venerable karma lekshe tsomo meditating by fountain

6 a.m. Every day starts with meditation. Even better is meditating with chirping birds in a garden at Somaiya Vidyavihar, an educational institution and campus.

venerable karma lekshe tsomo getting out of a taxi in mumbai

8 a.m. After a South Indian breakfast of idli [rice cakes] with sambal [chili sauce], I’m off to visit local Buddhist monasteries and pilgrimage sites.

venerable karma lekshe tsomo bowing to statue of b.r. ambedkar at chaityabhumi stupa

8:30 a.m. The first stop is Chaityabhumi Stupa, a memorial to B. R. Ambedkar, who drafted the constitution for an independent India. In 1956, he led nearly half a million people from low-caste and outcaste communities to become Buddhist.

venerable karma lekshe tsomo arranging an altar at an ambedkarite buddhist temple

11 a.m. I visit a temple founded by Ambedkar Buddhists in the Ramabai Nagar District and meet with members of the local community. Ambedkar Buddhists still face serious discrimination, so this is an opportunity to encourage them and express international solidarity on social justice issues.

venerable karma lekshe tsomo sitting with eyes closed on a bus in mumbai

2 p.m. Navigating the chaos of Mumbai’s streets and waterways can get a bit overwhelming, so it’s relaxing to take an occasional mental health break.

ven. karma lekshe tsomo lecturing to a group at the k. j. somaiya centre for buddhist studies

4 p.m. After lunch, I meet students and faculty at the K. J. Somaiya Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Mumbai to explore the role of gender studies in Buddhism. We often hear people say, “Men and women are equal in Buddhism.” So why do gender inequalities persist in Buddhist societies and institutions?

See the previous installment of “A Day in the Dharma”: A Day in the Dharma with Jules Shuzen Harris, abbot of Soji Zen Center

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