The FWBO in India

The FWBO is called Triloka Bauddha Maha Sangha or TBMSG in India. Since about 1979, the FWBO has been trying to extend its influence over the movement of New Buddhists started by Dr Ambedkar in India in 1956.

Dr Ambedkar was born into an untouchable caste Indian family, but gained an education and rose to become Indian Law Minister. He is considered the architect of the Indian Constitution, and is something of a hero to the ex-untouchables, or Dalits as they prefer to be called nowadays. Although the caste system is officially illegal under the Indian constitution, old habits die hard, and shortly before his death in 1956, Dr Ambedkar converted from Hinduism to Buddhism, partly because Buddhism does not have a caste system, and because he saw Buddhist philosophy as offering a better model for the social and spiritual emancipation of the Dalits. Many of Ambedkar’s supporters followed his lead, and the movement of Ambedkarites or New Buddhists now totals around 9 million in India, mostly in Maharashtra. The FWBO/TBMSG comprises only a very small proportion of this total, but they have been growing.

As outlined in the section Dr Ambedkar and the Untouchables in The FWBO Files, Sangharakshita has been trying to pass himself off as the close confidante and advisor of Dr Ambedkar, although the extent of his actual contact with Ambedkar, if any, remains unclear. The FWBO/TBMSG had been having some success in presenting themselves as guardians of Dr Ambedkar’s ‘Dhamma revolution’, but the publication of the Guardian article and The FWBO Files have had a significant impact on the FWBO’s operations in India. The Guardian article was reprinted in The Sunday Times of India, and the Files have been accessed through the internet, and have been translated into Hindi and Marathi.

The status of a monk is highly revered in India, and Indian FWBO/TBMSG members are particularly concerned about Sangharakshita having continued to wear monk’s robes when visiting India, while still engaging in homosexual ‘experimentation’ in the West, as he has admitted in the Guardian article and elsewhere. They are concerned about the secrecy and deception this has entailed, and also about possible misuse of some of the funds and covenants raised by the FWBO’s ‘Aid for India’ and ‘Karuna Trust’ charities.

As in the UK, the FWBO/TBMSG has been trying to minimise the damage, but 80 or more Indian order members and mitras have resigned or been expelled, and there have been demonstrations, and public burnings of Sangharakshita’s photograph.

Vimalakirti and Bakul's expulsions (2,200 words)
A letter from Subhuti, announcing the expulsion of Vimalakirti and Bakul. In the second paragraph of his letter, Subhuti writes:

'Bhante [Sangharakshita] wrote a letter to Vimalakirti, dated 6th August, a copy of which is appended, telling him that he no longer recognises him as a member of the Order. He wrote another letter, appended hereto, handing on to me his remaining responsibilities for the Order in India, especially for deciding whether or not someone was still a member of the Order. I wrote to Bakul on 14th August, telling him I no longer recognised him as an Order member and to Bodhidharma on 13th, telling him that, unless I heard from him shortly saying he did want to continue as an Order member, he would be considered to have excluded himself. He did [not] contact me, so he is suspended from participation in all order activities until we are able to resolve various issues.'

Sangharakshita, and latterly the people like Subhuti to whom he has handed on his responsibilities, have the power to expel order members who criticise them or their activities. For details of how this control over order membership gives Sangharakshita and his appointees legal control over the FWBO and its assets, see The FWBO as Business

Bakul's letter protesting against his expulsion (1,400 words)
A letter from Dharmachari Bakul (Dharmachari = order member), protesting against his and Vimilakirti’s expulsion. Bakul was the first Indian order member, and is also a qualified Advocate (Barrister) in India.

Resignation letter from 88 Indian FWBO members (800 words)
A letter from 88 FWBO/TBMSG order members and mitras from the Mumbai (Bombay) area, setting out the reasons why they have decided to resign.