BHIKKU Sanghasena — a monk who refused to confine himself to a monastic life — has set out to transform the lives of girls in Ladakh.
He has been setting up schools and hostels for the welfare of girls from underprivileged backgrounds who intend to pursue their education and become self sufficient in life. As a young man, Sanghasena had joined the Army. But his spirituality clashed with the rigid demands of military life. He left the Army in the search of a life which was more harmonious and sacred.
Sanghasena — who was born amid poverty at Tingmosgang — a remote village in Ladakh — knew for sure that education could transform the lives of people. He realised that poor people needed shelter, food, clothing and medicines not religious philosophy. Moreover, religion also preaches welfare and happiness of people and he would be following the religious tenets if he could ensure good education for children in Ladakh — especially the girls.
In 1986, he set up the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre in Leh and six years later, he laid the foundation stone at Choglamsar for setting up Devachan — a school to provide free education to children.
Sanghasena did not have any idea where the funds would flow in from for setting up the school. People mocked at him since he planned to set up an institute with literally nothing to invest. He put his ideas down on paper, prepared a simple booklet and told people about his idea. He was optimistic that people would support him for a noble cause.
Help to him came from an unexpected quarter. A Swiss man purchased him an air ticket to Thailand where Sanghasena wanted to meet a monk for his project. From Thailand, he visited Taiwan. He spoke about Mahabodhi wherever he went. Individuals donated about one dollar or less and the project took off.
Back home, he travelled to remote areas in Ladakh including Chang Thang and Zanskar to persuade villagers to send their girls to school. People were reluctant since traditionally the role of women in Ladakh was restricted to being a mother and housewife.
Gradually everything changed and Devachan — a school in an abandoned barren land — shaped up as a high school. Sanghasena soon realised that the girls should get higher education to keep pace with the world. He started helping girls to pursue education at several colleges and professional institutions all over India, especially Chandigarh Recently, he set up Padmaloka — a girls hostel at Ramgarh near Chandigarh. The girls from Ladakh get free food and accommodation at the hostel and a bus service that transports them to their educational institutions and back every day.
Sanghasena has also raised a cultural troupe to preserve the culture and tradition of Ladakh.
Among his other initiatives are a home for the aged and destitute, a charitable hospital, and a school for visually impaired children. He also initiated an adult women literacy programme in Ladakh.
However, for Sanghasena, all this is only a “ humble beginning.” The change in the lives of about 1000 girls so far would spark a chain reaction for people’s prosperity in Ladakh. One hopes that his dream is realised some day.
Source: Mail Today