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330 LESSON 29 07 2011 FREE Dhotaka manava puccha Dhotaka s Questions ONLINE eNālandā Research and Practice UNIVERSITY and BUDDHIST GOOD NEW Sletter to VOTE for BSP ELEPHANT to attain Ultimate Bliss-Through Sakyans (Untouchables) in Business- PraBuddha Bharath Buddhism Reborn Among the Sakyans Untouchables
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330 LESSON 29 07 2011 Dhotaka manava puccha Dhotaka s
FREE ONLINE eNālandā Research and
attain Ultimate Bliss-Through Sakyans (Untouchables) in Business- PraBuddha Bharath
Buddhism Reborn Among the Sakyans Untouchables

Dhotaka-manava-puccha: Dhotaka’s Questions

translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

© 1994–2011


I ask you, O Blessed One. Please tell me. I hope for your
words, Great Seer. Having heard your pronouncement, I’ll train for my own


In that case, be ardent — astute & mindful right
here. Then, having heard my pronouncement, train for your own Unbinding.


I see in the world of beings divine & human, a
brahman who lives possessing nothing. I pay homage to him the All-around Eye.
From my doubts, O Sakyan, release me!


No one in the world, Dhotaka, can I release from
doubting. But knowing the most excellent Dhamma, you will cross over the


Teach with compassion, O brahman, the Dhamma of seclusion
so that I may know — so that I, unafflicted as space, may live right here,
independent, at peace.


I will teach you peace — in the here & now, not
quoted words — knowing which, living mindfully, you’ll go beyond entanglement
in the world.


And I relish, Great Seer, that peace supreme, knowing
which, living mindfully, I’ll go beyond entanglement in the world.


Whatever you’re alert to, above, below, across, in
between: knowing it as a bond in the world, don’t create craving for becoming
or non-.


Craving for becoming and non-becoming (or dis-becoming) are the two most
subtle forms of craving that lead to continued existence — and suffering — in
the round of birth & death.

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“He shows inconceivable, benevolent, and compassionate divine power to
help and protect the suffering.” “At that time, the World-Honored One
raised his golden arms and touched the head of Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha,
Mahasattva. Then he said, “Kishitigarbha, Kishitigarbha, your divine power
is inconceivable. Your benevolent and compassionate heart is inconceivable.
Your wisdom is inconceivable. Your eloquence is inconceivable. Thousands or millions
of aeons is not enough time for the Buddhas from the Ten Directions to explain
and praise your inconceivable qualities. Kishitigarbha, Kishitigarbha, remember
what I speak of today in Trayastrimsa Heaven - where thousands, millions and
billions of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, heavenly beings, dragons and the others
gather together. I request you to help those beings in heavens and worlds who
are suffering. Do not allow them to fall into the evil level even for a single
day and night, or fall into the five endless hells and Arbi Hell and suffer
hardships for thousands, millions or billions of aeons.” “the
heavenly beings, dragons, ghosts or gods now and in the future who hear
Kishitigarbha’s name, worship Kishitigarbha’s image or know of Kishitigarbha’s
accomplishments, and praise, gaze at and worship him can obtain seven benefits:
1. They will soon ascend to the sage’s land. 2. Their evil karma will be
eliminated. 3. All Buddhas will protect them. 4. They will never regress from
Bodhi. 5. Their natural powers will increase. 6. They will know their past
lives. 7. They will ultimately realize Buddhahood.” buddhism, buddhist,

Sakyans (Untouchables) in Business:

Self-Employed Sakyans
in PraBuddha Bharath

The chief aim and objective shall be
to work as a revolutionary social and economic movement of change with a view
to realise, in practical terms, the supreme principles of universal justice,
liberty, equality and fraternity enunciated in the Constitution of PraBuddha
Bharath, to be followed by State in governance, and in particular summed up in
the following extract from the Preamble of the Constitution.

PEOPLE OF PRABUDDHA BHARATH, having solemnly resolved to constitute PraBuddha
Bharath into a SOVEREIGN SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its
Justice, social, economic and
Liberty of thought, expression,
belief, faith and worship;
Equality of status and
opportunity; and promote among them all
Fraternity assuring the dignity
of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;”

It shall regard its ideology as a
movement for ending exploitation of the weaker sections and suppression of the
deprived through social and economic change in keeping with the above stated
chief aim, and its political activity and participation in governance as an
instrument of furthering such a movement and bringing in such a change

This being the chief aim, the
strategy in public affairs will be governed by the following general

1. That all citizens of PraBuddha
Bharath being equal before law are entitled to be treated as equal in true
sense and in all matters and all walks of life, and where equality does not
exist it has to be fostered and where equality is denied it has to be upheld
and fought for.

2. That the full, free, uninhibited
and unimpeded development of each individual is a basic human right and State
is an instrument for promoting and realising such development;

3. That the rights of all citizens of
PraBuddha Bharath as enshrined in the Constitution of  PraBuddha Bharath and subject to such
restrictions as are set out in the Constitution, have to be upheld at all costs
and under all circumstances;

4. That the provisions of the
Constitution requiring the State at Center and in States to promote with
special care and protect the socio-economic interests of the weaker sections of
the society denied to them for centuries, have to upheld and given practical
shape in public affairs as a matter of prime most priority.

5. That economic disparities and the
wide gaps between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ must not be allowed to
override the political principle of “one man, one vote, one value”
adopted by our republic.

6. That unless political empowerment
is secured for the economically deprived masses they will not be able to free
themselves from the shackles of economic and social dependence and

In particular and without prejudice
to the generality of the aims stated above the Party will work specially
towards the following objectives:

1. The Sakyans, the
other Backward Castes, and the minorities, are the most oppressed and exploited
people. Keeping in mind their large numbers, such a set of people is known as
Self-Employed Sakyans in PraBuddha Bharath

. Shall organise these masses.

2. Shall work for these down trodden
masses to-
a. to remove their backwardness;

b. to fight against their
oppression and exploitation;
c. to improve their status in
society and public life;
d. to improve their living
conditions in day to day life;

2. The social structure of PraBuddha
Bharath is based on inequalities created by caste system and the movement  shall be geared towards changing the social
system and rebuild it on the basis of equality and human values. All those who
join the with the commitment to co-operate in this movement of social change
shall be ingratiated into the fold.

Towards the furtherance of the above
noted aims and objectives the organisational units as designated in this
constitution, shall be empowered to:-
1. purchase, take on lease or otherwise acquire, and maintain, moveable or immovable
property and invest and deal with monies in such a manner as may from time to
time be determined;

2. Raise money with or without
security for carrying out any of the aims and objectives;

3. To do all other lawful things and
acts as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of any of the aforesaid
aims and objectives.


Dharm Pal is a 49 year old Sakyan Scheduled Caste (SC)
businessman from the local Chamar community of Haryana. Born in Madana
Kalan village in the Jhajjar district of Haryana, he lives

with his four children, wife and parents at Samalkha, Panipat.
Three children are

studying and the eldest son is helping him in business. His
father, who was an

agricultural labourer, and educated up to the primary school, a
very hard working

person has been a source of motivation..


Dharampal has Master’s degree and has worked in a nationalized
bank for nearly 12

years. He took voluntary retirement 15 years back and started
his own business as

a brick supplier and over the years diversified his business.
Today, he can be

counted among successful businessmen. He owns a restaurant, a
shopping complex,

a milk agency and also works as a property dealer in the town.
Apart from his

eldest son who works with him, he has recruited a staff of 25
persons in different



He recollects his journey when his father was given 2 acres of
land under the

Land Reforms Act by the state government. While the land was
officially allotted

to them, it was not easy to get possession over the land. He
helped his father in

dealing with the local authorities and finally decided to sell
the land and move to

Samalkha. This was the turning point of his life. Remembering
the scooter which

he purchased in 1986, he became a brick kiln supplier and
eventually bought a

brick kiln. At one point of time, he claimed, he was the largest
supplier of bricks,

supplying from 22 brick kilns to different parts of Haryana. He
thought of moving

to another business which could be more sustainable and cost
effective and this

was how he started his hotel Mehul, named after his youngest
son. All this way, he

did not get support of any kind from any source and sees to be a

person. It was only after his property and details and his
influence that he could

take loans from Banks.


Dharampal is well aware of his caste identity and wishes for
upward mobility. He

has been an active member of several SC/ST organizations.
Lately, he has become

politically active and is an important member of the state unit
of Bahujan Samaj

Party (BSP). But for effective and successful politics, he
states that, “we need to

align with the dominant castes as we cannot go very far on our
own and our

community is very weak without resources”. He believes that
education helped

him succeed in life. He wants to serve the SC/ST community since
they are continued

to be treated badly in society. Reservations and Quotas helped
them but things

have become difficult with the changing economic scenario. The

needs to do more for SC/STs. Though there are financial schemes
for them, but

those do not benefit them much. The banks have been given powers
to have their

own parameters and they have the authority to reject
applications for loans using

their own subjective criteria. Even when the loans are given to
SC/STs, the amount

is very small. Even for procuring those loans they have to
invariably bribe the


Ambedkar’s Children:
PraBuddha Bharath Buddhism Reborn Among the Sakyans Untouchables


Sakyans Practicing

South India

Iyothee Thass

In 1890, Pandit C. Ayodhya Dasa
(1845–1914), better known as
, founded the Sakya Buddhist
Society (also known as the Indian Buddhist Association). The first president of
the Indian Buddhist Association was the German born American
Paul Carus, the author of The Gospel of Buddha

Thass, a Tamil Siddha physician, was
the pioneer of the
Tamil Untouchables
movement. He argued that Tamil Untouchables were originally Buddhists. He led a
delegation of prominent Untouchables to
Henry Steel Olcott and asked for his help in the reestablishment of “Tamil
.” Olcott helped Thass
to visit Sri Lanka, where he received
diksha from Bhikkhu Sumangala Nayake. After returning to
India, Thass established the Sakya Buddhist Society in
Madras with branches in many places including Karnataka.[5] Thass established a weekly magazine called
Oru Paisa Tamizhan (”One Paisa Tamilian”) in Chennai in 1907,
which served as a newsletter linking all the new branches of the Sakya Buddhist
Society. The magazine discussed traditions and practices of Tamil Buddhism, new
developments in the Buddhist world, and the Indian subcontinent’s history from
the Buddhist point of view.

Bhagya Reddy Verma (Madari Bagaiah), a Untouchable leader of Andhra
, was also fascinated by
Buddhism and promoted its adoption among the Untouchables.

Iyothee Thass

Iyothee Thass

A portrait
of Iyothee Thass


May 20, 1845
Nilgiris district


British Indian

Other names



Siddha physician

Known for

Dalit Buddhist movement


P.Lakshmi Narasu, Appadurai,M.Singaravelu

Iyothee Thass or Pandit C. Ayodhya Dasa (Tamil:
அயோத்தி தாசர்) (May 20, 1845–1914)
was a practitioner of Siddha medicine who is regarded as a pioneer of the Dravidian Movement.

 Early life

Iyothee Thass was born Kathavarayan
on May 20, 1845
[1] in a Sakyan (Paraiyar) family from Coimbatore district.[2] His grandfather worked for Lord Arlington[1] and little Kathavarayan
profitted immensely from this association. Soon, he became an expert on Tamil
literature, philosophy and indigenous medicine and could speak Tamil, English,
Sanskrit and Pali.

Assumption of leadership of Sakyans

In the 1870s, Iyothee Thass organized
Todas and other tribes of the Nilgiri
into a formidable force.[1] In 1876, Thass established the
Advaidananda Sabha and launched a magazine called Dravida Pandian in
collaboration with Rev. John Rathinam.

In 1886, Thass issued a revolutionary
declaration that Sakyan (untouchables) were
not Hindus.
[1] Following this declaration, he established
the Dravida Mahajana Sabha in 1891.
[1] During the 1891 census, he urged
Untouchables to register themselves as “casteless Dravidians” instead
of identifying themselves as Hindus.

Conversion to Buddhism

Iyothee Thass met Colonel H. S. Olcott with his followers and expressed a sincere desire to convert to
[1] According to Thass, the Sakyans (Paraiyars) of Tamilakam
were originally Buddhists
[2] and owned the land which had later been
robbed from them by
aryan invaders.[3] With Olcott’s help, Thass was able to
Ceylon and obtain diksha from the Sinhalese Buddhist monk Bikkhu
Sumangala Nayake.
[1] On returning, Thass established the Sakya
Buddhist Society in
Madras with branches
all over
South India. The
Sakya Buddhist Society was also known as the Indian Buddhist Association.
[4] and was established in the year 1898.[5]

Political activism and later life

On June 19, 1907, Iyothee Thass
launched a Tamil newspaper called Oru Paisa Tamizhan or One Paise
[4] In his later days, he was a vehement
criticizer of Brahmins.

Iyothee Thass died in 1914 at the age
of 69.


Iyothee Thass remains the first
recognized anti-Brahmin leader of the Madras Presidency. In many ways,
Dravidar Kazhagam, Dr. Ambedkar, Udit Raj and Thirumavalavan are inheritors of his legacy. He was also
the first notable sakyan leader to embrace Buddhism.

However, Iyothee Thass was largely
forgotten until recent times when the Dalit Sahitya Academy, a publishing house
owned by Sakyan
 Ezhilmalai published his writings.[4] Ezhilmalai, then the Union Health
Minister, also made a desired to name the planned National Center for Siddha
Research after the leader.
[4] However, the proposal did not come into
effect until 2005, when vehement protests by Se. Ku. Tamilarasan of the Republican
Party of India (RPI) forced the Government to take serious note of the matter

The institute for Siddha Research (National Institute of Siddha) was subsequently inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
on September 3, 2005 and named the  Sakyan leader.
[4] At its inauguration, the hospital had 120
[4] The patients were treated as per the
traditional system of
Siddha medicine.[4]


Some later critics[who?]
labeled Iyothee Thass as an
Anglophile, who was staunchly against the Indian freedom movement.[6] In the early part of the 20th century, he
indulged in vehement condemnation of the
and the nationalist press
remarking that he could “locate the power of the modern secular brahmin in
the control he wielded over public opinion.”

Tamil Buddhism

Tamil Buddhism (Tamil: தமிழ் பெளத்தம்)
refers collectively to the various schools of
Buddhism that flourished in the ancient Tamil country which is corresponding roughly to the territories of the present-day
Indian states of
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Laccadives, parts of Andhra
and some parts of Karnataka, as well as Sri Lanka and the Maldives since ancient times among Tamils. Buddhism played an enormous role in
shaping the mindset of the Tamil people, affecting their
aesthetics, politics, literature and philosophy. The Pallava prince-turned-monk Bodhidharma from 5th-6th century Tamil Nadu founded
the school of
Zen Buddhism.



The ancient Tamil Buddhist poem Manimekhalai by the poet Seethalai Saathanar is set in the town of Kaveripattanam.[1][2] Ancient ruins of a 4th-5th century
Buddhist monastery, a Buddha statue, and a Buddhapada (footprint of the Buddha)
were found in another section of the ancient city, now at


The heritage of the town is found in
the Burmese historical text of 3rd Century B.C., and gives evidences of a Budha
Vihar built by the great Ashoka.

Nagapattinam was a Buddhist centre from 4th-5thth century CE. Its
stupa dates from this era. Buddhism disappeared from this city as of an unknown
date, but was revided as of the 9th cent. CE. (H.P.Ray, The Winds of Change,
Delhi 1994, p. 142) In the 11th century CE,
, a Buddhist vihara
(monastery) was built by Javanese king Sri Vijaya Soolamanivarman with the
patronage of
Raja Raja Chola.[4] “Animangalam Copperplate” of Kulothunga
chola notes that “Kasiba Thera” [Buddhist Monk] Renovated the Buddhist temple
in 6th century AD with the help of Buddhist monks of ‘
Naga Nadu’. This ‘nagar annam vihar’ later came to
be known as ‘Nagananavihar’.Buddhism flourished until 15th century CE and the
buildings of the vihara survived until 18th century.

Jaffna peninsula, Sri Lanka

Nāka Tivu/ Nāka Nadu was the name of
the whole
Jaffna peninsula in some historical documents. There are number of Buddhist myths
associated with the interactions of people of this historical place with
Buddha.[5] The two Tamil Buddhist epics of Kundalakesi and Manimekalai describe the islet of Manipallavam
of Nāka Tivu/Nadu which is identified with the
Nainativu islet of the Jaffna peninsula.[6]


The famous ‘Vallipuram” Buddha
statue built with Dravidian sculptural traditions from
Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh (Amaravati school) was found in
excavations below the Hindu Temple. The language of the inscription is
Tamil-Prakrit, which shares several similarities with script inscriptions used
in Andhra at the time, when the Telugu
Satavahana dynasty was at the height of its power and its 17th monarch Hāla (20-24 CE) married a princess from the
[7][8] Professor Peter Shalk (University of
Uppsala), writes ” Vallipuram has very rich archaeological remains that
point at an early settlement. It was probably an emporium in the first
centuries AD. From already dated stones with which we compare this Vallipuram
statue, we can conclude that it falls in the period 3-4 century AD. During that
period, the typical Amaravati-Buddha sculpture was developed”. The Buddha
statue found here was gifted to
of Thailand
by the then British
Governor Henry Blake in 1906.

Dr. Indrapala argued for a
flourishing pre-Christian buddhist civilization in Jaffna, in agreement with
Paranavithana, and Mudliyar C. Rasanayakam, Ancient Jaffna
in an earlier work,

This place is similar to Nagapatnam where all Asian vessels used it as a
stopover point and the Buddhist and Hindu Dagobas are just a resting and
worshipping places for the sailors and international traders. Both Nagapatnam
and Vallipuram served the powerful kingdoms of China, Siam, Cambodia, Champa
(Vietnam) and Java.


A group of Dagobas situated with in close proximity of each
other at the site served as a monastery for Tamil monks and reflect the rise in
popularity of
Mahayana Buddhism amongst Jaffna Tamils and the Tamils of the ancient Tamil country in the first few centuries of the common era before the revivalism of Hinduism amongst the population.[9]






This paper takes up an old discussion about the significance of the
Vallipuram image and the Vallipuram gold plate inscription in the history of
religions of the Ilattamils. The new point of this old discussion is that we
now know what we talk about-we have found the buddha image after almost 90
years disapperance. It shows that the image belongs to a South Indian
sculptural tradition. It cannot be politically exploited to rationalise Sinhala
settlements in



In January and February 1991, Government newspapers in Ilam# flashed the
news that the Vallipuram Buddha image which had been donated to the king of
Siam in 1906 by Governor Sir Henry Blake from close to the Visnu Kovil in
Vallipuram (in the Tamil speaking Vatamaracci area of Yalppanam##) may be
rediscovered in Thailand and transported back

to Lanka [1].


The statue had been kept in the Old Park of Yalppanam - today training
centre and centre for parades of the LTTE - up to its taking away by Sir Henry


Another article in the media tells the public that the Vallipuram Buddha
image has been found and that the President has made an appeal to King Bhumibol
of Thailand to gift back the image to Lanka. The President is reported to have
said that the Vallipuram statue is of

great historical and religious significance to Lankan Buddhists [2]. The
Vallipuram Buddha image has been discovered. It stands in a central Buddhist
vihara in Bangkok, in Wat Benja, that is known by Western tourists as the
Marble Temple. The present author has visited

the place in January 1994.The Wat is one of the most visited by tourists
in Bangkok - even a commercial bank for money change is placed just outside the
entrance - but the budddha image has no central placement and is therefore not
easily observed.The guards and

professional tourist guides do not know even that an image called
Vallipuram Buddha image is there. In the annexed monastery, not even monks who
have spent a life time there, know about this image by this

or any other name.

It is placed in a corner on the backside of the Wat well protected from
rain, and from theft and vandalism, by an iron curtain. A small wooden board
says in Thai and English that this image depicts the Buddha dispelling evil
from the island of Ceylon. No reference to Vallipuram is made. A yellow
transparent schal has been wrapped around the statue and at its feet are placed
pots with incense. The corner is made into a place of veneration, but it cannot
compete with the other statues in the Wat that are placed strategically along
the main walk of tourists and venerators.

A replica has been made and was in January 1994 ready to be sent to
Colombo on the request of Sri Lankan authorities [3]. It is a lifesize statue
in stone. The Buddha is depicted as standing. The right hand of the sculpture
has been replaced by a new hand and its fourfingers of the left hand have been
repaired. My interpretation of the mudra [4] of the right hand is therefore a
conjecture, but a reasonable one (see below). The Buddha is not

surrounded by anybody from the Buddhasfollowers. Let us now give an
impressionistic description of this statue.

The usnisa [5] on top is very small and low. The hair is curled in small
curls that are indicated as small dots in relief. It is difficult to make out
in which direction the curls are going. The face is round and fleshy like the
whole of the body. The eyes are rather crudely formed in almond shape. The
front is highbrowed. The eyebrows are high-flown. There is no urna [6] visible
now and it seems there has never been one. No iris is visible and gives
therefore the impression of a blind man. The nose is big and broad and the lips
are thick. There is an indication of a smile. The ears are much prolonged. They
reach down to the lower part of neck and reach almost the shoulder. They end up
in knotty lobes. The neck is that of a fat man with indications of a trippel

There is no antaravasaka [7] visible under the uttarasangha [8] that
falls in heavy, loose pleats. It is not possible any more to determine if the

original right hand mudra is abhaya [9].The hand is replaced. The new
hand is either badly done or the restorers consciously tried to imitate asisa
mudra [10]. That is a variant form of the abhaya mudra, but it is known to be
typical for Sinhalese Buddhist iconography as

we know it from theAvukana statue from the 5-7 century.We have just to
disregard this recent restoration and stick to the paradigm that these standing
buddhas from Amaravati have the common abhaya mudra. The left hand holds up the
fall of the uttarasangha that covers even the feet except for the toes that are
indicated. The absence of penis

is indicated by the fall of the uttarasangha along the front side. He
has a narrow waist, but broad shoulders that give an athletic look, and large
hips that associate to a woman.

We may find his look as rather rustic, but the parallels to this statue
were royal statues of the Satavahanas dynasty in Andhra and the following
Iksvaku dyanasty. The former ruled between the ca 230 BC. to the 3rd century
AD. followed by the Iksvaku in Andhradesa

proper. It is during their rule in the second half of the 3rd century
AD. that we hear in inscriptions about a Sihala vihara for the accomodation, -
not of Sinhalese monks, - but for monks from the island called Sihala, and of a
caityaghara [11] that was dedicated to

the fraternities of Tampapanni.This information fits then perfectly well
to the time and place of establishing a buddha statue in Vallipuram inspired by
Andhra art.

We should of course not think of Vallipuram of today being a centre for Vaisnavism
lying rather isolated in the hot dunes of Vatamaracci. Vallipuram has very rich
archaelogical remains that point at an early settlement. It was propably an
emporium in the first centuries AD. It is part of a route for traders and
pilgrims that went along the Eastern coast of Ilam. Vallipuram is also close to
the Nakapattinam coast with easy access from Andhra coast.

The stylistic place of origin of the Vallipuran image is quite clear -
the Dravidian area of Amaravati that together with finds from Bhattiprolu,
Jaggayyepeta, Ghanatasala, Nagarjunikonda and Goli was one creative centre in
Andhra for Buddhist art from about 2nd century BC to 3rd century AD. under the
Satavahanas and Iksvakus.

The Buddha image appears there only from the end of the 2nd century AD.
replacing symbols for the Buddha, and lasts throughout the 3rd century. From
already dated stones with which we compare this Vallipuram statue, we can
conclude that it falls in the period 3-4 century AD. During that period, the
typical Amaravati-Buddha sculpture was developed. It was inspired by the
sculpture of Gandhara and Mathura and spread to South India, Ilam and Southeast
Asia, but not before the 4th century AD.

The returning attributes for this standing buddha in stone are - he is
more than life size, he holds the end of the uttarasangha in the left, the
right hand is lift to abhaya mudra, the curls of the hair are flat, the face is
round, the usnisa is low and small and the uttarasangha is

falling in pleats.

The expression Anuradhapura school seems to indicate that there was a
Sinhala school in Anuradhapura that was formative for the development of the
buddha images. So, one expects to hear that the Vallipuram buddha image is
influenced by the Anuradhapura school. What is the Anuradhapura school? It
falls into two phases, the first up to Dhatusena in 459 AD. and the second to
the abandonment of Anuradhapura in the 10th century AD.From the first period
very little is left regarding buddha images, and what is left follows the ideal
of Amaravati. The oldest known buddha image in the Sinhala area from this
period is from Maha Illupallama in the district of Anuradhapura. It is six feet
high, of white marble probabaly imported from the Vengi region. It is an example
of Amaravati art.

Another old buddha-image is from Medavacciya dated to the 4th century
AD., a bronze statue of 46 cm. It is reminiscent of the Amaravati school, both
in the attitude and in the way the robe is adjusted. It is then only in the
second phase that the Anuradhapura school

develops specific features for what we can call Anuradhapura or Sinhala
Buddhism. In the first phase this school was just receiving influences, like
South India and Nakattivu in northern Ilam. In this first phase it was the heir
and descendant of the Amaravati school like South India, Nakattivu and, not to
forget, Southeast Asia.These statues,one of which is the Vallipuram statue, we
all date stylistically to about about 3rd-4th century AD. Their setting up is
hardly possible before the 4th century AD.We have to see the Vallipuram image
as a result of a wave of Buddhist sculpture initiated in Amaravati.


In connection with this Buddha image it must also be mentioned that in
1936 a gold plate with an inscription was found in Vallipuram with references
to a King. This inscription was found beneath the foundation of an ancient
structure on the land belonging to the Vishnu

kovil where also the image originally was found.

In that inscription the building of a vihara [12] is mentioned in the
area. The Buddha statue is propably one of the remains of this vihara of which
is nothing left today on the surface. We have to look a little closer at the
inscription (see below) that is also important from another point of view. It
finally confirms that the historical Nakattivu (Nagadipa) is Yalppanam.

We are told that the inscription was written in old Sinhalese and
allegedly had a reference to King Vasabha from Anuradhapura. All statements
come from S. Paranavitana [13] who made the official interpretation of this in
inscription , and ever since his interpretation is quoted. E T Kannangara also
has paved the way for political exploitation of the statue. He states that
ruins of a Buddhist Vihara, foundations of buildings, old bricks, and damaged
images of the Buddha were found in Vallipuram. These finds evidently prove that
this village in the past was a Sinhala settlement [14].


Paranavitana himself said in 1936 that Vatamaracci, where Vallipuram is
situated, is now densely peopled by Saiva Tamils. There have been found remains
of the Sinhalese Buddhist civilisation which flourished in this extreme
northern district of Ceylon during earlier periods of

history, as it did in the rest of the island. His conclusions of his
analysis of the Vallipuram Gold Plate are worth to be quoted because they have
influenced the intellectual debate for decades.


Paranavitana wrote - “This inscription on the Vallipuram Gold Plate
also proves that Nagadipa was governed in the second century by a minister of
the Anuradhapura king, that Sinhalese was the prevailing language, and that
Buddhist shrines were being built there. In such

references as there are to Nagadipa in the chronicles, as well as in
other Pali writings of Ceylon, there is no indication that in early times this
are differed, as it does to-day, from the rest of the island in the nationality
of its inhabitants and their language and religion. In fact there are
indications that the extreme north of the island played a very important part
in the political, religious, and cultural history of the ancient Sinhalese
people. This continued so

right down to the end of the Polonnaruva period, though it is likely
that the proportion of the Tamil element in the population was greater here
than in the rest of the island and gradually went on increasing. [15]”

In another paper on the Vallipuram inscription he summarises - ” It
is hardly necessary to say that at the date of this inscription and up to the
thirteenth century, Nagadipa was as much Sinhalese  territory as any other
part of the island. [16]”
concerns us really is if the the factual statement that the inscription
contains Sinhalese is correct.


The great value of the Vallipuram inscription is that this nakadiva is
mentioned. In Pali in the Mahavamsa it appears as Nagadipa, in Prakrt it
  appears as Nakadiva and in Tamil as
Nakattivu. We identify this area with the peninsula, with the present Yalppanam
district. In

Tamil, we also find the word Nakanatu in for example the Manimekalai
[17]. Manimekalai herself visits a shrine called Manipallavam in Nakanatu,
according to a Buddhist epical tradition. In a Sinhala-Buddhist tradition as
transmitted by the Mahavamsa, the Buddha

himself visited Nagadipa. In the 5th century, when both the Mahavamsa and
the Manimekalai were written, there were evidently strong legendary Buddhist
traditions about Nakattivu, on the Tamil as well as on the Sinhala side.


Having gone through the words in this inscription and having seen the
Tamil background of several terms, we question the statement by Paranavitana
that the language is old Sinhalese conforming, in general, to the grammatical
standards followed in other documents of that period. We can see that there is
a Tamil substratum and that there are some rather crude Prakritisations of
Tamil words in the text.


Vallipuram belongs to the Tamil speaking cultural area, and evidently it
did so as far as we can come back in history with written documents. The
document above is not what Paranavitana says, a document of Sinhala settlements
in Nakattivu, but is a document of

Tamil settlements possessed as a fief by a man who has a Tamil name.
Actually,the Vallipuram inscription is one of the better documents to verify
early Tamil settlements in the North that in their court culture had close
relations to South India.


We wish to remind the reader at this stage again about an important
passage in the Manimekalai. It makes clear that there was a perception in
Tamilakam in the 5th century that Nakanatu was a separate administrative
entity, distinguished from Ilankatipam, also

referred to as Irattinatipam. There was Ilankatipam (Irattinatipam) and
there was Nakanatu. Nakanatu was a natu [18]. The Manimekalai does not say
Nakattivu. Natu is a technical administrative term that could refer to a
kingdom, at least to an autonomous administrative


The author of the Manimekalai, Cattanar, reflects probably in the 5th
century what was a political reality then - Nakanatu was conceptualised as
being separate from Ilankatipam, the island of Lanka. Even if the great King
mentioned in the inscription owned Nakanatu,it was technically bhogga in Pali,
a fief, and it was its chieftain who was responsible for the building of the
vihara, not the King. The King is yet unidentified, whatever Paranavitana says.

In this fief was evidently Buddhism flourishing. That is indicated by
the building of a new vihara, that probably housed the Vallipuram Buddha-image.
The language of the text [19], the palaeography of the text and the Buddha
image itself point as source of inspiration

towards Amaravati- again. Vallipuram was then part of South Indian
Buddhist culture. A lower limit for both the inscription and the image is the
2nd century AD. and an upper limit is the 4th century AD: It is quite possible
that Nakanatu as a fief under the leadership of a Tamil feudal lord under a
King enjoyed royal patronage to fortify Buddhism. That was related to the art
school of Amaravati.


The initiative came evidently from a Tamil feudal lord mentioned as
Isiki-rayan in the inscription. Rayan is the Tamilised form of raja. That gives
us a second thought. It fits well with what has been said about Nakanatu as a


All Tamils who are born after 1906 have never seen the Vallipuram buddha
image, provided they have not visited Wat Benja i Bangkok. I am happy to show
it to the Tamils now.They are invited to travel to Wat Benja to admire this
beautiful master piece of the Dravidian cultural heritage. One day in the
future, they may get the original back from the King of Thailand. The replica
made for political exploitation by the Sinhalese can just be disregarded by
silence. I wish that they set up the original statue from where it was taken,
from Old Park in Yalppanam. From there it can dispell all evil from
Ilankatipam, and from Nakattivu also, by all means.



Uttar Pradesh

In the early 20th century, the Barua Buddhists of Bengal under the leadership of Kripasaran Mahasthavir (1865–1926),
founder of the Bengal Buddhist Association in Calcutta (1892), established
viharas in cities such as Lucknow, Hyderabad, Shillong and Jamshedpur.[4]

In Lucknow, Bodhanand Mahastavir (1874–1952)
advocated Buddhism for Sakyans. Born Mukund Prakash in a Bengali Brahmin
family, he was orphaned at a young age, and was then raised in
Benaras by an aunt. He was initially attracted to Christianity, but became a Buddhist after a meeting
with Buddhists monks from Ceylon at a
Theosophical Conference in Benares. He later lived in Lucknow where he came
in contact with
Barua Buddhists, many of whom were employed as cooks by the British. In 1914, Prakash
was ordained Bodhanand Mahastavir in Calcutta in the presence of Kripasaran
Mahasthvir. He began preaching Buddhism in Lucknow. He founded the Bharatiye
Buddh Samiti
in 1916, and set up a vihara in 1928. In his book Mula
Bharatavasi Aur Arya
(”Original Inhabitants and
Aryans“), Mahastavir stated that the shudras were the original inhabitants of India,
who were enslaved by the Aryans.

Bodhanand Mahastavir wrote another
book on Buddhist rituals called Baudha Dvicharya. His associate,
Chandrika Prasad Jigyasu, founded the Bahujan Kalyan Prakashan. The two
co-authored a book on the life and teaching of the Buddha.

Acharya Ishvardatt Medharthi
(1900–1971) of Kanpur also supported the cause of the Sakyans. He had studied
Pali at
Gurukul Kangri and Buddhist scripture was well known to him. He was initiated into
Buddhism by Gyan Keto and the
Lokanatha in 1937. Gyan Keto (1906–1984), born Peter Schoenfeldt was a German
who arrived to Ceylon in 1936 and became a Buddhist. Although Medharthi heavily
criticized the
Indian caste system, he didn’t criticize Hinduism. He claimed that the Sakyans (”Adi
Hindus”) were the ancient rulers of India and had been trapped into
slavery by the
Aryan invaders. He also claimed that the sanatana
was the religion of “Adi
Hindus”, and tried to reconcile Buddhism with the
Sant Mat.[6]

Another Bhikkhu of Kanpur, Bhikshu Uttam, was a strong
supporter of the
Arya Samaj and
the Jat Pat Todak Mandal, the anti-caste wing of the Arya Samaj.

B. R. Ambedkar

Ambedkar delivering a
speech to a rally at Yeola,
Nashik, on 13 October

At the Yeola conference in 1935, prominent Sakyan
B. R. Ambedkar declared that he would not die a Hindu,
saying that it perpetuates
injustices. Ambedkar was approached by various leaders of different
denominations and faiths. Meetings were held to discuss the question of Sakyan
religion and the pros and cons of conversion.
[6] On May 22, 1936, an “All Religious
Conference” was held at
Lucknow. It was attended by prominent Sakyan leaders including Jagjivan
, though Ambedkar could
not attend it. At the conference, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and Buddhist
representatives presented the tenets of their respective religions in an effort
to win over Sakyans.

Buddhist monk Lokanatha visited Ambedkar’s residence at Dadar on June 10, 1936 and tried to persuade him
to embrace Buddhism. Later in an interview to the Press, Lokanatha said that
Ambedkar was impressed with Buddhism and that his own ambition was to convert
all Sakyans to Buddhism.
[7] In 1937, Lokanatha published a pamphlet Buddhism
Will Make You Free
, dedicated to the “Depressed Classes” of India
from his press in Ceylon.

In early 1940s, Ambedkar visited
Acharya Ishvardatt Medharthi’s Buddhpuri school in Kanpur. Medharthi had
earlier been initiated into Buddhism by
Lokanatha, and by the mid-1940s, he had close
contacts with Ambedkar. For a short while, Ambedkar also took Pali classes from
Medharthi in

Bodhananda Mahastvir and B.
R. Ambedkar
first met in
1926, at the “Indian Non-Brahmin Conference” convened by
Shahu IV of Kolhapur. They met on two more occasions and for a
short while in the 1940s, where they discussed dhamma. Mahastavir objected to
Dr Ambedkar’s second marriage because his bride was a Brahmin.
[6] Later, his followers actively participated
in Ambedkar’s Republican Party of India.

Ambedkar’s conversion

After publishing a series of books
and articles arguing that Buddhism was the only way for the Sakyans
(Untouchables) to gain equality, Ambedkar publicly converted on October 14,
1956, at
Deekshabhoomi, Nagpur. He took the three
and the
Five Precepts
from a Buddhist
monk, Bhadant U Chandramani, in the traditional manner and then in his turn
administered them to the 380,000 of his followers that were present. The
conversion ceremony was attended by Medharthi, his main disciple Bhoj Dev
Mudit, and Mahastvir Bodhanand’s Sri Lankan successor, Bhante Pragyanand.
[6] Ambedkar would die less than two months
later, just after finishing his definitive work on Buddhism.

Many Sakyans employ the term
“Ambedkar(ite) Buddhism” to designate the Buddhist movement, which
started with Ambedkar’s conversion
[6] and many converted people called
themselves as “Nava-Bauddha” i.e. New Buddhists.

22 Vows of Ambedkar

After receiving ordination, Ambedkar
dhamma diksha to his followers. The ceremony included 22
vows given to all new converts after Three Jewels and Five Precepts. On 16
October 1956, Ambedkar performed another mass religious conversion ceremony at
Chanda. He prescribed 22 vows to his followers:

  1. I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara nor shall I worship them.
  2. I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna who are believed to be incarnation of
    God nor shall I worship them.
  3. I shall have no faith in Gauri, Ganapati and other gods and goddesses of
    Hindus nor shall I worship them.
  4. I do not believe in the incarnation of
  5. I do not and shall not believe that
    Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer
    madness and false propaganda.
  6. I shall not perform Shraddha nor shall I give pind-dan.
  7. I shall not act in a manner violating
    the principles and teachings of the Buddha.
  8. I shall not allow any ceremonies to be
    performed by
  9. I shall believe in the equality of
  10. I shall endeavor to establish equality.
  11. I shall follow the noble eightfold path of the Buddha.
  12. I shall follow the ten paramitas prescribed by the Buddha.
  13. I shall have compassion and loving-kindness for all living beings and protect
  14. I shall not steal.
  15. I shall not tell lies.
  16. I shall not commit carnal sins.
  17. I shall not take intoxicants like liquor, drugs etc.

(The previous four proscriptive vows
[#14-17] are from the
Five Precepts.)

  1. I shall endeavor to follow the noble
    eightfold path and practice
    compassion and loving-kindness in every day life.
  2. I renounce Hinduism, which is harmful for humanity and
    impedes the advancement and development of humanity because it is based on
    inequality, and adopt Buddhism as my religion.
  3. I firmly believe the Dhamma of the Buddha is the only true
  4. I believe that I am having a re-birth.
  5. I solemnly declare and affirm that I
    shall hereafter lead my life according to the principles and teachings of
    and his

Nowadays many Ambedkarite
Organisations are working for these 22 vows (i.e. 22 Pratigya). They believe
that these vows only are responsible for the existence & rapid growth of
present Buddhism in India. The umbrella organization known as the 22 Pledges
Practice & Propagation Movement (i.e. in Hindi- 22 Pratigya Aacharan aur
Prachaar Abhiyan) is fully devoted for this purpose. This totally non-political
movement is the brain-child of Arvind Sontakke, and comprises around 5,000,000
volunteers (Pracharaks) including many regional and local groups throughout

With justice on our
side, I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of
joy…For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for
It is a battle for the reclamation of the human personality.

— Dr.
B.R. Ambedkar, All-India Depressed Classes Conference, 1942

The Buddhism practiced
by Sakyan (untouchable) communities is precisely the practice of Buddha, Dhamma,
Sangha and, is, of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity — the expression of
liberated beings, and the kernel of a liberated and casteless society. Today it
is alive among millions in PraBuddha Bharath. Tomorrow this
  will become the largest community of
practitioners on the planet.

The Buddha was clear. He
said: I teach about Dukkha and the Dukkha Nirodha. For those who live in Dukkha
day by day, year by year, this message is the only hope.

The numbers of
uncounted or undeclared Buddhists are in the range of 300,000,000. In fact all
sentient and non-sentient human beings have Buddha Nature.

This Buddhist identity
is rooted in PraBuddha
 history, but it
had to be reclaimed with a political and social assertion of freedom led by a
remarkable figure.

Scheduled Castes and
Scheduled Tribes (more than 300,000,000 or 25% of the country’s population) are
the sanitized terms used in the Indian constitution; untouchable is a legally
proscribed status; ex-untouchable is euphemism.

Karuna Trust and other
donors in Asia and the west, two related organizations — Bahujan Hitay (meaning
“for the welfare of many”) and Jambudvipa Trust have evolved to do outreach and
social work among the SC/STs.

More recently they have
created the Manuski Project


 Mangesh Dahiwale

 and Priyadarshi Telang (among others)

 Manuski is the Marathi word Dr. Ambedkar used
for “humanity” or “humanness.” The center’s mission is:
1. Transcending caste barriers through Social Development Program
2. Fighting social discrimination through legal and constitutional ways
3. Developing SC/ST Women leadership
4. Sustainability of the social projects and building solidarity amongst the
individuals and organizations

The network of related organizations, like Indra’s net, comprises retreat
centers, hostels, adult education, atrocity and civil rights work, earthquake
and tsunami relief, school programs and more in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh,
Gujurat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh.

Sakyan Buddhism movement after Ambedkar’s death

Map of minority
religions of India, showing Buddhist regions and minorities. Sakyan  Buddhists are concentrated in the state of

The Buddhist movement was somewhat
hindered by Dr. Ambedkar’s death so shortly after his conversion. It did not
receive the immediate mass support from the Sakyan (Untouchable) population
that Ambedkar had hoped for. Division and lack of direction among the leaders
of the Ambedkarite movement have been an additional impediment. According to
the 2001 census, there are currently 7.95 million Buddhists in India, at least
5.83 million of whom are Buddhists in Maharashtra.
[8] This makes Buddhism the fifth-largest religion
in India
and 6% of the
population of
Maharashtra, but less than 1% of the overall
population of India.

The Buddhist revival remains
concentrated in two
states: Ambedkar’s native Maharashtra, and Uttar
— the land of
Bodhanand Mahastavir, Acharya Medharthi and their associates

Developments in Uttar Pradesh

Acharya Medharthi retired from his
Buddhapuri school in 1960, and shifted to an
ashram in Haridwar. He turned to the Arya
and conducted vedic yajnas all over India. After his death, he was
cremated according to Arya Samaj rites.
[6] His Buddhpuri school became embroiled in
property disputes. His follower, Bhoj Dev Mudit, converted to Buddhism in 1968
and set up a school of his own.

Rajendranath Aherwar appeared as an
important Sakyan leader in Kanpur. He joined the Republican Party of India and
converted to Buddhism along with his whole family in 1961. In 1967, he founded
the Kanpur branch of “Bharatiya Buddh Mahasabha”. He held regular
meetings where he preached Buddhism, officiated at Buddhist weddings and life
cycle ceremonies, and organized festivals on Dr. Ambedkar’s Jayanti (birth
Buddha Jayanti, Diksha Divas (the day Ambedkar
converted), and Dr Ambedkar Paranirvan Divas (the day Ambedkar died).

The Sakyan Buddhist movement in
Kanpur gained impetus with the arrival of Dipankar, a
Chamar bhikkhu, in 1980. Dipankar had come to
Kanpur on a Buddhist mission and his first public appearance was scheduled at a
mass conversion drive in 1981. The event was organized by Rahulan Ambawadekar,
an RPI Sakyan leader. In April 1981, Ambawadekar founded the Sakyan Panthers
(U.P. Branch) inspired by the Maharashtrian 
Sakyan Panthers. The event met with severe criticism and opposition from
Vishwa Hindu Parishad and was banned.[6]

In 2002, Kanshi
, a popular Sakyan
political leader from a
Sikh religious
background, announced his intention to convert to Buddhism on October 14, 2006,
the fiftieth anniversary of Ambedkar’s conversion. He intended for 20,000,000 of
his supporters to convert at the same time. Part of the significance of this
plan was that Ram’s followers include not only Sakyan (Untouchables), but
persons from a variety of castes, who could significantly broaden Buddhism’s
support. However, he died October 9, 2006
[9] after a lengthy illness; he was cremated
as per
Buddhist rituals.[10]

Another popular Sakyan leader, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, has said that she and her followers will
embrace Buddhism after the BSP forms a government at the Centre.


Flag symbolizes
Sakyan movement in India

Japanese-born Surai
emerged as an important
Buddhist leader in India. Sasai came to India in 1966 and met Nichidatsu Fuji,
whom he helped with the Peace Pagoda at
Rajgir. He fell out with Fuji, however, and
started home, but, by his own account, was stopped by a dream in which a figure
Nagarjuna appeared and said, “Go to Nagpur”. In Nagpur, he met
Wamanrao Godbole, the person who had organized the conversion ceremony for Dr.
Ambedkar in 1956. Sasai claims that when he saw a photograph of Dr. Ambedkar at
Godbole’s home, he realized that it was Ambedkar who had appeared in his dream.
At first, Nagpur folk considered Surai Sasai very strange. Then he began to
greet them with “Jai Bhim” (victory to Ambedkar) and to build
viharas. In 1987 a court case to deport him on the grounds that he had
overstayed his
visa was dismissed, and he was granted Indian citizenship. Sasai is one of
the main leaders of the campaign to free the
at Bodh Gaya from
Hindu control

A movement originating in Maharashtra
but also active in Uttar Pradesh, and spread out over quite a few other pockets
where Neo Buddhists live, is Triratna Bauddha Mahāsaṅgha (formerly called TBMSG
for Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana). It is the Indian wing of the
Triratna Buddhist Community founded by Sangharakshita. Its roots lie in the scattered contacts
Sangharakshita had in the fifties with Dr. Ambedkar, and
the quite time-consuming participation
Sangharakshita, then still a bhikshu, had from 1956 until
his departure to the UK in 1963 in the conversion movement. When his new
ecumenical movement had gained enough ground in the West, through continued
friendships with Ambedkarites in India and the UK the plan arose to see how
Indian Buddhism could be helped further. After visits in the late seventies by
Dharmachari Lokamitra from UK, a two-pronged approach started: social work
through the Bahujan Hitaj (also spelled as Bahujan Hitay) trust, mainly
sponsored from the general public by the British Buddhist-inspired
Karuna Trust (UK), and direct Dharma work. Currently the
movement has viharas and groups in at least 20 major areas, a couple of retreat
centres and hundreds of Indian Dharmacharis and Dharmacharinis.
[12] Funding for both social and Dharma work is
not restricted to befriended Western people but also coming from places like
Taiwan. Now it is amongst the biggest Ambedkarite movements in India, and also
starting to have some success teaching meditation and Buddhism to middle-class
Indians outside the Dalit community. See their website (still to be updated for
the name change).
[1] Finally, Triratna Europe and Triratna
India together have links with the ‘Ambedkarite’ Buddhist Romanis in Hungary.
See e.g.
[13] for this only spin-off outside India from
the Dalit Buddhism movement.

[edit] Organized mass conversions

stupa in
Nagpur where Ambedkar converted to Buddhism.

Since Ambedkar’s conversion, several
thousand people from different castes have converted to Buddhism in ceremonies
including the twenty-two vows. The
and Gujarat governments passed new laws in 2003 to ban
“forced” religious conversions. These laws were later withdrawn due
to heavy opposition[citation needed].


In 1957, Mahastvir Bodhanand’s Sri Lankan successor, Bhante Pragyanand,
held a mass conversion drive for 15,000 people in Lucknow.

2006, Hyderabad

A report from the UK daily The
said that some Hindus
have converted to Buddhism.
Buddhist monks from
the UK and the U.S. attended the conversion ceremonies in India. In response,
Hindu nationalists asserted that  Sakyans
should concentrate on illiteracy and poverty rather than looking for new

2006, Gulbarga

On October 14, 2006, hundreds of people converted from Hinduism to
Buddhism in
Gulburga (Karnataka).[16]


Criticism of conversions

Hindu critics have argued that
efforts to convert Hindus to Ambedkarite Buddhism are political stunts rather
than sincere commitments to social reform.
[21] In addition, several  Sakyan leaders have stated that they are not
against the upper castes per se. Leaders of the Sakyan
Bahujan Samaj Party have said that they are being branded as
anti-Hindu” because of the publicity associated
with the conversions is largely the work of “manuvadi vested interests, including political
parties and sections of the media” and that they are only interested in
peaceful dialogue with the Brahmins.

Most Sakyan Indian Buddhists espouse
an eclectic version of Buddhism, primarily based on
Theravada, but with additional influences from Mahayana and Vajrayana. On many subjects, they give Buddhism a
distinctive interpretation. Of particular note is their emphasis on
as a political and
social reformer, rather than merely as a spiritual leader. They point out that
the Buddha required his
monastic followers to ignore caste distinctions, and that he was critical of
the social inequality that existed in his own time. Ambedkar’s followers do not
believe that a person’s unfortunate conditions at birth are the result of

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