1. 𝑾𝒉𝒐 𝒊𝒔 𝑲𝒂𝒓𝒖𝒏𝒂 𝑩𝒖𝒅𝒅𝒉𝒊𝒔𝒕 𝑺𝒐𝒄𝒊𝒆𝒕𝒚 (𝑲𝑩𝑺)?
KBS is a nonprofit Buddhist organization founded by some enthusiastic Chakma elders who have migrated in late 90s to US while most of the present members came after late 2000s. Our first Chakma Buddhist monk to visit US for social activities and religious purpose was the most respected Venerable Bimal Bhante who is the main pioneer to encourage Chakma people in California to establish a Chakma Buddhist temple. Prior that, they used to visit few Buddhist monasteries nearby but felt there is something missing. Language barrier, cultural differences, made our Chakma people to think of a new place. Thus, they established an organization called “Bangladeshi CHT (Chittagong Hill Tracts) American Buddhist Association” in 2002 but then changed it to “Karuna Buddhist Society “ in 2008 to include vast general concept of Buddhism and represents common aspect of unity. “Karuna” the compassion is one of the main concept of Buddhist practices in our lifetime.
2. 𝑾𝒉𝒐 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝑪𝒉𝒂𝒌𝒎𝒂𝒔?
Chakma is an indigenous tribe native to India, Bangladesh and Myammar. They speak Indo-Aryan language of Indian based and anthropologists claim Chakmas are Mongoloid in physical features. Our ancestors believe, we are descendants of Sakya clan of Himalayan ranges who also spoke Indo-Aryan language but Mongoloid look. The tribes in Nepal and India who claim to be also the descendants Sakya clan still speak Indo Aryan language. It’s said that, Chakma/Sakma migrated to upper Burma via Kamarupa (present Assam), Manipur from Himalayan ranges in early 5th-6th century to Burma and settled there. But again, due to invasion from other powerful kingdom, most of them were pushed back to the present Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh in 15th-16th CE and its neighbors states of India.
At present, Chakmas in India are living in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, and West Bengal. Chakmas in Bangladesh are living mostly in Chittagong Hill Tracts (Rangamati, Khagrachari, and Banderban). In Myanmar, they live in Rakhine state.
Being minority, we always had to face religious and racial discrimination. You can search such news, just google “Discrimination with Chakmas” or “Genocides in CHT”. Therefore, we always concern about our future existence. Our Chakma language is listed as an endangered language in South Asia. Having Chakma script, own literature, own history, own culture but still we are about to lose them due to various issues we face.
𝟑. 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐤𝐦𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐔𝐒𝐀.
There are about 300-350 Chakma individuals including adults and children in US. Most of them settled in San Bernardino county, California, the largest county of US. Rest, settled in New York, Michigan and Boston. We have only 40-50 adults and same number of children too. In 2008, some lay people bought an abandoned property on a half acre land with a tiny 663 sf house. It took few years to clean all the messes and turn the unsuitable land to a moderate land. In 2011, with great achievement, a well educated and trained Chakma monk Venerable Upagupta Bhante was invited to be abbot of the KBS temple while he was studying in Hong Kong University. He obtained his MA in Buddhist philosophy from Hong Kong university and BA in Pali from Peradeniya university of Sri Lanka. Since 2011, effortlessly with hard works, Venerable Upagupta did lean the rough land and planted trees around. But, there is always shortcomings and lacking in the place. More than 4-5 people can’t sit comfortably in the house. Only one bathroom. And also devotees were struggling of their new life in US. Therefore, they always felt the need of new spacious property.
𝟒. 𝐊𝐁𝐒 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞.
Karuna Buddhist Society has only 30-40 regular members financially supporting the Temple and its maintenance. Even though, total children and adults might be over a hundred individuals. At the very beginning, they monthly donated $20 and then $40 and now regular monthly donation is $50. From those few of them donate $70. This is how the KBS temple pays its monthly utility bills and other maintenance. The present property of a 663 sf house on a half acre land was bought in 2008 with $65,000. Our generous devotees paid it off already.
With tiny population, we can’t raise enough fund to think of building a new house or purchasing a new property. So we have been fundraising for almost 8-10 years with little savings whenever possible. And also, we couldn’t give all the necessary facilities and accommodations for the community and outside of the community. We had no space to sit group meditation or do any Dhamma classes.
𝟓. 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐰𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐲.
Venerable Upagupta, took all those challenges and obstacles since 2011 by providing spiritual guidance to the young children and adults. He faced lots of troubles and barriers but he is a kind hearted soul with huge tolerance and patience. He bore all those challenges and still continued to teach Dhamma for the second Chakma generation and elder community in USA. He taught Buddhism, reciting Pali prayers, meditation with his vast experience and knowledge. But still we felt that lack of space and felt that congested environment surround us.
Supporting the community and the temple, not only the children but also the adults will be immensely benefitted to learn and practice Buddhism. Without people’s generosity, Buddhism won’t exist.
Venerable Upagupta Bhante, the abbot of Sakya Metta Buddhist Vihara and also the spiritual instructor of Karuna Buddhist Society, has been serving the community for almost 10 years since 2011. Since then, we all have been through so many challenges and obstacles. Because of his presence with the community, we have learned and transformed ourselves into a developing Buddhist community in California. Morality, generosity, unity, compassion, communal harmony are always important to improve the society. Within this 2020 years, almost all the KBS families own a house now. Meantime, we also purchased this property by paying 16%-17% of the main price and have to pay it off for next 30 years. We will have to pay $2800-$3000 monthly with monthly mortgage and other utility bills.
It’s everyone’s dream and wish to purchase a new spacious property for not only Californian Chakma Buddhist people but also for the world Buddhist practitioners and learners. The property which was bought in 2008, has a tiny house of 663 sf and it took a decade to transform it to the present look. It was bushy, rocky, hard soil but still became a spiritual shelter after Venerable Upagupta Bhante's arrival. For a tiny community like us is impossible to think to build a new temple. Our organization is a nonprofit organization and not qualified to get a loan. Therefore, only thing we can do is purchasing a new property with a personal loan and we did it. But we need all of your love, kindness, generosity and support.
𝟔. 𝐖𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭:
Dear, kind and generous hearted people! We need your constant love and support to keep this property alive and pay it off in new 15-20 years. Keeping this property alive means you are helping to spread Dhamma, the Doctrine of Buddha. Supporting this new Buddhist monastery means you are saving an endangered tribe, endangered language, endangered culture and tradition. Supporting this Buddhist monastery means you are helping to build a moral and compassionate generation for this world. With your support and donation, not only we can give a place to practice Dhamma but also it will be your spiritual home whenever you visit us. This is your spiritual home where you can meet your spiritual family members from different background. We can sit together for meditation, Dhamma discussion, cultural events, religious events and any of your life special occasions.
Please donate any amount . It could be your one coffee price or one hair cut price or one meal price or one shirt/pant price.
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(A non-profit American Theravada Buddhist organization founded in 2002 in California, USA and established "Sakya Metta Buddhist Vihara & Meditation Center" in 2008.)
New Temple To Be of KBS from 2021
KARUNA BUDDHIST SOCIETY
Sakya Metta Buddhist Vihara