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Prabuddha Bharat Conference: The Social Relevance of Buddhism

Date: 25-26 Oct 2012
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar wanted to reconstruct society and create conditions for the development of a true democracy. The foundations of democracy are liberty, equality and fraternity, which to him were primarily ethical attitudes: in order to be effective in the political sphere, they had to be cultivated and practiced in the individual and social spheres.

In this conference, through talks and discussion, we explored the implications of liberty, equality and fraternity, as Buddhist ethical attitudes, from the following perspectives:

1.      Creating Democracy
Babasaheb was convinced that Buddhism could make a significant contribution to the establishment of democracy in India. In this section we explored the contributions that Buddhism and Buddhists, especially those inspired by Babasaheb, can make in this respect.

2.      Individual Empowerment
How does Buddhist practice strengthen us as individuals, not in a selfish sense, but enabling us to contribute more effectively to the creation of a better world? This is the principle behind the Paramitas, the practice of a Bodhisattva, which was emphasised by Babasaheb  in the 22 Vows and the Buddha and His Dhamma.

3.      Social Reconstruction
Many people are contributing to the implementation of  Babasaheb’s great vision for society, but to what extent are they able to reconstruct their own work and immediate social lives in accordance with that vision? While many sincerely want to “walk the talk”, there are many difficulties and confusions in the way. In this section we explored the basic Buddhist principles of social reconstruction in the light of our own experience of work.

Lokamitra gave the key note talk. Other speakers included:  Mangesh Dahiwale (who organised the conference), Professor Aloysius. Dhammachari Maitriveer Nagarjuna (Prof Santosh Raut), Ven. Vinayarakkhita, Ven Sangharatna Mankhe, Gautama Prabhu, Abhaya, Dhammachari Maitreyanath, and Vidyabushan Raut. About 150 people attended from different parts of India.