South Asian Buddhist Conference

Invitation For South Asian Buddhist Conference 18-20 October 2018

The Revival of Buddhism in India and its impact on Buddhist Dynamics in South Asia.

Nagarjuna Institute, Nagpur 18th -20th  October 2018.

The 21st Century is becoming known as the Asian century, the time when the centre of influence in the world moves to Asia.  Buddhism is at the heart of much of Asian culture and has the capacity to influence the way it develops. Even though it died out in India, the land of its birth, over 700 years ago, Buddhism is now reviving in a remarkable manner, in a way that can contribute to peace and harmony in Asia. In order to do so, these developments in India need to link up with positive developments in Buddhism in other parts of Asia. This conference is an attempt to aid this process, starting with South Asia.

Buddhism returned to India dramatically in October 1956, with the conversion of Dr. Ambedkar and 500,000 followers, mostly from the so-called Untouchable communities. Despite having suffered from extreme structural violence, Dr. Ambedkar was never attracted to the path of violence but to the peaceful transformation of society. He concluded this was only possible through following the teaching of the Buddha. Now there are an estimated 50 plus million Buddhists in India, the great majority inspired by Dr. Ambedkar. The new Buddhist movement is young but its growth, vitality and potential is staggering; it is not unreasonable to envisage there being 300 million or more Buddhists in India within the next 50-100 years.   The new conversion movement has changed the religious and social landscape of India more than anything else since the Buddha and Ashoka, and it is going to continue doing so. It is a peaceful, egalitarian and grass roots’ movement, which is already having a considerable influence on Indian society and politics. It will eventually have a considerable impact on other Asian societies at a time when Asia is taking the lead in the world. The first objective of this conference is to make known the character and potential of this movement.

The second objective is to understand something of the present situation and positive initiatives for peaceful social development in Buddhism in the societies with the greatest interaction with India. In Sri Lanka, many developments have been taking place since Bodhisattva Anagarika Dharmapala brought about renewed vigour in the practice of the Buddha Dharma.  Given its cultural and geographical proximity, the new Indian Buddhist movement is especially receptive to Sri Lankan Buddhism.

The glorious Chinese Buddhist traditions are going through a period of remarkable creative growth, as they engage with the modern world, inspired by great reformers such as Ven Master Tai-xu.  Buddhism is increasingly appreciated as a positive social and cultural influence, as well as a harmonising influence for the whole of Asia. Every year more and more Chinese pilgrims visit the Indian Buddhist Holy Places and soon they will constitute the largest number of pilgrims. While Chinese Buddhism has developed in a different culture than Indian Buddhism, its energy and creativity have much to contribute to the new Indian Buddhist Movement.

Anagarika Dharmapala, Ven Master Tai-xu and Dr. Ambedkar were all convinced that Buddhism could make a significant and peaceful contribution to development in the modern world. Given this, the third objective is to explore ways to develop communication and partnerships to strengthen Buddhist values to contribute to a progressive and harmonious Asia.

The conference will take place at the Nagarjuna Institute, in Nagpur. The inauguration ceremony will take place with a large public programme on the morning of 18th October, the anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion. The main part of the seminar will take place on 19th and 20th. The languages of the conference will be English and Chinese.

Ven Master Ren Da (Abbot Boshan Zhengjue Monastery, Shandong, China) has kindly agreed to inaugurate the conference.

Ven Master Chong Hua (Abbot, Chong Sheng Temple, Dali, China) Ven Athuraliye Rathana Thero (M.P.,  Sri Lanka), and Prof. Sukhdev Thorat (one of the most distinguished Dalit academics) have kindly agreed to give key note speeches.

On the evening of 18th October, being the anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion,  we will take our guests to visit the place where this took place, and where sometimes one million people gather on this day.

The Nagarjuna Institute will look after the food, accommodation and local travel of all participants from the moment they arrive in Nagpur until the moment they leave. There will be no charges for the conference, however our funds are very limited (we have no sponsors at yet), and so we request participants to consider making a donation where possible.

Speakers and participants are requested to arrive on 17th October and depart not earlier than the evening of 20th  October.

For more information, please contact

Online registration mandatory:
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The Program 

This is the programme to date and developments will be added as and when they are finalized:

18th Ashok Vijaya Dashmi

Morning programme:

  • Formal inauguration of conference.
  • Ven Master Ren Da (China) has kindly agreed to inaugurate the conference along with special guests
  • Ven Master Chong Hua (Abbot, Chong Sheng Temple, Dali, China).
  • Ven Athuraliye Rathana Thero (M.P.,  Sri Lanka).
  • Prof. Sukhdev Thorat (Distinguished Professor, Savitribai Phule University, Pune and  Managing Trustee, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi).
  • Dr. Hsiang Chou Yo, (advisor to Nagarjuna Inst and Executive Member WFB).
  • Harsha Navaratne (Founder Chairman, Sevalanka, Sri Lanka). 


  • Visit to Diksha Bhumi

19th  Morning

  • 9.00 am Chanting and Introduction  
  • Key note speeches
  • Ven Chong Hua
  • 10.15 Tea
  • 10.30
    • Ven Ratana Thero
    • Prof Sukhdev Thorat 
  • 12.00 lunch
  • 14.00 India- The significance of Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism, its growth, impact and potential.
    1. Prof Mahesh Deokar. Head of Pali Department, Savitribai Phule University, Pune: –The significance of Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion in the revival of Buddhism in India .
    2. Dhammachari Maitriveer Nagarjuna (Prof Santosh Raut), Hon Director Nagarjuna Inst.:- The  dynamics of the Ambedkarite Buddhist movement.
    3. Mangesh Dahiwale, Executive Director, Centre For Dalit Studies, Hyderabad, Buddhist Scholar:- The place and significance of the Dhamma in Dr. Ambedkar’s work, the significance of his approach to the Dhamma for India (democracy), and for Asia (social justice)
    4. Prof S. R. Bodhi, Tata Inst of Social Sciences, Mumbai:- How the Scheduled Tribes are becoming influenced by Dr. Ambedkar and Buddhism, and the possible outcomes of that.
    5. Chair –  Prof Sudhaka, Hyderabad University
  • 15.30 Tea
  • 15.45 The work of Nagarjuna Institute.
    • To demonstrate very fast all India growth
    • Different communities involved
    • Potential impact on India and Asia
  • Sushant – The Importance of Nagaloka
  • Arun – Kerala and the flood.
  • Manish –  Buddha Gaya
  • Sangeeta –  UP/Shakya
  • Sangeeta – Chattisgarh
  • Divya – the Nagaloka association
  • If time, Questions and answers: Chair Mangesh Dahiwale
  • 18.30 Dinner
  • 19.30 Indian Classical music – local Indian Buddhists


20th  Morning

  • 9.00 am China- Tradition, present situation, and initiatives in Buddhism in China today, especially looking at social impact and/or impact or potential impact on Asia
  • Ven Ren Da, Abbot Boshan Zhengjue Monastery, Shandong.
  • Prof Jia Du Quiang, National Institute of International Strategy; Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Dr. Hsiang Chou Yo, Executive Member, WFB; Advisor Nagarjuna Inst.
  • Raymond Lam, Senior Writer, Buddhistdoor Global.
  • Dongdong Yu, Ananda Foundation, Hangzhou.
  • Chair; Ven Miao Hai
  • 10.30 tea
  • 10.45 Sri Lanka – Tradition, present situation, and initiatives in Buddhism in Sri Lanka today, especially looking at social impact and/or impact or potential impact on Asia
    1. Harsha Navaratne, Founder –chairman, Sevalanka.
    2. Ven Balagonda Manjushri – Sevalanka
    3. Muttu Kumara, Director, Prajashakti Project, Sr Lanka
  • Nepal : Rem Bahadur B K, President, Jagaran Media Centre, Kathmandu
  • 12.00 lunch 
  • 14.00 Panel discussion Explore ways to develop communication and partnerships to strengthen Buddhist values to contribute to a progressive and harmonious Asia.  Scope for questions from audience:
    1. Ven Chong Hua
    2. Ven Ratana Thero
    3. Lokamitra and others.
  • 15.30 Tea
  • 15.45 Concluding ceremony