Buddhist engagements with social justice: A comparison between Tibetan exiled Buddhists in dharamsala and dalit buddhists of Pune

Tamsin Bradley, Zara Bhatewara*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper contrasts two forms of Buddhism in India and their respective engagementswith concepts of social justice. It highlights the phenomenon of pluralism within religions, arguing that subtle differences often exist in how different branches of one tradition relate to and express concepts of rights and equality. In this regard we present two case studies: in Dharamsala, Tibetan Buddhists are embedded in a struggle for national freedom, while in Pune, the sociopolitical context of caste means that dalit people have sought to find a coherent strategy to fight the injustices they suffer. In Pune, Navayana Buddhism provides a practical system of morality which supports a strong sense of social justice and human dignity, underpinning political action. In Dharamsala, Tibetan interpretations of spirituality bolster welfare activity, but do not lend themselves well to the struggle for Tibetan sovereignty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalEconomic and Political Weekly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2012

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