Bhadanta Pragyanand - The last surviving Sri Lankan monk who converted 'Baba Saheb' to Buddhism
On 14th April, when the nation is celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the chief architect of Indian Constitution, the spotlight is back on a 90-year-old monk who converted him to Buddhism.
Lucknow: On 14th April, when the nation is celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar – the chief architect of Indian Constitution, the spotlight is back on a 90-year-old monk who converted him to Buddhism.
Bhadanta Pragyanand, the 90-year-old Buddhist monk who is bed-ridden, is the only surviving monk among the seven priests who witnessed the spiritual makeover of Dr Ambedkar on October 14, 1956.
On that day, the iconic Dalit leader had embraced Buddhism at the historic Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur.
Pragyanand, who hails from Sri Lanka, is the senior-most priest at Buddh Vihar in Lucknow's Risaldar Park, which was visited by Ambedkar twice during his lifetime.
As per report in the Times of India, Baba Saheb decided to embrace Buddhism only after he visited Buddh Vihar in Lucknow.
Bhadanta Pragyanand, who mostly remains confined to his bed, communicates using sign language and sometimes pens his thoughts.
But the mere mention of Dr Ambedkar bring sparkle in his eyes and gives him enough strength to express his thoughts about the iconic Dalit leader..
"I assisted Bhadant Chandramani Mahathero who formally inducted Babasaheb Ambedkar into Buddhism. Ambedkar's wife Savita was also present," Pragyanand was quoted as saying.
"If Mhow in MP is the janmabhoomi (place of birth) of Babasheb, and Nagpur is his Deekshabhoomi, then Lucknow was certainly the snehbhoomi (a place close to his heart)."
Before turning to Buddhism, Babasaheb had visited Lucknow twice, in 1948 and 1951.
Bhadant Bodhanand of Buddh Mandir, Risaldar Park, was to induct Babasaheb into Buddhism on October 14, 1956, at Deekshabhoomi. However, due to his untimely death, other monks conducted the ritual, Pragyanand informed.