-By Kuldharma Ratna Tuladhar
The eagerness of the people of Nepal to learn Vipassana and Goenkaji’s willingness to initiate such courses in Nepal date back to the 1970s. But initially, there was some difficulty. Goenkaji held a Myanmar passport which had no endorsement for travel to Nepal. In view of this, his only option was to conduct a Vipassana course at some place in India, close to the border with Nepal. This course was held at Raxaul (in Bihar) in November 1975.
Thereafter many students from Nepal attended courses at Bodh Gaya, Varanasi, Rajgriha, Kushinagar, Ahmedabad and Igatpuri. Some of these are now serving as Senior Assistant Teachers of Goenkaji. It was not until 1978 that a concerted effort was made to organize Vipassana courses in Nepal itself. Yadukumar Siddhi and Sahu Maniharsha Jyoti met with each other at Igatpuri in one of the courses held there. Both were very eager to start Vipassana courses in Nepal. Fortunately, Goenkaji was also able by that time to secure an Indian passport, which allowed him to travel to Nepal. Both men urged Goenkaji to conduct his first course in Kathmandu in 1981. This particular course was held at Anandak Vihara. Later courses were sometimes held at other sites.
The Nepal Vipassana center, Dharma sringa (the summit of Dhamma) was founded in April 1981. It is located in the village Budhanikantha, in the foothills of the Himalayas, at the north end of the Kathmandu Valley. It is bordered on the north side by the Sivapuri Wildlife Reserve. The center has a very strong meditative atmosphere. Here ten-day courses are conducted on a regular schedule twice every month, together with periodic Satipatthana courses. Courses of longer duration, twenty and thirty days, are also being offered now as a direct result of new purpose -built infrastructure at the center. The first Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the center was Sahu Maniharsha Jyoti, whilst Yadukumar Siddhi was a Trustee. The latter donated 3.5 ropanies (0.6 hectares) of land, including a hall for thirty persons and two small cottages for residential purposes. With donations flowing from grateful students, the center has been able to construct a Dhamma hall to accommodate 150 students and living quarters for 60 male and 60 female students.
A kitchen, storeroom, dining hall, bathrooms and toilets have also been built. As a result of recent activity, the construction of a second facility at the the highest spot of the center’s compound for long courses has been taken up. According to this plan, a long course Dhamma hall with a capacity to seat 100 students has already been constructed, combined residential and meditation rooms (including cells for each student) - 18 for female and 11 for male students - have been completed. The construction work is, however, still in progress. The first course at this center was conducted in 1985, using tents for students who could not be accommodated in cottages. Since then more than 300 regular courses have been offered, providing benefit to nearly 20,000 students.
Goenkaji has also been visiting the center from time to time. A total number of about 2,800 students (new and old) have benefited from courses conducted by Goenkaji himself in Nepal. The main driving force behind the establishment of Dhammasringa was Sahu Maniharsa Jyoti. He was an ideal Vipassana meditator. He passed away in January 1993 while receiving metta over the telephone from Goenkaji, who was thousands of miles away from him. Sahuji’s mission of spreading Vipassana in Nepal has since been taken over by his son, who is now serving as one of Goenkaji’s Senior Assistant Teachers. Two new centers have recently come up in Nepal. These are situated in Birganj and Lumbini, with the names ‘Dhamma Tarai’ and ‘Dhamma Janani’, respectively.
Birganj is located on the border with India (near Raxaul, Bihar), while Lumbini draws its importance from being the birthplace of the Buddha. The center at Birganj has become operational, two courses having already been held there this year. The main center at Kathmandu draws students from many other countries. Recently a special ten-day course was conducted there for a group of 18 monks and nuns from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan, in the Chinese language at their request, as they were eager to learn Vipassana in the land of the Buddha’s birth. This is how Dhamma is spreading in Nepal, at a rapid pace. May all beings Be Happy.