When a Million Buddhist Dalits Come to Town

By Greg Snyder
Nagpur, India, October 11th, 2016
During Fall Break, Cláudio Carvalhaes, Associate Professor of Worship, and Greg Snyder, Senior Director of Buddhist Studies traveled to Nagpur, India for The Social Engagement and Liberation conference, hosted by the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Both Cláudio and Greg will be reflecting on their experience on the Union website. To read Greg’s second post, please click here. 
To read Cláudio post, please click here.  
In between events we are sitting in a small room off the main path of Nagaloka in Nagpur, India, where thousands of pilgrims continually stream through the gate to pay respects to the Buddha and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Elders, children, entire families and communities of Dalit converts, many wearing the white of Buddhist lay practitioners, visit the 60-foot golden image of the walking Buddha, who Ambedkar wanted to be portrayed with eyes open stepping forward to end suffering in the world. From behind this towering, radiant image the Buddha’s robes lift swiftly in his wake, as if one is witnessing the first determined step of his certain mission. After making offerings at the feet of the Buddha, pilgrims excitedly make their way to the life-size, garlanded bronze statue of Ambedkar who is portrayed with a cane in his hand, to do the same.
Amid the week’s celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar’s mass conversion here in Nagpur, we are taking part in a conference held by the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), entitled Social Engagement and Liberation.


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