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Mahatma Gandhi (1869—1948) political leader and religious and social reformer


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Sri Lanka based reform movement that emphasizes a return to traditional village life based on Buddhist principles as the cure for the corruption and materialism of modern urban societies. It is often known by the name Sarvodaya Shramadana. Sarvodaya means ‘the welfare of all’, and shramadana means ‘donation of work’, in the sense of mutual collaboration and assistance with practical projects. Typical projects include digging wells, building roads, founding schools, providing medical facilities, and teaching new techniques of farming and animal husbandry to villagers. A lay Buddhist movement in which monks may participate, Sarvodaya was founded by A. T. Ariyaratne in 1958. Although centred on Sri Lanka it has been influential in promoting Engaged Buddhism in both the developed and developing world. Around one-third of Sri Lankan villages (some 8,000 or so) are affiliated, but the movement has remained decentralized working through Village Awakening Councils (samhiti) which take their own financial and policy decisions. The movement is a response to the charge that Buddhism lacks a ‘social gospel’, and marks a return to the traditional symbiotic relationship between the village and the monastery (vihāra) in which the secular and religious domains go hand in hand.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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