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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
followed, I spent much of my time with the ex-untouchable Buddhists of Nagpur, Bombay [Mumbai], Poona [Pune], Jabalpur, and Ahmedabad, as well as with those who lived in the small towns and villages of central and western India. I learned to admire their cheerfulness, their friendliness, their intelligence, and their loyalty to the memory of their great emancipator.” Returning to Britain, where he founded the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO), now called the Triratna Buddhist Community, Sangharakshita kept thinking about the Dalit Buddhists and his friends in India. He encouraged a young disciple, Dhammachari Lokamitra, to visit India and work with the Ambedkarite Buddhists. Lokamitra is a tall, solid, and youthful- looking Englishman with an easy laugh and a quick mind. His energy at sixty-two hints at a kind of wildness tempered by years of dharma practice. He lives with his family in a modest house in the Ambedkar Colony settlement in Pune. Since 1978, he has helped to build a movement, Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana (TBMSG), the Indian wing of FWBO, and a variety of related social organizations, all of which aimed to develop a new Indian or Ambedkarite Buddhism, fusing dharma practice and social action. Lokamitra came to India in 1977 to study yoga with B.S. Iyengar in Pune. He decided to break up the long train trip from Kolkata by stopping over in Nagpur, and arrived by chance on the twenty-first anniversary of the day Ambedkar led the Dalits into Buddhism. As an FWBO angarika, wearing robes, he found himself on a large stage facing thousands of devotees. “In the thirty-six hours we spent in Nagpur, I entered a new world, a world of millions of the most oppressed people, Dalit children in rural Kondhanpur, near the Pune-Bangalore highway Dhammachari Lokamitra, a founding teacher of TBMSG, at home in Pune