Venerable Sangarakshita brought together young hippies in England in 1960’s. By training and ordaining youngster Trirantna Bauddha Mahasangha started to flourish. Triratna started in India in 1978. Dhammachari Lokmitra, Padmavajra, Vajraketu, Padmashuri, Veerbhadra were all in their early or late 20’s when they started Buddhist movement in India. They travelled all the way from England and took difficult living conditions in India as a challenge. When we see the big expands of Triratna Bauddha Mahasangha in India, its credit goes to these then youngsters.
If we go back into the Buddhist history right at the time of Siddarth Gautama, the Buddha, himself started his search for meaning and purpose of life in much earlier age. People he trained after enlightenment like Yasha and others were in their early twenties and some even below.
In India since 1978 many young people cultivated themselves into better and better and responsible human beings, through Dhamma trainings offered in Triratna. In 2006, there was a small attempt by some youngsters who organized a youth retreat and invited Dhammachari Subhuti to lead it. 130 people participated. 20 amongst them decided in that retreat that we need a sharing platform that would take care of needs of young people. We need to create a structure and consistently maintain it to benefit young generation on much larger scale. They don’t know what it would be like and what is needed to be done to create such a structure. Yet they wanted to do something and therefore decided to come together every month after that event and keep thinking and take some small steps in the direction we wanted to go.
For the first year ie 2007 it was an organization without name, they did not need to rush to give it a name. This group kept coming for a day or two every month. They studied something together, went through sometimes hot, sometimes confused and directionless discussions. Yet something definitely came out of their efforts. First thing they wanted was to organize another event with even bigger numbers with better arrangements and with a planning for better outcomes. This task itself gave them an opportunity to work as a harmonious team, bring out our own talents and to bring out more than what they can out of themselves. This whole phenomena gave us a clue that this process itself is a way to cultivate young man or a woman.
In 2007 they were very successful in bringing together 700 young boys and girls at Huen Tsang retreat centre. Tried their best to offer them what they could, tried to learn through consulting them as to what kind of organization we need. After this event more people joined. Monthly meetings were larger. Funds raised. Started offering smaller trainings for 20-30 peoples between two National Conventions. Trained themselves to lead workshops or events that would be helpful for young people for their growth in whatever way possible.
In the course of this work we realized that Dr Ambedkar’s vision of Indian society and the advice he gave to follow the Buddha’s teaching to his followers are very essential in the overall growth of any young Indian. We decided to explore this further. This is what we are still doing and we think that there is still more we need to explore.
In Triratna Bauddha Mahasangha, Dhammachari Subhuti had been our guide consistently. He led our first retreat (2006) where all these ideas of new organization germinated. His exposition of Dhamma and significance of Dr Ambedkar’s vision for the world was the most important factor that brought us together. He led the first NNBY convention in 2007. Since then he lead many conventions and guided the leadership of NNBY. Without his support NNBY could have not existed.
NNBY is born in the context of Triratna Bauddha Mahasangha. Ven. Urgen Sangharakshita’s presentation of the Dhamma and practices are at the core of our existence. Sangha members are always there to teach, guide and help us. Many youngster have been inspired to deepen their going for refuge to Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and become members of Triratna Bauddha Sangha.
By the mid 2007 all of us came for a conclusion that out of few suggested titles, National Network of Buddhist Youth, would be a name we would like to keep. In 2014 we are still known by this name. Buddhist youth is not a religious or sectarian name, for us it is an identity of young people in India who wants to unite by going beyond various caste identities. To leave behind the old caste identity we need some positive identity in its place. For us Buddhist youth is an identity to go beyond fractured, fraction, separating or discriminating identities of caste and sub caste that we carry everywhere in India. It is clear to us going beyond caste identity is not a matter of concern only for people from lower caste or so called Dalit background, but it is a matter of concern for every Indian youth who wishes to live as an individual in new Indian society.
‘Network’ is for us a free association of individuals and groups who stands and support of each other without any obligation. Network’ diffuses the possibilities of any kind of central authority that would dictates the organization. What leads the network is an organically grown leadership within the network. Organically grown leadership means individuals who are widely respected and trusted by various groups and individuals come together in friendships and make collective efforts to protect togetherness and cultivate sharing and growth with its ease and joy kept intact.
Going beyond identity and cultivation of organic leadership are very tough targets, in fact they are continuous processes. Individuals who keep themselves in this processes can know and experience what it means. What we can say is beautiful and satisfying experience for any man or woman to go through in their lives. This came from our Buddhist studies and practices. That’s why practice of Buddhist meditation and study are central matters of various trainings we continuously keep going through.
After 2007 convention our enthusiasm was again boosted. We tried to keep working hard to keep ourselves together as a team and to keep growing by connecting with more and more youngsters. During this period a very important financial help came from ‘GROWTH FUND’ which was fund offered by ‘WINDHORSE TRADING CORPORATION’, England. Windhorse is run by order members and mitras of Triratna Bauddha Mahasangha. This fund kept us supporting for three years continuously. NNBY will always be grateful for this contribution from Windhorse. Their help is invaluable in the very crucial formation period of NNBY.
In 2010 ‘GROWTH FUND’ was not available since world economic recession affected Windhorse and also their contribution to support us for our growth was also completed. We approached Karuna Trust who decided to support us for next three years from 2011 to 13.