Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blavatsky’s Influence in Australia

An article in the magazine section of the Sunday April 17, 2011, issue of The Hindu newspaper of India carries the news that “the fastest growing religion in Australia is Buddhism.” Starting with the arrival of Chinese labourers in Adelaide in 1851 to the more recent immigrants from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Buddhism has been a presence in Australia.

The next link with Buddhism was through the Theosophists. Helene Blavatsky and Col. Henry Olcott, who had formally converted to Buddhism in 1880 in a temple in south Ceylon. Olcott spent several months on a lecture tour of Australia in 1891 and though there are many differences between Theosophy and Buddhism, his assertion at several lectures that the central aim of Theosophy was to draw attention to Buddhist philosophy led to a greater white Australian interest in Buddhism. Particularly as Alfred Deakin, a Liberal politician and later to be Prime Minister of Australia three times, was a Theosophist and chaired several of Olcott's meetings.

The paper reports that “The biggest stupa outside the countries with a significant Buddhist presence is being built in Bendigo, not far from Melbourne….The FPMT’s [Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition] Great Stupa of Universal Compassion will be 50 sq. m at the base, will rise to a height of 48 m. and resemble the Great Stupa in Gyantse, in southern Tibet, which dates to 1474. In the acres surroundings the Bendigo stupa there will be raised a monastery, a meditation centre, a hospice and accommodation for visitors.” The Dalai Lama laid the foundation on June 7, 2007, and the town “is expected to boom with thousands of visitors anticipated every year.”

The rest of article can be read here.

model of The Great Stupa

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