Brit Buddhist spreads the word

by Mahafreed Irani, DNA India, October 17, 2008

Mumbai, India -- His name is Lokamitra, but the person who answers to that name is not the traditional Indian hermit. He is a blue-eyed, fair-skinned foreigner.

Like most youngsters in the 1960s, Jeremy Goody, then a 23-year-old history teacher in Britain, was desperate to know how he could channel his unruly emotions.

He decided to take up Buddhist meditation after meeting Sangharakshita, an English Buddhist who had spent 20 years in India teaching Buddha Dharma.

Lokamitra, the name given to Goody by his teacher, literally translates to friend of the people. And nearly three decades later, Goody has truly lived up to his name. He has spent 34 years in an unknown land, and travelled to remote villages to spread the message of Buddhism.

His extensive work with the Buddhists of Pune and Nagpur has also been recognised at the international level. He was awarded the prestigious Manhae Grand Prize for Peace this year.

However, despite the country’s progress, Lokamitra, feels that casteism is still prevalent in modern day India. “I was in Gujarat after the Bhuj earthquake. The dalits there were denied relief if they didn’t chant ‘Ram Ram’ and beg.”

He added that he had also seen minorities being fooled in the name of Buddhism by greedy politicians who look at them as sheer vote banks.

Lokamitra will be giving a talk on Buddhism on October 17 at the Asiatic Society.