Gems of A Thousand Sadhus!

by Kooi F Lim, The Buddhist Channel, Aug 24, 2011

Buddhist Gems Fellowship announces fund raising campaign with signature "flash and dash"

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- If you are looking for entertainment within a Buddhist establishment, you won't go wrong if you happened to take a glance at Buddhist Gem Fellowship, or BGF in short.

Founded in 1980, this 30 year old plus outfit was regarded as ground breakers in Dharma propagation within the Malaysian Buddhist scene. Their early fame was gained through an initiative to adopt hymns infused with Buddhist inspired lyrics.

This group, called "The Wayfarers" created waves of discontent with conservative elders, who were aghast to hear singing inside temple compounds. But their innovative approach resonated with the younger generation, and The Wayfarers was credited with bringing the Buddha-Dharma outside of temple walls.

With their guitars and a simple hymn book, Dharma was introduced via songs and hymns in campus halls and school compounds. Tape cassettes and later the CDs, became new forms of Dharma propagation, which effectively supplemented the traditional book as an outreach channel.

Many said that BGF created the first local "Buddhist stars", where English speaking lay singing Dharma speakers became more sought after than monks. It is no wonder then, that the "flash and dash" stigma got stuck wherever BGF leaders went, because they had the ears of the pop era generation of the late 70s and 80s.

For once, local Buddhist youths could relate to a Buddhism that reaches out to a modern generation, a forte once reserved exclusively with Christian evangelism.

But BGF was not just renowned for its use of music to spread the Buddha's message. They are also very much pioneers in introducing management camps (Incovar), effective speaking courses and counseling training. These trio of activities aimed to provide necessary skills for those who are Dharma inspired to serve the community more effectively.

And so, what holds for BGF after having served so well for the past three decades?

On August 21, 2011, BGF finally unveiled plans at a fund raising dinner to purchase its own home, a building which will cost RM 3.5 mil (US$ 1.18 mil). In his speech, BGF President Datuk Dr Victor Wee said that it is BGF's earnest wish to continue efforts in growing people, unearth new talents and to inspire individuals through its activities.

Called "Fellowship of a thousand gems", the vision of the night was just that: to remember, to reconnect and to renew. The more than 1,000 people who came for the dinner and show were were aptly feasted with BGF's signature "flash and dash", beginning with a thundering season's drum performance by SJKC Sentul. This was followed by a hilarious but Dharma scented sketch inspired by the travels of Xuan Zhang (Xi Yu Ji, or Journey to the West)

However, the real trademark of BGF was vividly crystallized through the choral rendition of "Sasanarakha", or "Guardian of the Sasana". Comprising of eight vocal parts, the "All Star Gems Performance" (featuring the combination of iGemz, MOD, D2Y, BISDS and New Era College) rendition of this song demonstrates how far local Buddhist music have come with their harmonious vocals and sophisticated coordination.

For so long BGF has been at the forefront of Buddhist human development. To have more than a thousand people coming to support their fund raising dinner shows how much local Buddhists value its contribution. Indeed, as one of the bedrock of Malaysian Buddhism, BGF remains one of the brightest glittering gems.

We pray and hope that it long remains at the forefront of fostering the true development of the Buddha Sasana for many, many generations to come.

The BGF Building fund needs to raise RM 3.5 million within 3 months (with effect from August 21, 2011). If you wish to help out, you can make a donation online. Please visit: