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Thai term meaning ‘travelling Dharma’ and denoting a mission inaugurated in 1963 by the Thai Buddhist Saṃgha to the non-Buddhist hill tribes of Thailand. The programme was started by a former monk who subsequently became chief of the hill-tribes division of the Department of Public Welfare, and the abbot of a large monastery in Bangkok. The aim of the project is to bring Buddhism to the hill-tribes people and to integrate them politically, socially, and economically into the Thai national community. In a typical year, around 20 teams of five monks visit the tribal areas from March–June. The monks walk to the area and establish a monastic community. No attempt is made to proselytize or disparage the tribal religion. After a month or so a programme of home visits begins, and enquiries are made about the health and general welfare of each family. Elementary teaching and the dispensing of medicines provide the foundation for further development in the relationship. Critics of the programme object that monks are being used as civil servants, but supporters point out that the project is purely Saṃgha-led and that no rules of monastic discipline are broken by those who take part.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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