Triratna News

Jai Bhim! The Roma Buddhists of Hungary

On Fri, 23 September, 2016 - 11:57
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Munisha

Mokshapriya is a British film-maker, founder in 1992 of Clear Vision, Triratna’s video project in Manchester, UK. Here’s the video he made recently about the Dr Ambedkar High School, founded by Hungarian mitras for Hungary’s Roma/gypsy community, inspired by Dr BR Ambedkar and the achievements of India’s ‘New Buddhists’.

“My first visit to Hungary took me far from the delights of Buda and Pest to an even greater wonder, in the rural north east of the country. Here, a bright blue village school building proudly displays a fine bronze bust of the great Indian social reformer and Buddhist Dr BR Ambedkar.

Ten years ago, Hungarian mitras, mostly from the gypsy or Roma community, established the Jai Bhim Network, a Triratna-affiliated organisation with Subhuti as its kalyana mitra, or spiritual friend.

They have focused on providing educational opportunities for gypsies, young and old, who have not succeeded in the Hungarian education system, either because of poor teaching, outright discrimination or lack of supportive conditions in gypsy settlements. They have established the Dr Ambedkar High School in one of the poorest and most backward regions of Hungary, where the local governments are dominated by extreme right-wing racists and where unemployment amongst gypsies runs to more than 90%. 

Their inspiration is Dr Ambedkar’s vision of social change through the practice and propagation of the Dharma/Dhamma. The similarities between the condition of central and eastern European gypsy communities and those of India’s Dalits, or ‘depressed classes’, is striking.

On the school walls are countless images of Dr Ambedkar, alongside brightly-painted key phrases of his, such as ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity’ and ‘Agitate, educate, organise’.

The students are finding for the first time the opportunity and interest to learn, many of them coming in their teens with very limited ability even to read and write. Whereas many had not even completed primary school when they first came to the school, quite a number now graduate from high school. Some even go on to university.

As we approach the 60th anniversary of Dr Ambedkar’s great mass conversion ceremony in Nagpur on 14th October 1956, here is a fascinating glimpse of just one inspiring consequence of that extraordinary event.”

See the trailer for the longer documentary on this same topic now launching across Europe: ‘Angry Buddha’.

+Follow Clear Vision on The Buddhist Centre Online.

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