Editorials by Sangharakshita

 
 

Annus Mirabilis - The Year of Wonders

This editorial first appeared in The Maha Bodhi, December 1956.

Sixty-five years have passed since Anagarika Dharmapala founded what was then known as the Bodh-Gaya Maha Bodhi Society, thus inaugurating the great movement for the revival of Buddhism in the land of its birth. Searching the rolls of the Society's history, we find that almost every one of these five-and-sixty years is distinguished by some great achievement or other, some forward step by means of which we were brought a little nearer to our goal. But never, we feel, was any single year so filled with events of far-reaching significance, with what promise to be enduring solid achievements, as that which has just passed over our heads; never has the pace of our advance been so rapid; never before was it possible to do so much in so short a time.

Three events of 1956 stand out as being of very special importance and significance. First, of course, there was the inauguration, in May, of the celebrations held to commemorate the 2500th Anniversary of the Parinirvana of the Lord Buddha. These celebrations, which were sponsored by the Government of India, reached their climax in New Delhi last month, and even now have by no means exhausted their momentum. They will, in fact, continue until next May. Second, on October 14th the great Scheduled Caste leader, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, embraced Buddhism at Nagpur along with half a million followers. Third, as though to bless all that had been accomplished this year, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama arrived at the end of November in New Delhi, whence, after participating in the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations, they have gone on pilgrimage to the holy places. These events, together with a multitude of hardly less important associated events, have undoubtedly made a deep impression on the minds of at least the thinking section of the Indian public. Buddhism, they now realize, has become a factor to be reckoned with in Indian affairs. Indeed it is by no means devoid even of global significance. There are people in India who feel uncomfortable in the presence of such facts. Some of them have attempted to stem the rising tide of Buddhism. But their efforts have met with no success. Doubtless the historians of the future will aver that the year 1956 marks the real emergence of Buddhism as a spiritual, cultural and social force in India. If that be so, this year may indeed be described as 'The Year of Wonders'.