Nonagenarian U Gunawantha Mahathera or Bhante Baba to his followers stands like the witness of time, spreading Lord Buddha's message ever since he came to this remote town from Myanmar over 50 years ago and bringing solace to the lives of those tormented and troubled. And now Assam's old monk has one goal: to set up a Buddhist monastery which will cater to students from not only India but also from countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Bhante Baba and his aide Bhante Nyanaloka have begun preliminary discussions with local authorities. "We would require around 80-100 bighas of land near the Margherita new colony for the university. We are in talks with authorities regarding this project," says Bhante Baba, who set up the Mounglang Khamti Buddhist Monastery and International Meditation Centre in this coal township and Northeast's last railway destination. He is in constant touch with the Maha Bodhi Society of Bengaluru in this regard. "Besides education, we also plan to set up a nun training centre.
Currently nearly 30 nuns are undergoing training in Arunachal Pradesh's Bordumsa," he told PTI. Born as Mong Chie Yen on November 14, 1923, he decided to lead an ascetic life at the age of 18. And then at the age of 30, he left for India with an aim to propagate the preaching's of Lord Buddha. After Calcutta, he finally reached this town and settled in the Khamti village. Bhante Baba also bats for reopening of the Stillwell road saying it will help the cause of the university in a great way. The 1,726-km Stilwell Road, built by the Allied Army under supervision of General Joseph Stilwell of the US Army during World War II, connects Ledo to Kunming in China through Myanmar but is now lying closed. The Mounglang monastery also has a pagoda and accommodation and food facilities for visitors to the meditation centre. Bhante Baba's visitors' list is pretty long with ministers and politicians from not only the state but also from outside often coming for advice. His advice to all is simple: "Control the mind and yourself for your overall wellbeing.
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