Since 1986, the Youth Buddhist Society (YBS) has been working with villagers in India to promote Buddhism, the environment, education and peace. YBS has been putting particular effort into making the study of Buddhism from the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions accessible to all who are interested. They invite teachers to visit the various YBS centers to conduct teachings, lead 3-10 day meditation retreats and otherwise support the study of Buddhist philosophy and meditation.
YBS programs reach approximately 25,000 people, most of whom are Buddhists, although Hindus and Muslims also join in activities. Many Buddhists in India belong to the socially and economically compromised sections of society, thus making it difficult for them to access the teachings of authentic Buddhist teachers.
The center of YBS activities is in the holy land of Sankasya in the State of Uttar Pradesh. Buddhist teachers who have taught YBS programs include Ven. Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Ven. Mingyur Rinpoche, Thich Nhat Than, Ven Summati, Ven Aggacitta, Ven Suddhamacara and Ven Pomyun Sunim. Many YBS youth join become volunteers at the various venues where these teachings take place (e.g. Deer Park Inst, Nagaloka, LTWA and CIHTS-Sarnath) to study and deepen their knowledge of philosophy, practice, and Tibetan and Pali language.
Thus far, all YBS staff work as volunteers, and the programs in the communities are supported with the enthusiastic efforts of the simple villagers, most of whom are farmers. As Khyentse Foundation is aware, a completely voluntary organization has its benefits and limitations.
YBS does not have funds to support the local travel of visiting lamas. The organization has determined the need to have an office to conduct and coordinate programs, network, fundraise and administer the programs. A Korean organization has already donated land in Sankasya to start a Buddhist school for YBS volunteer training in Buddhism and education methods that create an atmosphere of genuine Buddhist education.
KF-India provided financial support to YBS for a full time Project Manager and to cover the expenses for the travel of the teachers. The grant will also support publication of course materials and a scholarship fund for youth to attend Buddhist programs in traditional centers of Theravada and Mahayana traditions in Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Dharamsala.