Written by Hem Bahadur Shakya
Former President YMBA Nepal
Founder Secretary-General –Buddhist South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Buddhist SAARC)
In 1970 AD when we were in the process of establishment of YMBA (Young Men’s Buddhist Association) at Sumangal Vihar Lalitpur, the Vietnamese Ven. Bhikkhu Khipapanyo used to teach meditation. Young people used to participate in his teaching and practice meditation with him often. He was popular among then upasakas and upasikas. Ven. Pragyananda Mahasthavir
was the oldest Theravada Monk in Nepal. He preached the dhamma
and meditation to his followers. Ven. Sumangal Mahasthavir tried
to bring Vipassana Meditation in Nepal around in 1980 AD. He used to invite senior meditation teachers to teach meditation. Once he invited the world-renowned Ven. Tamplu Sayadaw of Myanmar. We, a group of YMBA members, requested to have his dhamma deshana and one night’s meditation at Buddha Vihar of Bhrikuti Mandap. The Venerable Sayadaw was kind enough to give us time. Around the year of 1979 AD, Dhammavati Guruma was managing meditation retreats under different Kammata acharyas from Myanmar in Nepal. She managed to conduct retreats of Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, Ven. U. Sundar Sayadaw, Ven. U. Panditabhivansa Sayadaw and Rev. Daw Pannacari Guruma of Myanmar. There were no formal centres for meditation in this period in Nepal. The above meditation activities were done in Theravada Vihar only.
Ven. Bhikkhu Jnanpurnika Mahasthavir
Ven. Jnanpurnika Mahasthavir is a very popular Kammathanacharya from Nepal. In IBMC the earlier Nepali versions of Ven. U. Panditabhivansa Sayadaw’s Dhammadesana were translated
by him. The instruction tape is
very popular translated under his convincing voice. With his great efforts I was lucky to join the inaugural function of Milton Keynes Peace Pagoda in London founded
by the Great Nichidatsu Fuji Guruji. In 1993 AD I had a very good opportunity to work as assistant
to him in conducting Vipassana Retreat at Bodhgaya for 3 weeks
for American students of Antioch University of the USA.
Daw Pannacari Guruma
Among them Daw Pannacari Guruma conducted retreats at Pranidhipurna Vihar at Balambu. I was lucky to be able to take one retreat from 27th Aswin to 2nd Kartic in 2036 BS along with Dhamma friends like Mr. Anand Raj Shakya. That retreat was my first fully fledged entry into Vipassana meditation. I experienced a lot of things to my great satisfaction in this retreat. I took very seriously and with my full heart. Accordingly I was astonished to see some SAMADHI with which I was able to see different type of feeling on six sense doors
e.g. Ear, Eye, Nose, Tongue, Body and Mind. It seemed to me that time that I was being instructed by
some divine force on sense door one by one. I saw different type of light in sitting meditation hours even though my eyes were closed.
I did walking meditation also very carefully. The teacher Guruma was very much kind to instruct and to give clear demonstration of walking meditation. She used to walk slowly and with rule along with yogis side by side to give kind attention.
Ven. U. Sundar Sayadaw
Under the guidance of Dhammavati Guruma we volunteers from YMBA worked to run retreats at Aksheswor Maha Vihar at Pulchowk in 1979
AD. Sayadaw U. Sundar from Myanmar conducted two retreats.
He was very simple and straight forward Sayadaw. He used to give good instructions and give precious Dhammadesana in Burmese language which was translated into Nepali by Dhammavati Guruma. Many yogis came from Patan to attend retreats.
Ven. U. Panditabhivansha Sayadaw YMBA conducted a Vipassana Mediation retreat under Ven. U. Panditabhivansa Sayadaw at Aksheswor Maha Vihar in 1980. Sri Chaitya Maya Shakya used to come to listen to the Dhamma discourses daily. A great Sraddha came in her mind about Dana Kusala. She talked with Mr Ananda Raj Shakya about giving eight ropanis of her land of Sankhamul for Vipassana Meditation Centre. Accordingly, the land for the International Buddhist Meditation Centre came into being. The Vipassana retreats at IBMC began in 1987 AD. Since then the Most Venerable Sayadaw began to conduct one retreat every year in the wintertime. The Inaugural Vipassana Retreat in Lumbini Panditaram International Vipassana Meditation Centre was held in 1998 February under Ven. U. Pandit Sayadaw.
Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw
The most Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw of Myanmar came to Nepal in 1981 to give Dhamma discourses and run Vipassana retreat in Lumbini. He was given a civic reception at various places of Kathmandu Valley. Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw conducted one Vipassana Retreat at Lumbini during this visit.
I was lucky to be able to participate in that retreat. All yogis that time were very much satisfied. When we listened to his sweet and musical voices at the time of Dhamma discourses on Anatta Lakhan Sutta it became more interesting and serious. My mind became very clear and cool. Even though my eyes were closed still there was clear and transparent like a vision in a peaceful and cool environment. The presence of the Most Venerable Sayadaw had created a very good environment. I felt something special during that retreat. It was very much different and meaningful. I felt very much lucky to have the chance to participate in that valuable retreat.
Ven. U. Dhammapiya Sayadaw
I used to see Ven. U. Dhammapiya Sayadaw during my regular visits
to IBMC in 1988 AD. He was kind to encourage me to do Vipassana meditation. I used to listen to his discourses. He was the first resident Kammathanacarya in IBMC. A great sraddha came into my mind when
I listened to his discourses. At that time I had in my mind that I should go seriously in IBMC afterwards. I went to Bangkok on 5th May 1988 to study in AIT. I was with Ven. U. Dhammapiya in the plane when he was returning to Myanmar. I had a chance of discussion on Vipassana with him on the plane also.
Ven. U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw
Ven. U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw was the most popular and friendly Resident Kammatthanacharya Sayadaw in IBMC from Myanmar since 1988 AD. I was lucky to have several ten days Vipassana retreats under him at IBMC. He used to give very precise, simple, effective and convincing instructions to each and every yogi.
I still remember his instruction once during my reporting time in the morning that I should concentrate with much emphasis on SMRITI. SMRITI plays the main role. We have to develop it as much as possible. He gave me instructions on the third method of Chankraman adding one step one by one in consecutive days.
I had the great privilege to talk with him daily in the morning after breakfast in the dining room. With the result of such discussion, IBMC conducted the children course in the winter vacation since 1990 which is still running. In early 1994 AD, there were U. Asabhacara Sayadaw, Anagarika Bina Guruma and meself discussing the possibility of building a Vipassana Centre in Lumbini. I proposed to him that as my father in law late Prof. Asha Ram Shakya was the Member Secretary in Lumbini Development Trust there was the possibility of getting land for the meditation centre. Immediately after discussion, U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw and I went to Prof. Asha Ram Shakya to request for the land. Prof. Asha Ram Shakya was very glad about the proposal. He said there was provision for two meditation centres at the Eternal Flame site of the Lumbini Master Plan. He said that there was the possibility of getting one for us. He said he had to discuss about this in the Lumbini Development Trust meeting. I was very glad to note that the Most Venerable Ovadacariya Sayadaw U. Panditabhivansa also had talked about this with Prof. Asha Ram Shakya when he visited him in Myanmar earlier. Shortly afterwards he informed us that the request for the land had been accepted. Formal procedures went on for this. On June 30, 1995, there was a contract signing between U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw, the then Minister of Culture Mr Modnath Prashrit and the then Vice-Chairman of Lumbini Development Trust Ven. Ashwoghosh Mahasthabir. Shortly afterwards U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw and I went to Lumbini to see the site. We were very glad to step into the proposed land. Firstly it was a rectangular area with 160 meters by 120 meters.
It was very exciting. We were very glad to measure. There was no measuring tape with us at that time. The Sayadaw had one umbrella measuring about 3 feet. We used this umbrella to measure the approximate length of the area. In course of time the shape was changed by the Lumbini Development Trust. U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw and I went to Lumbini several times for different purposes. Shortly afterwards U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw went to the USA. He stayed there for several months. I wrote many emails to him. He asked me to take care of the land. I had to contact the Lumbini Development Trust several times for this purpose. I used to see Mr. Lok Darshan Bajracharya and Mr. Pratap Khatri there. The LDT office used to ask me about when to start construction works. Later on I wrote an email to the Most Venerable Sayadaw U. Panditabhivansa about the delay at the start of the construction. He was with Ven. U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw in the USA that time. Ven. U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw communicated with him regarding the delay of the beginning of construction works. They were concerned about this. Ven. U. Aasabhacara Sayadaw returned to Nepal soon and began to do construction works shortly afterwards. He laboured very hard in construction works. With his constant monitoring construction works took shape shortly.