“Janos Orsos comes from a very poor gypsy settlement; Tibor Derdák is a teacher who has long worked among gypsy communities. He first became interested in Buddhism towards the end of the Communist era, having seen a book about a Hungarian expedition to Tibet, full of stunning pictures.
Visiting a cousin in Paris, Tibor came across a book about India’s Dalits (formerly known as ‘Untouchable’) and Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the great leader of their mass movement of conversion to Buddhism. He immediately saw the connection between them and the gypsies with whom he worked.
Together Janos and Tibor set up a school in a gypsy village where no one had graduated from high school.
It was at this point that I encountered them, via a listing in the magazine of the umbrella organisation, the Hungarian Buddhist Church. Visiting in 2005, I invited them to India to see the Ambedkarite movement and Triratna’s work.
Tibor and Janos attended a Triratna retreat in Nagpur for 5,000 people. For Janos this was a revelation! He saw the power of Buddhism to transform the lives of marginalised communities very similar to his own. Determined to bring about the same Dhamma revolution in their own country, he and Tibor immediately set up Hungary’s Jai Bhim Network. (“Jai Bhim” is a common greeting among Dr Ambedkar’s followers, meaning, simply, ‘Victory to Bhimrao’.”)
It became difficult for Tibor and Janos to continue with the school they had founded in conjunction with the Hungarian Buddhist Church. They believed, with Dr Ambedkar, that organisations for gypsies should be run by gypsies. They therefore set up their own school in northern Hungary, where almost all gypsies are unemployed and hardly any have schooling.
They have worked closely with Triratna, initially mainly through my twice yearly visits to Hungary, but also with other visitors, and by making further trips, to India and the UK.
My third travel companion, Laszlo Glonczi (better known as Kubu), has spent almost a year studying in Britain, staying at a Triratna community near the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. There are now eight Hungarian mitras including one woman - Aniko, Janos’ sister - who has stayed at a women’s community near the London Buddhist Centre and attended a retreat at Taraloka.”