. Im seriously wrangling with an idea that Im trying to express in a particular form. What Blow expressed with The Witness is something akin to the intellectual catastrophe of the Japanese Buddhists, forcing with its maddening puzzles the individual out of the domain of words. Its aggravating and beautiful, and there hasnt been anything like it in gaming before or since.

The 10 best video games of the decade:

10. Her Story 9. The Stanley Parable 8. L.A. Noire 7. Undertale 6. Bloodborne 5. Life is Strange 4. Portal 2 3. Cuphead 2. Red Dead Redemption 2 1. The Witness

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My Hero Academia: 10 Things You Need To Know About The Shie Hassaikai – CBR – Comic Book Resources

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My Hero Academiaaka Boku No Hero Academiahas been a massive hit with the fans. It is an example of a classic shonen series and thus far it has entertained with its likable characters, great artwork and intriguing story arcs. One of the most fascinating story arcs in the show is the 'Shie Hassaikai' arc which literally translates to the 'Eight Precepts of Death'.

In order to get Season 4 started, fans need to know who the villain Kai Chisaki of the 'Eight Precepts of Death' and his teammates are. For starters, he heads the Shie Hassaikai Yakuza crime family. He has been catapulted as the biggest antagonist of Season 4.

Here are the top ten facts about Shie Hassaikai.

RELATED:My Hero Academia: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Overhaul

Shie Hassaikai is the branch of Yakuza in My Hero Academiaworld. They are the chief antagonists of the Internships Arc. The Shie Hassaikai consists of eight members who are lead byKai Chisaki, villain name 'Overhaul'. They are the main antagonists of Season 4 of My Hero Academia. After their head became bedridden, Overhaul stepped into his shoes and took control of the Shie Hassaikai.

The Shie Hassaikai aren't the only but the remnants of the Yakuza or Japanese mafia. Along with numerous fractions, they used to control the underworld of Japan. As the hero society rose, Yakuza's power was nullified. They were rendered helpless in wake of Heroes such as All Might. Hence their ideology is committing themselves to the doom of the Hero Society.Yakuza follows a strict code of conduct for the order of business.

The 'Eight Precepts' is a direct reference to Buddhism and its eight founding principles. The Eight guidelines laid down in Buddhism are meant to be strictly followed by Buddhists throughout their lifespan. Lord Buddha prescribed an Eight-fold path for ethical living.

RELATED: My Hero Academia: 5 Times Deku Deserved To Be The Next Symbol Of Peace (& 5 Times He Didn't)

However, in the Shie Hassaikai arc, the members constantly disobey these eight precepts. Shie Hassaikai bases itself on the corruption of Buddhism, more importantly, these eight precepts.

Due to the fall of the Yakuza order, the Shie Hassaikai possesses limited to scant resources. Hence they are known to be a small gang of criminals. As a result, Overhaul, the leader has a pretty lenient recruitment process. He takes in his wing anyone and everyone willing to serve him. This includes thugs and scums with no impressive records, therefore, most of Shie Hassaikai consists of unimpressive thugs.

Not much is known about the Boss, other than the fact that he ran Shie Hassaikai prior to Kai Chisaki. He took Kai under his wing and raised him to be a fierce Shie Hassaikai leader. The Boss firmly believed in Yakuza's strict code of ethics, such as their chivalry. According to him, this is what distinguished Shie Hassaikai from other thugs and villains. He tried to form a level playing field, a way in which villains could survive in the current world. However, Kai Chisaki chose to absolute disobey the Boss in this regard.

Before being inducted into the Shie Hassaikai family, he was living on the streets. As the Crime family took him under his wing, he slowly blossomed into a ruthless villain. Kai is committed to bringing back the lost glory of the Shie Hassaikai family.

RELATED: My Hero Academia: The 10 Best Melee Student and Heroes, Ranked

Along with that, his other obsessions and commitments are to return the world to the way it was before the Quirk phenomenon.

Hari Kurono is the next to Chisaki. He is his assistant and his Quirk 'Chronostasis'. His hair is always hidden under his mask. If Hari stays put, his hair extends, pierces, and slows down time for his enemy.

The General manager is Joi Irinaka who is codenamed 'Mimic'. He's deeply committed to gaining control of society and make Yakuza the single greatest power. His Quirk is mimic. It lets him warp himself into objects and control them. His tiny size, however, is a constant detriment.

The squad consists of members of the 'Eight Precepts of Death' called the Eight Expendables. Each of these is madly devoted to Kai Chisaki. The first one is Shin Nemoto who possesses the Quirk of 'Confession' which lets people confess things to him. After him comes Rikiya Katsukame, a muscular man who possesses the 'Vitality Stealing' Quirk. Rikiya can steal the stamina of literally anyone by touching them.

Deidoro Sakaki with the Quirk 'Sloshed' causes people to trip and lose their balance. Toya Setsuno, is the next member, part of a three-member team within the Expendables. His Quirk is 'Larceny' that lets him teleport things from people into his hand.

Yu Hojo possesses the Quirk 'Crystallization'. He can protrude crystals from his body that can be used in any physical combat. Soramitsu Tabe follows next, who possesses the Quirk 'Food'. It means that he can eat anything, from any indigestible material to his enemy!

Kendo Rappais next, who possesses the Quirk 'Strongarm', that gives his shoulders extreme agility. As a result, Kendo is an ace punching man. He is followed by Hekiji Tengai who possesses the Quirk 'Barrier', and his mind can create a strong line of defense barrier with this Quirk.

The Quirk is a superhuman ability that a being can possess. Starting with a newborn in the city of Qingqing, the phenomenon spread far and wide. Each individual possesses a specific ability, so to say, Quirk.

Not only does Kai look down upon Quirks, he firmly believes in the old theory that they come from rats. Quirks in Kai's opinion have plagued humanity, so he wants to exterminate them from the world. He believes that their so-called heroic sacrifices are a sickness termed "Hero Syndrome".

Beset with the singular goal of being 'Leader of the Underworld", Overhaul believes in the total extermination of the Quirks. In his opinion, once the Earth is rid of them, the Yakuza can reclaim their lost power. The original leader of the Shie Hassaikai was a man named the 'Boss'. Ever sinceKaiwas picked up from the streets and nurtured by Shie Hassaikai, Kai feels indebted to the Boss.

Now that the mantle of Shie Hassaikai has passed on to Kai Chisaki, he is committed to exterminating the Quirks because they ruined the Boss's life.

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Monastic Ordination in Theravada Buddhism – The Good Men Project

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This is the fourth of a series of blog posts looking forward to the British Library exhibition on Buddhism, 25 Oct 2019 23 Feb 2020

The Buddhist rainy season retreat or Buddhist lent, which started on Dhamma Day last month (17 July), is used by many Theravada Buddhists to enter the monastic order, Sangha, for the whole three months of the Buddhist lent. Ordination can also be for a shorter or longer period of time, depending on personal circumstances and decisions.

The practice of monastic ordination goes back to the time of the historical Buddha. Soon after he attained enlightenment, the Buddha founded a community of disciples called the Sangha. He started to form his bhikkhu-sangha with only five monks; but because of the rationality of the Dhamma he soon gained a large number of followers.

Yasa, the son of a rich man, joins the monkhood to become the sixth bhikkhu after the Buddhas five chief disciples. Fifty of Yasas friends followed his example and joined the Sangha. Burmese manuscript, 19th century. British Library, Or 14553, f. 2

The Sangha is central to Theravada Buddhism. In the context of Buddhist monasticism, one who enters into a monastic life should for all purposes aim at the extinction of the three root causes of suffering (dukkha) ignorance, aversion and greed in order to put an end to the cycle of rebirths (samsara). Monastics shave their heads, wear robes in a shade of yellow, orange or ochre, study the Buddhist doctrines, observe a particular number of precepts depending on their religious advancement, practice meditation and spread the Dhamma, the Buddhas teachings. Eight requisites (attha parikkhara) allowed to a monastic include three yellow, orange or ochre robes (i.e. the lower loincloth, the upper inner robe and the large top robe), an alms bowl, a razor to shave the head, a needle for mending clothes, a water strainer, and a cloth girdle.

The eight requisites of monastics and some additional items like a ceremonial fan and a shoulder bag for travelling are normally donated by the lay community as acts of merit, along with food, medicines and objects for daily use. Making merit is at the centre of Theravada Buddhism and shapes the interaction between Sangha and the lay community. High levels of merit-making are regarded as a sign of peace, happy relationships and prosperity within the community or the entire country.

The Sinhala Ordination was introduced into Burma from Sri Lanka in the 12th century. In 1423 CE, twenty-five monks from Chiang Mai and eight monks from Angkor travelled to Sri Lanka and brought the Sinhala Ordination to Thailand. In 1476 CE, twenty-two monks from Burma were sent in two ships to the island. They were duly ordained by the Mahavihara monks at the consecrated sima (ordination hall) on the Kalyani River, near Colombo. Upon the return of these monks, King Dhammaceti (1471-1492 CE) built the Kalyani Sima in Pegu (Bago), where monks from neighbouring countries received their ordination.

In mainland Southeast Asia, two types of ordination ceremonies are held in the sima: ordination for novices (pabbajja), and ordination for monks (upasampada). To become a novice, the follower has to recite the Ten Precepts as well as the Three Refuges of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. In order to become a monk, the Sangha or monastic community will perform the upasampada ordination on fulfilment of the five conditions: Perfection of a person, Perfection of an assembly, Perfection of the sima, Perfection of the motion, and Perfection of the Kammavaca. The most senior elder leads the assembly for the newly-ordained monk, while selected monks will recite the upasampada Kammavaca ordination text taking great care with articulation and pronunciation.

There are 227 monastic rules for a bhikkhu (monks) and 311 monastic rules for a bhikkhuni (nuns) as described in the Vinaya Pitaka under the section of Patimokkha, which includes abstaining from eating after midday and refraining from handling money. After the death of King Suddhodana, father of the Buddha, the widowed queen Mahapajapati Gotami went to the Buddha and asked him to allow women to be fully ordained. The Buddha initially refused her request as the reality of living nunhood posed a hardship for the women. After the Buddhas disciple Ananda pleaded, the Buddha granted the request of Gotami on her promise to accept certain important rules to qualify her for ordination. Gotami, the Buddhas foster mother was the first woman to be ordained in Buddhism to become a bhikkhuni. After Gotamis ordination and the ordination of her five hundred followers, more and more women became nuns during the life time of the Buddha.

Although there is currently no formally acknowledged Order of Bikkhuni in Burma, Thailand or Laos, upasika (women who take vows) play important roles in society. They shave their heads, wear light yellow or white robes, keep eight or ten precepts, study the Buddhist doctrines, practice meditation and spread the Dhamma. They are also educators for women who wish to become upasika. They help carry out religious rituals and ceremonies, and they give support to elderly women, widows and orphans who are left without family. Currently, there are strong endeavours to revive full ordination of women and to get formal acknowledgement of the bhikkhuni-sangha in several Southeast Asian countries. It is said that the bhikkhuni-sangha and ordination of nuns in the Theravada tradition had died out about 1000 years ago. Nonetheless many manuscripts containing the entire Bhikkhuni-patimokkha were still produced in Southeast Asia during the 18th and 19th centuries, and this leads to the question as to why this was done, if the Order of Bhikkhuni had indeed been non-existent for centuries.

San San May, Curator for Burmese Jana Igunma, Lead curator, Buddhism exhibition

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Monastic Ordination in Theravada Buddhism - The Good Men Project

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November 23rd, 2019 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

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