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Buddhist Engagements with Social Justice: A comparison between exiled Tibetan Buddhists in Dharamsala and Dalit Buddhists of Pune . Tamsin Bradley & Zara Ramsay. Overview. Focus on two Indian locations: Pune and Dharamsala (home to Dalai Lama & Tibetan refugees)

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tamsin bradley zara ramsay

Buddhist Engagements with Social Justice: A comparison between exiled Tibetan Buddhists in Dharamsalaand Dalit Buddhists of Pune.

Tamsin Bradley & Zara Ramsay

overview
Overview
  • Focus on two Indian locations: Pune and Dharamsala (home to Dalai Lama & Tibetan refugees)
  • Reasons for this comparative paper: Monolithic perceptions of religion amongst western NGO workers in India
  • Core argument:

Buddhism both shapes and is shaped by local socio-political environments; its impact on development visions/approaches must be evaluated by context

contrasts
Contrasts
  • Dharamsala:

1. Tibetans persecuted because of faith

2. Long-standing Buddhist beliefs have shaped the Tibetan response to persecution – gentle, even passive

  • Pune:

1. Ambedkarite Buddhism was created in order to tackle social injustice – vocal, potentially aggressive

buddhist principles interconnection and compassion
Buddhist principles: Interconnection and compassion
  • Individuality is an illusion
  • Spiritual liberation (nirvana) = ultimate realisation of ‘oneness’
  • Consequent rejection of human division/ stratification, linked to Buddhist focus on compassion (karuna) and loving kindness (metta)
tibetan buddhism interconnection and compassion
Tibetan Buddhism: Interconnection and compassion
  • To demand Tibetan sovereignty = assertion of inherent division between humans
  • Dalai Lama “allows the Chinese to take advantage of Tibet as long as there is some level of dignity”
ambedkarite buddhism interconnection and compassion
Ambedkarite Buddhism: Interconnection and compassion
  • Interconnection/oneness must be taught to ALL people – Dalits should demand this recognition
  • Dalits should also demand compassion from others; should expect the assistance of others in process of their development
buddhist principles karma
Buddhist principles:Karma
  • The notion that one is cosmically punished/rewarded for one’s actions, usually in one’s next incarnation
  • Has frequently been interpreted as fatalism
tibetan buddhism karma
Tibetan Buddhism:Karma
  • Fatalism? Debates have even questioned whether Tibetan Buddhists would say that Jewish people ‘deserved’ the Holocaust
  • Not entirely fatalistic; a psychological tool for acceptance/peace of mind
ambedkarite buddhism karma
Ambedkarite Buddhism:Karma
  • Rejects the multiple-birth interpretation of karma
  • Emphasises the karmic response in current lifetime
  • Encourages hope and effort for development
reasons for social justice
Reasons for social justice
  • Pune:
  • Struggle for social equality is based on desire for development. Buddhism provides a practical methodology for this.
  • Dharamsala:
  • Struggle for development is based on desire for religious and national freedom. Buddhism is the priority and the goal, as well as the methodology.
summary
Summary
  • Tibetan Buddhism and Ambedkarite Buddhism promote very different attitudes towards the struggles for social justice and development
  • Not only are the approaches to these struggles different, but the relative importance of religion vis-a-vis development is very different in each place too.