HYDERABAD : Buddhism, the globally-spread religion, is now slowly gaining popularity among the youth of Hyderabad. Young students and employees, especially those in the information technology sector, are showing greater interest in the teachings of the Buddha.
“I do not call Buddhism a religion. It is the greatest philosophy of life which helps us achieve enlightenment through Vipassana (meditation),” says Devendar, who works for a multinational company in the city. He is a frequent visitor to the two major Buddha Viharas in the city.
Many young employees like Devendar started practising Buddhism and became active members of Yuva Buddhist Group (YBG)of Hyderabad which was founded by a city youth, Rajesh Suthari, to promote Buddhism in the city.
YBG organises various activities to reach out to the local youth and teach them Buddhism. Its members also guide those who want to learn more about Buddhism. Two major Buddhist temples in the city, Ananda Buddha Vihara Trust at Mahendra Hills and Siddhartha Buddha Vihara Trust at New Bowenpally, both in Secunderabad, are now the new weekend destinations for many young students and employees.
The monks there teach the basic tenets of Buddhism to visitors who are not only interested in learning about the religion but also want to convert themselves to Buddhism. Both the Viharas have been witnessing a consistent growth in the number of visitors for the past few years.
However, there are very few Telugu people among the followers. Though the YBG has many active Telugu members, their number is far less when it comes to the activities at Viharas.
Citing the reason, Pragya Chouhan, a member of YBG, said, “Often their parents do not accept it. And some don’t understand the language of the monks here.” These factors are keeping them away from direct participation in our activities at Viharas, but they are very much interested in Buddha’s teachings despite their absence, she added.
Not surprisingly, a majority of the visitors to Viharas are from the north-eastern states and the western state of Maharashtra where Buddhism has a strong base. The Marathi population in the city, which is the hardcore follower of Ambedkarite Buddhism, is the major stakeholder in any activity at the two Viharas in Secunderabad.
Existing for more than two decades in the city, the Viharas are attracting even foreign visitors. Many students from countries like Burma, Nepal and Thailand, who are based in the city, visit the Viharas frequently.
“Meeting hundreds of Buddhists here is a great experience for me as I have not met a single person at my university who talked about Buddhism so far,” said Shoon Le, a student from Burma who is studying MSc (Computers) at Osmania University.
However, Buddhist monks are finding it difficult to promote the religion with the very few Bhantejis (monks) in the city. Head monks like Bhikku Khemachara, chairman of Sidharth Buddha Vihara Trust, are always busy visiting various places across the country. “It will be better if there are more Bhantejis at Viharas,” said Sangeeta, a member of Yuva Buddhist Group.