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Mr. Min Bahadur Shakya

Brief Biography of Founding Director: Late Mr. Min Bahadur Shakya

Late Mr. Min Bahadur Shakya was a founding director of Nagarjuna Institute of Buddhist Studies (NIBS) Pvt. Ltd. He established this Buddhist learning center in 1980 in his old and ancestral residence at Nakabahil. Ever since he indefagitably was engaged in publishing Buddhist Himalayas, NIBS Newsletter. He for the first time organized the Buddhist lecture program on Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhist History and different genre of Buddhist studies in Nagarjuna Institute of Buddhist Studies Pvt. Ltd. at the time when there was not a single Buddhist Institute except YMBA where he also served as a president for six years. At that time, people didn’t know what is Mahayana Buddhism all about. Professionally he was a science and Mathematic’s teacher, but he was keenly interested in Mahayana Vajrayana Buddhism. So he studied Buddhist texts of Mahayana Buddhism, specially Tibetan Buddhism and Newar Buddhism extensively. Not only that he carried the practice of Mahayana Vajrayana Buddhism simultaneously side by side. So in other words, he was rightly called a very veteran Buddhist scholar practitioner. He was specially motivated by the practice of Bodhisattva from the very beginning. From the very outset, he emphasized the practice of great compassion and Bodhisattva deeds. Many many local and other Nepalese people benefitted from his teachings.

They came to know about Mahayana Buddhism, a rare incidence which became important among the Vajracarya ritualists. He brought about revolution in the Nepalese Buddhism. He introduced Tibetan Rinpoches of all four tradition into Nepalese devotees, like Urgyen Tulku Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Karma Thinley Rinpoche, Chokling Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and so on. Around 1993, he shifted his residence to Chakupat where he carried out the activities of NIEM more vigorously than ever before while continuing the Buddhist classes. He used to take all the classes, sometimes, Rev. Sridhar Rana also visited the Institute to deliver his lecture. As a director of NIBS and Buddhist scholar, he happened to be only one person in whole Nepal to have participated in more than three dozon Buddhist conferences and to have presented paper in those conferences and seminars held in many different countries, like India, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hongkong, France, USA, Germany, Vietnam, Srilanka, Bhutan, Russia, England, Burma and so forth. He was also the first research officer appointed by the Government to carry out his study of “Life of Princess Bhrikuti Devi” in Bhutan where he stayed for one year.

The study was equivalent to PhD. study. Here in Nepal, under his sole leadership with his two sons Milan Shakya and Miroj Shakya as his assistance, he translated many Buddhist books from English, Sanskrit, Tibetan into Nepal. He organized the first Buddhist seminar on the interaction of Buddhism between Nepal and Tibet in Blue Star Hotel. Apart from that, he organized Buddhist Book exhibition many times, first in Goethe Institute and then in Nepal Academy, Kamaladi. His another contribution was that from the very beginning, in 1980, he started collecting Buddhist book, English Tibetan books, Theravada Books, Newar Buddhist Books and so on. He started from the humble beginning. Now the NIEM Library boasts itself of being only one Library in whole Nepal which contains the Books from all the three Buddhist traditions current in Nepal, Newar Buddhism, Pali Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism. This Library has become only resource now for all the students of Buddhists studies studying either in the Buddhist Department of Tribhuvan University, or Lumbini Buddhist University. This was his great contribution indeed. contd…

Condolence on the Late Min Bahadur Shakya’s demise by one of his friend and Academic Buddhist Scholar

It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing away of Min Bahadur Shakya from Nepal at the beginning of this week. Mr. Shakya was a widely respected and energetic leader of the local Newar Buddhist community of the Kathmandu Valley, as well as the driving force behind the Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon and related initiatives dedicated to the preservation and spread of the Indian Buddhist literary heritage. He was particularly active in publishing Newar and Nepali translations of basic Buddhist texts from the original Sanskrit. These texts would otherwise have remained inaccessible to the vast majority of people in Nepal. Though by training and university employment a mathematician, Mr. Shakya was also a prolific scholar of Buddhism himself. Besides editing a number of journals, he authored dozens of articles and monographs dedicated to particular aspects of Newar Buddhism (its history, arts, pantheon, Sanskrit literary heritage, scholars and masters, etc.) and to Indo-Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism more generally.

Mr. Shakya spearheaded numerous activities and initiatives dedicated to the strengthening of Newar Buddhism. This included various programs developed to raising the level of learnedness among the Buddhists population, the schooling of ritual priests, and teaching in the Buddhist Studies program at Tribhuvan University. He also felt passionate about opening Newar Buddhism up to the outside world and fostering the exchange with other Buddhist traditions, including the Tibetan Buddhist schools present in the Kathmandu Valley. Important for the scholarly community, he also reached out to western scholars, for whom he was the natural first point of contact in Nepal, and whom he supported generously with his advice, his contacts and his enthusiasm. A member of Hiranyavarna Mahavihara in Patan, Min Bahadu Shakya was also a devoted Buddhist practitioner himself and embodied and lived many of the Buddhist virtues to the spread of which he dedicated his life.

Alexander von Rospatt
Professor in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies
Director of the Group in Buddhist Studies
University of California
7233 Dwinelle Hall # 2540
Berkeley, CA 94720-2540