Bhadant Anand Kauslayayan was one of the three great activist Budhist scholars of the century .The other two being Dr. Ambedkar and a great Hindi writer Rahul Sankartyayan.Rahul in fact became Marxist later after having a long stint as a Budhist monk.Bhadant Anand Kauslayayan had long and close association with these two scholars .He also had association with Mahatma Gandhi and martyr Bhagat Singh, apart from being associated with freedom struggle in general. Bhadant was a prolific writer and he had more than fifty books to his credit, mosty relating to Buddhism . He had forty books in Hindi,few in English and he translated Dr. Ambedkar’s book on Buddhism in his mother tongue Punjabi.
Bhadant was born and brought up in Punjab, before moving on to various parts of the country and abroad as Buddhist monk.He finally settled down at Nagpur and for long years he lived at Diksha Bhumi, where Dr. Ambedkar adopted Buddhism in 1956,few months before his death .He planted a tree from Sri Lanka at Diksha Bhumi in seventies ,which has grown into a fully developed shadowy tree now. Bhadant had such charming personality and integrity that a Parsee family in Nagpur donated his eight and half acre land on Nagpur -Howrah highway near Kamti to Bhadant for establishing Buddhist centre.Bhadant spent last years of his life there and now a memorial is under construction at that place .
Very few people in this region are aware of the significance of this internationally renowned Buddhist scholar .Bhadant was born in Sohana village ,adjacent to Mohali,,few miles from Chandigarh .His childhood name was Harinam Das ,who was born on 5th January 1905.His father Lala Ram Sharan Dass was a school teacher at Ambala in those days.Child Harinam spent his early days in Ambala Cantt along with his younger brother Haridas.Harinam Das’s parents died in early age and they lived with their maternal uncle .
After passing matriculation in 1920,Harinam Das joined Mohindra College at Patiala,but under the influence of freedom movement and Bhai Parmanand in whose Ashram he lived for sometime, he joined National College Lahore, established by Lala Lajpat Rai.In National College ,he came in contact with revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev,etc.Bhadant graduated in 1924 at the age of nineteen years .In Lahore , he happened to listen Ramodhar Sadhu(earlier name of Rahul Sankartyayan)at.Arya Samaj temple.Later Harinam Das became active in Congress party and started working in Dalit mohallas to educate them. He started writing in Urdu papers of Lahore of those days.
In the meantime Rahul Sankartyayan had gone to Sri Lanka and became a Buddhist scholar.He invited Harinam Das to Sri Lanka and after reaching there in 1928, he got initiated into Buddhism .Harinam Das got new name as Anand Kauslyayan,Bhadant was added as honorific prefix as in Buddhist tradition .So Harinam Das became Bhadant Anand Kauslyayan .From Sri Lanka ,Bhadant went to England ,where he spent two years .Rahul was also in London .During his England stay ,Bhadant also visited Germany and France .In 1934,Bhadant went to Malaysia and for two years he stayed at Sarnath near Varanasi.
Bhadant had now became an established Hindi writer .Hindi Sahitya Sammelan ,Allahabad published his books –Jatak and Dhammped etc. Later in Mahatma Gandhi Ashram at Wardha in Maharashtra, Bhadant became general secretary of Rashtarbhasha Prachar Samiti and stayed there for ten years .In this period he took long travels to propagate Hindustani language as propounded by Mahatma Gandhi as lingua franca of the country.
In 1952,Bhadant moved to Kalingpong .this very year he went to Japan to attend World Buddhist Conference.He visited Thailand ,Indonesia ,Kampuchia and Singapore .and later Burma.After 35 years of leaving his birthplace ,Bhadant visited his younger brother Haridas who was posted in Budhlada mandi near Bhatinda.He visited Faridkot,Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur,Patiala and Ambala.where he saw his childhood home.Bhadant came into contact with Dr.Ambedkar in 1950 and remained in close association with him till his death in 1956.In 1957,he went to Sri Lanka, when Prime Minister Nehru was also on a state visit there .In 1959 ,Vidyalankar University in Sri Lanka was inaugurated by Indian President Dr.Rajendar Prasad .Bhadant was invited to stay in Vice Chancellor residence of that University,where he spent next many years as Head of Hindi Deptt. After his return from Sri Lanka, he shifted to Nagpur ,where he breathed his last on 22nd June1988 at the age of 83.He was living in Baudhbhoomi,training centre for Buddhists. Dalai Lama visited Bauddhhoomi in 1985, at Bhadant,s 80th birthday.
Bhadant Anand was conferred with honorary Doctrat degrees by Hindi Sahitya Sammelan Allahabad and Nalanda Mahavihar.While functions are being held in Maharastra (Nagpur and Wardha) in his centenary year, which is being celebrated nationally ,state of his birthplace and childhood-Punjab and Haryana are yet to awake to recognize the greatness of their son.In fact there is no trace of any sign in Sohana (Punjab)or Ambala (Haryana)to acknowledge that this great son of India was born and brought up at these places.However in Bauddhbhoomi (Nagpur) a grand memorial is coming up.
* The writer is Professor in Hindi Translation at Jawaharlal Nehru University.New Delhi.