I’m writing this blog from Nagpur a couple of days before a huge celebration at diksa bhumi – the conversion ground. At least a million people, and possibly many more will gather to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the conversion to Buddhism of Dr Ambedkar, the great leader of the Dalits: people who were considered ‘untouchable’ under the Hindu caste system. He sparked a wave of conversions among his followers and there are now around 10-12 million Ambedkarite Buddhists, mainly in the central Indian state of Maharashtra. Nagpur in eastern Maharashtra is the heart of the Buddhist movement and diksa bhumi is where it all started.
What makes this of more than historical interest is that the anniversary is sparking a fresh wave of conversions. Starting on 2 October and continuing for several weeks many thousands more people will be adopting Buddhism, and quite possibly millions will do so. Here in Maharashtra half a million plus ‘tribal’ people – who like the ‘untouchables’ also suffer intense discrimination within the Hindu caste system. And there are reports of very large conversions, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, in Hydrabad, Gujerat, Delhi, Bombay and many other cities.
And yet, despite the scale of these events, and their deep significance for India and beyond, these vents are almost unknown in the West and almost entirely absent from the internet. I am in Nagpur to write an article for Tricycle magazine but while I am here I hope to offer reliable, accurate and up to the minute reports of what is happening, at least for the next few weeks. I hope this will be picked up in the western and Indian media as well as by Buddhists and others who want to know what is happening.
First some useful contacts and links:
To email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am happy to help with enquiries from journalists etc.
Another contact for press in India is Maitreyanath: +91 9422082687
For background information:
www.karuna.org, www.jambudvipa.org, www.tbmsg.org
I am also keeping a personal blog at http://www.mac.com//redirect/http://vishvapani-observations.blogspot.com/
My personal website is http://www.vishvapani.org