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VEN. LAMA LOBZANG
Ven. Lama Lobzang was born in 1931, at Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir state of India. Early in his younger days he had intensive training in Buddhist monastic life, both in Theravada and Mahayana and attained higher ordination in Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse, Tibet, in 1952 which is the traditional seat of Panchen Lamas. To fulfill this religious, spiritual and academic quest he walked to Tibet via then kingdom of Sikkim surviving on the goodwill and charity of the people along the way.
It is only in the mid 80s that the cold mountain desert region of Ladakh was opened to the outside world and its people that endured long cut- off existence from the rest of the country began to access modern institutions of elementary and higher learning. Enduring the hardships of his own life Ven. Lama Lobzang had the foresight to envision that way to elevate the people of Ladakh out of their isolated existence and take stride with the rest of the country treads through education. His vision led to the founding of Vishesh Kendriya Vidyalaya also known as Special Central School and more popularly by its acronym VKV on 1st April 1971 as residential school. The school housed students from the border areas ranging from Ladakh to Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh to Manipur and provided free and quality education with scholarship to the children hitherto at disadvantage due to geographical inaccessibility and lack of development in their respective regions. From its early humble beginnings at Ladakh Baudha Vihara situated on the banks of River Yamuna in Delhi it shifted to Janak Puri, New Delhi with single section in each class from VI to XII. The school later shifted to its current new campus at Kamla Nehru Nagar Ghaziabad in 1984. Almost a generation of people from the border regions especially in Ladakh shares this common bond of having studied in VKV at some point of time in their life. It is the light of education that emanated from VKV that continue to glow bright in the form of successful achievers in all walks of life from leading political luminaries to scholars, diplomats, top bureaucrats, officers in armed forces, civil and police administrators, doctors, entrepreneurs etc.
He was also founding General Secretary of Ladakh Bauddha Vihara, Delhi from 1963-86 that served as the link to the people of Ladakh and Himalayan region with the rest of the country providing a home away from home for the pilgrims, students, travelers, patients in the capital city. It also served as the focal point of religious activities to the Buddhists from the Himalayan region in the city and hosted many religious luminaries from HH the Dalai Lama to HH the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa to exalted leaders of the country from Late Prime Minister Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi to many foreign dignitaries.
His efforts towards empowerment, social and economic uplift of SC, ST and other weaker and marginalized sections of the country saw him being appointed as Member of the High Power Panel on Minorities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Weaker Sections, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, from 1980-1983. After the establishment of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (NCSC&ST), replacing the High Power Panel, Ven. Lama Lobzang was inducted as Member, (non-statutory) and served in the capacity from its founding year of 1984 to 1992. His unique contribution in the early days of the Commission were two padayatras (trek) , one for 37 days from Delhi to Lucknow, covering 10 districts and a distance of 740 kms and the other for 14 days from Nasik to Pune, covering 3 districts and a distance of 280 kms. The padayatras enabled the Commission to have a direct and first hand assessment of the programmes for alleviating poverty among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. After amendment of Article 338 of the Constitution of India the President of India appointed him as Member of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (NCSC&ST) that was now made a Constitutional body, from October 1995 to 1998 and again from 1998 to 2001. After the bifurcation of NCSC&ST he was appointed as Member of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, by Government of India and served in the capacity from 2 March 2004 to 1 March 2007.
Asoka Mission, at Mehrauli, New Delhi, is another premier Buddhist institution of Delhi with which Ven. Lama Lobzang has been associated with from its inception in early 50s. Asoka Mission was founded by the eminent Cambodian monk Ven. Dharmavara Mahathera in 1948 to promote friendly relations, understanding and peace amongst men through education, health care, social and religious services and economic uplift. It had received high ranking dignitaries like HH the Dalai Lama, HH the Panchen Lama, Prince Norodom Sinhanouk of Cambodia, HH Sangharaja of Laos, Fuji Guruji of Japan, HH Gamboja Hambo Lama of Mongolia, former President KR Narayanan of India and many others. The Bodhi tree planted by Former Prime Minister of Myanmar, U Nu on the mission premises in 1953 continues to provide its ever expanding benign shade to humanity and refuge to countless birds and small animals. After Ven. Dharmavara Mahathera left for USA in 1975 Asoka Mission was reorganized with Ven. Lama Lobzang as President who started several new activities and revitalized it. It has been organizing meditation camps and retreats, (including those by foreign monks) from time to time. It is presently concentrating on providing a firm foundation to its research wing, Centre for Studies in Transnational Buddhism& Civilizations. It is engaged in research on Education in Ancient Asia of which the Global Buddhist Congregation, the current conference is an offshoot. Before this conference, The Meaning of SriNalanda, held in April 28th to 30th, 2003 was the first international conference the Mission conducted. The Mission is also engaged in two other projects, viz., the Himalayan Research Centre for High Altitude Diseases, and the Asoka Mission Health Care Centre, New Delhi- A lifeline for Ladakh.
Ven. Lama Lobzang also served as Vice-President, Mahabodhi Society of India, Vice-President, World Buddhist Sangha Council with headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, Vice-President, World Buddhist Supreme Tathagata Followers based in Seoul, South Korea and President, India-Nepal Human Development and Friendship Association, New Delhi.
For over four decades, Ven Lama Lobzang, and zeal has been single handedly spearheading a mission dedicated to the medical and health related activities in the Himalayan Region reaching out to the patients in the remotest of the places especially in the high –altitude areas of Ladakh.
Driven by Buddhist compassion he has been doing an extraordinary service to the poor and suffering people of Ladakh and the entire Himalayan region for the last many years by organising medical camps at Leh & also Kargil annually and sometimes twice a year. These camps are organised with the assistance of renowned specialist doctors of the country from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, which has been extending very valuable cooperation to him in this great humanitarian service. Surgeries have been carried out successfully in diverse fields in circumstances not quite conducive to advanced surgeries and thousands of patients suffering from various types of diseases have received free outdoor treatment and best medical attention in these medical camps thereby saved from incurring expenditure on travel and treatment at Delhi.
Lamaji, as he is affectionately known in Delhi, has also been helping thousands of patients, irrespective of whoever community and place they may belong to, over the years by personally taking them to AIIMS and also to other hospitals like Dr. R.M.L. Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital every single day while in Delhi and arranging best possible treatment for them both indoor and outdoor. A good number of patients from Ladakh and other Himalayan regions are indebted to him for saving their lives with the cooperation and goodwill of the hospital authorities and specialists.
His contribution towards fostering religious harmony, global understanding, promotion of Buddhist values, preservation of culture and traditional knowledge has been well acknowledged all over the world and since early 50s have been invited to attend and speak at almost all the major Buddhist and inter- religious forums and conferences. He is well travelled and has visited Tibet, Australia, Austria, Germany, Malaysia, South Korea, Holland, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, UK, Belgium, Hong Kong, Nepal, Switzerland USA, Bhutan, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, USSR, France, Kenya, Singapore, Thailand.
Ven Lama Lobzang has attended several historic and important International Conferences all over the world some of which are:
1. Sixth Buddhist Synod, Rangoon, 1954
Ven Lama Lobzang has organized several National and International Conferences some of which are:
1. Inter-University Seminar, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, 1974
He has been doing a unique service to the poor and suffering people of Ladakh and the entire Himalayan region for the last many years by organising medical camps at Leh once a year and sometimes twice a year with the assistance of renowned specialists belonging to different disciplines. They have been mostly drawn from AIIMS which has been extending very valuable cooperation to him in this great humanitarian service by treating these specialists on duty in Ladakh. Various surgeries have been carried out successfully in diverse fields in circumstances not quite conducive to advanced surgeries. Besides thousands of patients suffering from various types of diseases have received free outdoor treatment in these medical camps. Thus, all these indoor and outdoor patients were saved from incurring expenditure on travel and treatment at Delhi and were privileged to receive the best medical attention
He has been similarly helping thousands of patients over the years by personally taking them to AIIMS and also to other hospitals like Dr. R.M.L. Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital every single day while in Delhi and arranging best possible treatment for them both indoor and ·outdoor. A good number of patients from Ladakh and other Himalayan regions are indebted to him for saving their lives with the cooperation and goodwill of the hospital authorities and specialists. This single selfless service and contribution of Lamaji are significant enough to elicit undiluted appreciation
Social and economic uplift of SC, ST and other weaker sections
1. Member, High Power Panel on Minorities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Weaker Sections, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 1980-1983
2. Member, (non-statutory) National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Ministry of Home Affairs/Welfare, Government of India, 1984-1992. A unique contribution of his were two padayatras, one for 37 days from Delhi to Lucknow, covering 10 districts and a distance of 740 kms. and the other for 14 days from Nasik to Pune, covering 3 districts and a distance of 280 kms. The padayatras enabled the Commission to have a direct and first hand assessment of the programmes for alleviating poverty among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
3. After amendment of Article 338 of the Constitution of India the President of India appointed him a Member of the (Constitutional) National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from October 1995 to 1998 and again from 1998 to 2001
4. Member, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Government of India, from 2 March 2004 to 1 March 2007
5. Vice President, Mahabodhi Society of India
6. Vice President, World Buddhist Sangha Council, Headquarters Taipei, Taiwan
7. Vice President, World Buddhist Supreme Tathagatha Followers, Headquaters, Seoul, Korea
8. President, India Nepal Human Developments & Friendship Association