THE VENERABLE METTEYYA SAKYAPUTTA
As a young boy, Awadhesh spent his days in the shade of an ancient Pipala tree, in the sacred garden of the Maya Devi Temple – the birthplace of the Buddha. Even in the night, he would lay there and think about the universe and how it worked, and about society and what he could do to inspire positive change.
As a student, he was active in establishing environmental clubs, service clubs, tutoring programs, scholarships, and a textbook donation drive for students who could not afford to buy their books or continue their studies.
At the age of 15 this young man organized a few of his friends to tutor peers lagging behind in school. Lumbini has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country; tenth grade exams were coming and many of Awadhesh’s peers were unprepared. So he organized a small tutoring camp, in the shade of the countryside’s mango trees. Surrounding them were the water buffalo and goats, the mud huts and the rice fields they had grown up and played around as children, barefoot in the heat and humidity of the Terai.
As news of this study group spread, children of all ages began to appear. At first, Awadhesh explained that this was a tutoring group for tenth graders. But with poverty smeared on their clothes and faces, the children came anyway - because there was no school in this village, and they wanted to learn. So slowly, Awadhesh and the other tutors became teachers. They were young and they saw a need, and they believed in what they could do to make a difference on that day – even if there were no funds or future plans. Soon there were classes, and Awadhesh organized a volunteer teaching force that carried sickles into the fields to cut the straw and bamboo needed to make their first office (see in the background of the picture). The first building had no walls, and it was built like most homes in Awadhesh village, by hand and with hope. It flooded in monsoon season, but the children did not stop coming and Awadhesh did not stop giving, working, talking with mothers and fathers, raising mere rupees, speaking on the importance of education, and receiving land donations. He did not wait to proceed through official channels or even for money. He motivated people. Awadhesh envisioned what this small tutoring project could become, and so it was. Today, that space under the mango trees is called the Metta Gurukul School. It teaches 685 students and employs 18 teachers to teach kindergarden through the eighth class.
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Now an ordained Buddhist monk named the Venerable Metteyya, this young man has become a beloved Buddhism teacher around the world. He was one of the featured scholars in the 2010 PBS documentary “The Buddha”, and was portrayed alongside other well-known meditators in the 2014 documentary “On Meditation”. He was also a featured chapter in Allan Lokos’ book: “Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living.”
He is the founder of the Lumbini Social Service Foundation (LSSF), and in addition to the Metta Gurukul School he has opened a branch Metta school in a neighboring village, a college exclusively for rural girls (Karuna Girls College), a nunnery for young girls (Peace Grove Nunnery), and has also begun the construction of a peace education center and monastery for young boys (Bodhi Institute), all in his home community.
Compelled into action by the earthquake on April 25th, the Venerable Metteyya called upon his volunteers and supporters to contribute to this important humanitarian cause. Global Karuna was thus born out of a desire to serve and support the victims of this natural disaster with compassionate action. His new vision, Numuna Gaun – A Model Village, combines his passions for environmental consciousness, local empowerment, cultural heritage preservation, compassion, science and technology, and innovation.