METRO PLUS

Path to inner peace

MODEL CHAITYA: The meditation hall.

MODEL CHAITYA: The meditation hall.  

VAISAKHA PURNIMA or Buddha Purnima, is the thrice-blessed day according to the Buddhist tradition as it is the day of Buddha's birth, his enlightenment and the day he attained nirvana. The celebrations marking the 2546th Buddha Jayanti held in the twin cities on May 26 featured chanting of hymns and discourses of dhamma held at the Ananda Buddha Vihara Cultural Complex at Mahendra Hills, Secunderabad and a series of cultural programmes including Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dance ballets based on the life and teachings of Buddha besides a Photo Exhibition of Buddhist Monuments and Relics of Buddha found in Andhra Pradesh on People's Plaza, Necklace road (May 24-26). The celebrations also saw a peace march by the Buddhist monks.

As a norm, cosmic order and a religious tenet, Dhamma, the teachings of Buddha, have different meanings at various levels. From time immemorial the three-fold division of the eight-fold path, namely sila (virtue), samadhi (concentration) and panna (wisdom) enshrining the simplicity of the Buddhist thinking, has attracted many an individual to seek inner poise.

That Andhra Pradesh is an important centre of Buddhism is evident from the presence of over 500 inscriptions and numerous sites excavated in the region. "Buddhist teaching and culture is not new to the people of Andhra Pradesh. One finds that different sects of Buddhism lived together in Nagarjunakonda University in ancient times. In recent times, the traditional Barua Buddhists from the North-East and the Chinese community from mainland China have provided a fillip to the Buddhist Culture in the twin cities with the formation of the Ananda Buddha Vihara Trust in 1996 and the Buddha's Light International Associations' chapter here in 1994," observes Ven. K. Sangharakshita Mahathera, Chairman, Ananda Buddha Vihara Trust and President, Buddha's Light International Association, Andhra Pradesh Chapter.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: The Ananda Buddha Vihara Cultural Complex .— Photos: K. Ramesh Babu

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: The Ananda Buddha Vihara Cultural Complex .— Photos: K. Ramesh Babu  

The Ananda Buddha Vihara Trust is a public charitable trust devoted to the cause of reviving, preserving and propagating Buddhist tradition. The trust also conducts Dhamma discourses, brings out publications in regional language and the quarterly Dhamma magazine Suhrullekha. The centre also has monks visiting frequently from Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan and other South East Asian countries. Rinku Barua, a BSc microbiology student from the twin cities who has recently joined the order says, "a lot of self-study and discipline forms a part of the training, with exercises, walking and meditation, as part of the daily schedule. One finds the need to look beyond self and a sense of duty and work for the needy." Several monks from the monastery located at Tukaram Gate, North Lallaguda are now undergoing monastic training in Sri Lanka and Taiwan respectively. "I see a lot of development in Buddhism in the twin cities since my last visit in 1992," reflects Ven Panya Tiloka, Assistant Abbot Bangladesh Buddhist Monastery. This year several monks and llamas from Tibet, and monks from Myanmar and Taiwan attended the Buddha Jayanti festival wherein for the first time the prayers were held at the chaitya atop Mahendra Hills in the three-acre Ananda Buddha Vihara complex which is under construction. With the characteristic stupa dome, sloping roof and pillars, this colossal stone structure located virtually above the din of civilisation is set to be an architectural and cultural landmark on the tourist map of Andhra Pradesh.

The lofty gateway or the arch beams and elevation columns of the chaitya overlooking the lotus pond have been constructed after substantial research into Buddhist structures worldwide by Delhi-based architect Ujan Ghosh. The high semi-circular ceiling comprises five stupa arches over the chaitya prayer hall with provision for natural light to enter. The inner dome resting on a single beam serves as the umbrella for the gold plated bronze Buddha in the dhyanamudra from Myanmar.

With the chaitya on the topmost floor, the complex comprises three floors, each floor is provided with a separate flight of stairs, and an elevator arrangement is underway for the elderly. The first floor houses a reference library on Buddhist literature with rare books sourced from various parts of the world representing the different Buddhist traditions.

Path to inner peace

The second floor is allocated for a museum that would be housing Buddhist artefacts. An attempt is being made to recreate the Buddhist art in the same style as at Amaravati in order to reflect the regional Buddhist tradition.

A Vishwa Shanti stupa, vihara (the residential complex for the monks) and a charitable dispensary are planned for the second phase. "Historically, the viharas have fostered and sustained the visual arts and the viharas at the complex will carry forward that great tradition. We want to make the Ananda Buddha Vihara cultural complex a centre for Buddhist literature and art. We do take up a lot of philanthropic work and we would be also looking into health and literacy. And this would be a place for people to meet resident monks," says C Anjeneya Reddy, IPS, and Vice Chairman Ananda Buddha Vihara Trust.

(One can register with Ananda Buddha Vihara Trust as dayaka and maha dayaka, apart from the one-rupee-a-day donor enrolment. The Trust may be reached on 7732421).

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