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Title Friends of the Western Buddhist Order - Free translation of Dharmachari Bakul's Open Letter
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Friends of the Western Buddhist Order - Free translation of Dharmachari Bakuls Open Letter to Dharmachari Subhuti (FWBO head) 10.9.99. Ahmedabad. Dear Subhuti, I received your letter of 25.8.99 on 5.9.99. I have nothing to repent, in as much as I have neither used any improper language nor committed any unskilful acts. In my letter of 22.8.99, I pointed out to you that you had neither laid any charges against me, nor given me any chance to explain them to you. You have thrown me out of the Sangha. Stalin must be admiring your audacity in his grave. Sanghas position in the three jewels is unique. Who is bothered about it? How can you take this action unknown to whole of the Sangha? How can you undo my twenty-years commitment to the Sangha in one second? The Sangha is sovereign; not you. You have first taken the decision to throw Vimalakirti and me out of the Sangha, and suspend Bodhidharma and then you informed the Dharmacaris in the world. You did not consult the Indian sangha. The hidden authoritarianism in the movement has now surfaced and is apparent to the whole world. I have heard that after pronouncing the death sentence, you have decided to consult the Indian dharmacaris. How can the Indian sangha express its opinion, without hearing Vimalakirti, Bodhidharma, and me? What kind of justice is this, first death sentence, and then the jury consultation? This is not the spiritual way; it smells of fascism Are you living in the twentieth century? There are four unskilful acts enumerated in the Vinaya Pitika, which attract the punishment of excommunication from the sangha. They are (1) sexual misconduct (2) taking of a life (3) stealing and (4) impersonating an Arhant or his siddhis. How come you have added expression of free speech to this list? You are going against the teachings of the Buddha. Today it is the case of two dharmacaris, tomorrow there will be five or ten. My dear Subhuti, according to me, you have created an atmosphere of fear especially amongst full-time dharmacaris, mitras and friends, in and around the Mahavihar. Are spiritual quest and power mode, two opposites of your personality? I am reminded of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. For twenty years Lokamitra performed this role. In most centres after the initial election of the establishment of the centre, this became very apparent. For years I experienced this behaviour in Ahmedabad centre, but I under played my role and praised Lokamitra. I have noticed the practice of divide and rule, for many years. This role does not suit you. You and others are preaching through the medium of books and other means tolerance towards sexual activity, and especially towards same sex activity. How is it compatible with the Indian culture? Homosexual acts are forbidden in law, in India. Under the provisions of Indian Penal Code Article 377, such acts attract the punishment of life imprisonment, or ten years rigorous imprisonment and/or a fine. It is an indictable, unbailable offence. You did not approve of my seminar paper. You dislike independent thinking. Independent thinking is Buddhas gift. Babasaheb also believed in freedom of thought. You maintain that Vimalakirti and my removal from the sangha has nothing to do with the seminar held on the 7th & the 8th of August. If that is not the case, why did you, Lokamitra, Sudarshan and Adityabodhi abandon the convention in England, and arrive here on the 11th? How come you chucked me out on the 13th August? The convention in England was finishing on the 19th August only. Who is going to believe your lies that my removal had nothing to do with the seminar held in Poona on the 7th/8th August? The reason for my removal as given by you is the difference of opinion in the AGM with the two dharmacharis Ratnaker and Annandshakya. The truth is that Ratnaker and Annadashakya have been chairman and the secretary respectively, for the last seven years. During their negligent reign, the boys hostel received a grant of Rs. 107,000 from the Gujarat Government, yet there was a large loss. Because of the indebtedness the children had to go without a daily breakfast, for ten months. The local spiritual retreats were cancelled for one and half years. Forget about the outreach activities, nothing has been possible by way of spreading the dharma, outside the hostel building. All local dharmacharis and the sangha were unhappy. So in the AGM held on the 21st June 1998, the dharmacharis decided to make a change and appoint me as a chairman. Only dissenters amongst the nine dharmacharis were Ratnaker and Annandshakya. Ratnaker and Annandshakya have been a chairman and a secretary respectively for the last seven years. I have not been involved with any elected position during the period 1990 to 1998. Lokamitra, Sudarsha, Addityabodhi and you, have opted For their version of events. The committee appointed by you and consisting of Vivekaratna, Abhayaraja and Anomadassi re-appointed Ratnaker as the chairman. This farce lasted for ten months. During the Bodhidaran convention the committee re-appointing Ratnaker as the chairman confessed that they had erred in interfering in the affairs of an independent trust. This negligence could have landed Ratnaker and Anandashakya before the charity commissioner. Ratnaker wanted to go to England, and till this matter was sorted out he could not go. It was sorted out in the last few months only. During the meeting held for the election of a chairman I had brought up the matter of losses during the regime of Ratnaker and Anandashakya. A wrong message was being conveyed to the Ahmedabad centre that though mistakes were made nobody could challenge them, as they were under your protection and patronage. Instead of both of them being reprimanded, they were being rewarded. Ratnaker is my old friend and we have been jointly involved in many a project. It is a matter of principle and not personalities. I had to act. I even sent a message of good wishes, when Ratnaker was going to England. I am ashamed to point out to a senior dharmachari like you, that you have deliberately painted a wrong picture. It is quite obvious that my removal from the sangha is the result of the paper I read at the seminar in Mahavihar. In the seminar I have refrained from saying anything against any individual order member. Please listen to my cassette recording, before making up your mind. Bhantes vision is at variance from Babasahebs vision. Subhuti has kept quiet about it. Vimalakirti has elaborated on this subject correctly. In his paper of 22cd July he has fully discussed this matter. Vimalakirti has enlightened the people about this issue. He has cautioned people against deception. In your eyes this is a crime, and that is why he has been chucked out of the sangha. I completely agree with his views. It is shameful that you have tried to drive a wedge between us. Vimalakirti has only expressed his views, but you have decided to interpret it as creating disharmony in sangha. I was the first Indian to be ordained as a dharmachari. For twenty years I have sacrificed a lot to build a sangha. I kept quiet, because I had absolute faith in Bhante. The Guardian article has shattered my faith in Bhante. My study of Subhutis articles and books over the two-year period has been a eye opener. What I perceived as a truth, I presented in the seminar. It is imperative that all dharmacharis, mitras, friends, and the general sangha knows the truth. The West knows about it from Subhutis books and articles. The years of study, experience and duty impelled me to tell the truth. I owed this duty to the Indian dharmacharis. By expelling me from the Indian and thus the world sangha, you have acted from the power mode. The order members everywhere, must ponder on this question. They must seriously challenge this authoritarianism. If it is not challenged, the sangha will be failing Buddha and Dr. Ambedkar. I have many friends in the order. It will be painful to be separated from them. However, I am not going to lick anybodys boots to be readmitted to the sangha. I am sure you have acted imperiously. This will result in more disharmony. Nobody can eclipse Dr. Ambedkars vision. They will fail. Jai Bhim, Nammo Buddhaya, Free translation From Hindi into English by Buddhabharti translation bureau. and (the following was signed by 86 Indian FWBO [TBMSG] Mitras from the Mumbai [Bombay] area) December 25th 1999 Dear Sangharakshita, We, the undersigned, very much regret to state that we no longer consider you to be our teacher and guide in the Dhamma. By telling us lies and making false claims you have rendered yourself unworthy of being a teacher and guide in the Dhamma. By misleading us, the Indian Buddhists and staunch followers of Bodhisattva Babasaheb Ambedkar, you have committed a gross breach of the basic precepts of Buddhism. please note that henceforth you have no place in the lives of Buddhists in India in general and the Ambedkarites in particular. As a mark of protest, on this 25th day of December, the 72nd anniversary of the burning of the Manusmirti, we are burning your photograph publicly. Incidentally, we feel it our duty to state the following for your information and guidance. Firstly, when you came to India, you told us that you wanted to help Dr. Ambedkars work grow, that you had personally shared some of his ideas about the propagation of Buddhism in India, ideas that you wanted to share with us and help the Ambedkarite movement to grow in a distinctive manner and style. You never made it clear that your real interest was to set foot amongst the Ambedkarites and secretly establish your own cult which claimed total allegiance to your person as Guru and founder of the so-called international movement, this at the cost of Ambedkar and his distinct vision of the revival of Buddhism in India. Neither you nor your disciples have any understanding of caste-ridden Indian society, the intricacies of socio-economic problems directly related with peoples religious status, nor of Dr Ambedkars way of dealing with this by way of Buddhism.Your claim that you are doing Dr. Ambedkars work is a blatant lie and by chanting his name you have betrayed both Dr.Ambedkar and his followers. What right do you have to do this, playing with our lives and interests? Secondly, while claiming to be a properly ordained Buddhist monk, a Bhikshu, you showed no respect for the devout feelings Buddhists associated with the robe by indulging in sexual misconduct, experimenting with drugs and teaching the neutrality of sexual activities.In our opinion, this final act of yours was nothing more than an attempt to cover up your misbehaviour as a monk while still holding onto the power and prestige which the yellow robe along with the epithets Bhikshu and Mahasthavir held in the eyes of the common people.Thus you have cheated us. Why didnt you tell us right from the beginning that you werent a monk?Why didnt you feel ashamed appearing before us in the yellow robe between 1979 and 1993? how can this falsehood be considered spiritual, nay, even common human behaviour? Yet you and your disciples talk of being a spiritual movement, a misnomer which amounts to a denigration of the truly spiritual. Thirdly, those funds raised by your disciples in the UK through Karuna Trust for supposedly carrying on some social activities for the benefit of poor and backward people are grossly misused by you for the propagation and preservation of your cult.Indians working full-time in these social projects are humiliated and forcefully repressed by threats of sacking and the withdrawal of funds. Poor as they are, for it is indeed hard to make a living in India, they are easy prey to this sort of pressure and are thus forced to nod to the dictates of your cult. In a free and sovereign land such as India, where Dr.Ambedkar worked to abolish the blatant enslavement and exploitation of the caste system, your disciples are freely enforcing yet another form of enslavement by humiliating and exploiting the poor, pressurising them into accepting both your cult and your supremacy.What authority do you and your disciples have to enforce this kind of enslavement upon us, and this at the cost of naive donors in the UK and other Buddhist countries? Finally, we wish to record our profound feelings of gratitude to Miss Bunting and the Guardian newspaper for unveiling to us the true nature of your cult and enlightening us as to the facts concerning your hidden interests.We pray that Miss Bunting may live long, serving humanity and benefiting Third World countries through her investigative journalism. May she be able to shed more light on the manoeuvrings of your cult in India. Despite all this, it is also our duty to thank you and your disciples for whatever good work you have done for us in India. All that remains now is for us to part peacefully. We pray that the Buddha may bless you and your disciples, bestowing truthfulness and reason upon you, that you might act humanely with Indian Buddhists. Yours in the Dhamma