City Buddhist centre caught in feud

by Harita Shah, Daily Buzz, June 19, 2010

Secunderabad, India -- The government-supported Ananda Buddha Vihara, a noted Buddhist centre in Secunderabad, is caught in a murky feud between the chief monk and the founder trustees that is paralysing Vihara activities.

Things took a serious turn when some of the trustees led by the chief monk, Sangharakshita, lodged a complaint with the police against the founder trustee and former director-general of police, Mr C. Anjaneya Reddy, and other trustees, accusing them of threatening him and trust members who support him. Mr Reddy had questioned the manner in which Sangharakshita functioned and lodged a complaint with the endowments department seeking a thorough probe.

Mr Reddy and six other trustees also complained to the director-general of police, Mr R.R. Girish Kumar, against Sangharakshita, accusing him of “corrupt and indecent conduct.” Sangharakshita has petitioned the Chief Minister, home minister, the DGP and others, accusing Mr Anjaneya Reddy and others of harassing him and his trustees besides trying to “grab the Vihara.”

Ananda Buddha Vihara, a public charitable trust, was allotted three acres of prime government land at Mahendra Hills at a nominal price and a grant of Rs 1 crore in 1994 to establish the Buddhist institution, which was completed in 2003. The institution with 21 trustees was consecrated by the Dalai Lama.

It was established to propagate Buddha Vachana, to revive the Boudh dharma, and be a comprehensive Buddhist cultural and charitable institution. The then chairman of the AP Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC), Mr Anjaneya Reddy, played a leading role in setting up the Vihara with aid from the state and Central governments and local donors.

In his complaint to the DGP, Mr Reddy accused Sangharakshita of molesting a Buddhist nun last year. In the complaint to the endowments commissioner, Mr Reddy alleged that the chief monk, contrary to the avowed objectives of the trust, was selling Buddhist literature received free from Taiwan in gross violation of the instructions of donors; that many donations, particularly cash donations, were unaccounted; no charitable work is being carried out; and Sangharakshita runs a pocket organisation called Buddha Light International and gets funds from their headquarters in Taiwan.

The complaint also alleged that two local Telugu-speaking monks, Ven Vinayarakshita and Ven Sasanarakshita, were insulted and forced to leave the Vihara by the chairman and secretary, and that statutory notice of 15 days for trust meetings was not given.

Sangharakshita denies the charges. “All the allegations are false. I am ready to face any probe.” He also said Buddhist institutions do not come under the purview of endowments department.