enlightens students about Buddhism
By Mellani Lubuag
Assistant News Editor
In celebration of the fifth annual South Asia Day, students and faculty gathered
in the Karl Anatol Center for a special presentation by the Rev. Maitipe Wimalasara
The free event, hosted by the South Asia committee, a sub-committee of the International
Education committee, was an opportunity for students to learn about South Asia
and Buddhism’s history, philosophy, symbolism and contemporary relevance.
Organizers said they hoped the day’s event would facilitate greater knowledge
and understanding of the South
Asian region at Cal State Long Beach and throughout
the local community.
The South Asian region is growing in global influence on various fronts and has
long been the seat of many ancient religions,” said Christine Suniti Bhat,
assistant professor of educational psychology. “So, that was the reason
we thought that
this year’s theme should focus on religion.”
The topic this year was Art, Architecture and Culture of South Asia, with Special
Reference to Buddhism, and was presented by Wimalasara, of the Dharma Vijaya
Buddhist Vihara temple in Los Angeles.
Draped in a yellow and orange monk’s robe, Wimalasara stood before students
and faculty and spoke about South Asian history and religion. He said among the
religions of the world, India has given birth to four major beliefs — Hinduism,
Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism.
When we carefully examine South Asian art, architecture and culture, it becomes
evident that diverse religions have strongly influenced every aspect
of life,” Wimalasara said, adding culture in the subcontinent is based
on Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. “This
unity in the religious diversity is amazing.”
Answering a question from the crowd, Wimalasara said though Buddhism, which was
founded in India by Siddhartha Gautama 2,550 years ago, may seem non-existent
in India today, it actually is not.
Who can claim they’re Buddhist?” Wimalasara asked, adding nowhere
in the canons will one find the word “Buddhist.”
Buddha never wanted to convert somebody from one religion to another religion
label him as a ‘Buddhist.’
Wimalasara said Buddha only shows the path and one must decide whether it is
fit for him or her. Wimalasara also said he thought many people, though they
may not call themselves Buddhists, follow Buddha’s teachings. Without knowing
it, people follow Buddha’s five precepts, which are refraining from killing,
stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lies and intoxication.
As long as one follows the five precepts, we can say that he is practicing the
preaching of the Buddha,” Wimalasara said.
Associated Students Inc. President-elect Shefali Mistry said she enjoyed the
event because of her interest in Buddhism. Other students, like senior international
and sociology student Hayaka Kudo, said they found the presentation interesting
because she did not know much about Buddhism before then.
Co-Chairwoman of the South Asia Committee Jyotsna Pattnaik said in an e-mail
she hoped students would gain knowledge about, “Buddha’s message
of peace and harmony, and the need for interfaith dialogue at this time of growing
religious tensions around the world.”