Community Support Activities in Buddhagaya
The Most Rev. Tatsuko Sugiyama, the founder of Daijokyo, practiced the teachings of the Lotus Sutra in her quest to relieve sufferers in the real world, through such social activities as caring for leprosy patients, providing moral education for juvenile deliquents, helping disaster victims and supporting needy people. In following the Most Rev. Sugiyama, Daijokyo believers regard Buddhagaya and its poor neighborhood as our "dojo (a place of learning and practicing the teaching)" for embodying the teachings of the Most Rev. Sugiyama in the modern world. In and outside Daijokyo Buddhist Temple we engage in various supportive activities for the sake of a better life for the local people.
Daijokyo Vocational School, founded in 1985 on the Daijokyo Buddhist Temple premises, offers typewriting and machine-sewing courses for local youth in Buddhagaya. Bihar, the state in which Buddhagaya is located, is one of the poorest regions in India, with the persistent problem of job shortages among young people. Daijokyo therefore provides a learning place for young people, who have few educational opportunities, and helps them gain stable jobs by obtaining qualification.
The typewriting course gives six-month training in English and Hindi. The machine-sewing course is designed for girls, for the term of one year. Both courses require no tuition; the School even supplies fabrics and other materials for the machine-sewing course students. Students must take a certification exam upon completion; only those who pass are granted a diploma. This strict certification system of Daijokyo Vocational School, well known in such local cities as Gaya, is an advantage in finding employment; students work hard and earnestly at their daily training.
Class at Daijokyo Vocational School
Daijokyo Health Care Centre was established in 2000 in Sujata village (which Hindus call Bakrour village), near Daijokyo Buddhist Temple. The village was named after Sujata, a village girl who offered milk rice to Prince Siddhartha, emaciated after six years of austerity. Prince Siddhartha gathered strength by eating the milk rice, and finally achieved Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. In a sense, it is no exaggeration to say that Sujata is a benefactor of all Buddhists. In fact there is a small shrine in the village to commemorate her offering of milk rice to Prince Siddhartha.
In contrast, people living in Sujata village today are too poor to get enough medicine. We at Daijokyo therefore feel that, although we cannot directly repay Sujata for the kindness she extended to Buddha some 2,500 years ago, we can at least reciprocate her favor, on Buddha’s behalf, by providing the villagers of present-day Sujata with medicines free of charge. We now engage in free medicine distribution twice a week in Sujata village; moreover, in the autumn of 2006 we introduced a car dedicated to this purpose and opened the “Mobile Distribution Centre” in Itawa village.
In 1988, Daijokyo donated an elementary school to Miyabigha village in Buddhagaya. In Miyabigha, a particularly poor area of Buddhagaya, the former educational environment for children was far from satisfactory. Consequently, to meet the local needs, Daijokyo decided to build a school called “Ananda Dvidya Peth.” “Ananda,” the name of one of the Ten Great Disciples of Buddha, also means the joy and pleasure of children in playing and learning. Along with the phrase “Dvidya Peth,” an Indian archaism for “school,” the name of the facility reads "Ananda School” in English. Daijokyo still supports Ananda School for its smooth operation, sending some staff members of our Temple as full-time teachers.
Class at Ananda School