Ladakh, a place that is on everybody’s bucket list. Not only to visit Rancho’s school or the Pangong lake where the final scene of the film 3 Idiots was shot but also for the spiritual enlightenment, it has been blessed with. This is why Bhikkhu Sanghasena, Founder of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre in Ladakh, has decided to create awareness about growing violence with a pad yatra (pilgrimage on foot) for world peace in this Himalayan region.
This is the fourth consecutive year for the month-long yatra by nearly 200 monks and nuns from Thailand. It began on May 25 from Dharamshala and will conclude in Leh with a three-day international conference on world peace and the protection of Himalayan heritage. “World peace is the need of the hour,” says Sanghasena. “In the current global scenario, we are facing terrorism, war and violence in various forms, and we can’t be just mere spectators.”
Sanghasena wants to send the message of peace and harmony from Ladakh, the place that stands true to these two elements. So, during a conversation with his counterparts in Thailand, who have been doing pad yatras to propagate world peace, Sanghasena invited them to do the same in the Himalayas. He feels, “We need to pray not just for ourselves but for the world. We can’t expect to be happy in our region or country if the rest of the world is in despair.”
Growing differences in the name of religion, nationality and race, is the main cause of the violence across the globe, believes Sanghasena. “People are unable to comprehend that fundamentally all religions are the same. That all humans are born and brought up under the sun, drink the same water, and at the end, we all will die. So, where is the difference? Our ignorance creates this difference. This walk is to remind everyone that we belong to one global family.”
He goes on to describe all religions as different flowers, and nations as different gardens. “We are sending a message of maha karuna – the great compassion and non-violence, teachings of Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, from the top of the Himalayans. I hope it will be more effective than having conferences in big cities, and that tourists who are in Ladakh will take this message with them to their countries.”
Another conversation the yatra stirs is that about pollution in tourist populated places choking the Himalayas. “Most of the population here depends on tourism as the main source of income. While we want tourism to flourish, we stand against the Himalayas being polluted and endangering its eco-system. With this walk and closing conference, we are putting emphasis on sustainable and responsible tourism,” says he, singing off.