07/02/2007, 00.00
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Christian love and solidarity towards others attractive to many Buddhists

by Kalpit Parajuli
A member of the Buddhist Studies Department at a Nepali university talks about growing Buddhist influence in the West and conversions from Buddhism to Christianity in Nepal. Buddhist studies give students greater understanding of the faith but few job opportunities.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Love for others and solidarity towards them as well as help for the poor and forgiveness are elements in Christianity that fascinate many Buddhists and lead them to convert, this according to Naresh Man Bajracharya, head of the Central Department for Buddhist Studies at Tribhuvan University in Nepal.

For him, Christians are helpful, generous in many aspects of life, whereas Buddhism is only based on philosophy and knowledge. Still the number of Buddhists is also growing after a period of secular rule that discriminated against Buddhists and treated them unfairly.

Bajracharya told AsiaNews that in Nepal there is still fear that an India-based Hindu extremist group, Shiva Sena, might come in to defend the monarchy. “But if there is any inter-religious conflict, the responsibility lies with the government, he said.

Buddhism is also growing rapidly in Europe, America and other countries, especially because of the “influence of the Dalai Lama and the Buddhist doctrine.”

The Buddhist studies programme at Tribhuvan University was established eight years ago and offers a two years masters’ degree. Since 2004 about 800 students have registered for its courses. But it does not offer many job prospects.

Bajracharya is aware of that but says that “our studies are academic and we should not be concerned about what students do after they graduate.”

In fact, registrations are up because the programme is open to anyone with a BA.

Rabindra Shakya is one such graduate. He hopes to improve understanding of what Buddhism is, its art and history.

Another student, Roshan Maharjan, is not entirely happy about the studies though because they focus entirely on the religion and have little value in getting a job. He laments that learning about Buddhist philosophy gives very little practical knowledge.

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