About Bodh Gaya School
Pragya Vihar School,
Bodh Gaya, Bihar
Our beloved school in Bodh Gay offers a wonderful free education to more than 550 children aged from five to 16 years. Our teachers offer a full range of classroom subjects, plus inter-faith exploration, the arts, dance, drama, movement and mindfulness for the well being, happiness and knowledge of the children.
You can see the website for the school. http://www.pvschool.in/
Yours donations are very welcome. It costs around €60 per year to offer education to a child.
You can send a donation to our account in the UK, through a direct transfer. (Name of school bank account is in Pali language though we now use Sanskrit spelling).
Prajna Vihar School
Nat West Bank
9 Fore Street
Devon TQ9 5DB
BIC NWBK GB 2L
IBAN. GB11 NWBK 6021 4894 5800 49
Account Number 94580049
Branch sort code 60-21-48
Pragya Vihar School
c/o Lord Abbot
Our School is supported by Dharma friends
who wish to provide an education for Bodh Gaya's poorest children
The Prajna Vihar School (literally "Abode of Wisdom") is an inter-religious school for children of poor families in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India. It has Christian, Muslim and Hindu teachers and students from all these religions as well as Buddhists. It is funded primarily by people in, or connected to, the Buddhist Insight Meditation community.
The school started in 1990 and currently (2015) has around 560 students. Teaching is in Hindi and apart from teaching the normal curriculum and Ethics and Dance, students are encouraged to see the richness in each of the different religious traditions. There arecurrently sixteen teachers.The school is managed by a not-for-profit society, called the Prajna Vihar Inter-religious Education Society (PVIES).
The school relies on donations from the West and this support often fluctuates. To give an idea of school costs, the 2015-6 budget for the school recurrent costs is 2,255,000 Rupees (US$ 33,834 or Euros 31,088 at December 2015 exchange rates). This includes teacher salaries for the principal and fifteen teachers.
How did the school start?
Every morning Christopher Titmuss would tell a story to poor children in the Thai Monastery for their inspiration and insight during the annual insight meditation retreat. One Indian monk living there, Venerable Anuruddha, was working in the Monastery with these children from the local village. The monk and Christopher knew each other since the mid-1970s.
The monk taught the children some chanting, basic Dharma and alphabet. Children came half naked, dressed in rags in the cold January winter in Bodhgaya. Little ones would often carry their younger brother or sister. It was very touching, and many of the retreatants took an interest in these kids, giving them fruit, biscuits and clothes.
Venerable Anuruddha said he would like to hire two teachers who could teach the children some basic subjects, like Hindi, math, and English, just for a couple hours a day. So people on the retreat, including Rick Peterson, raised $100 to hire the teachers to pay them $4 per month.
When Rick returned the following January, in 1990, he found the money had not been spent. Instead Ven Anuruddha had formed a committee, with Kabir Saxena from the Root Institute and others, to start a school in another local village. Ven Anuruddha explained that the people from Mastipur had requested him to start a school there as they had no school and most people in their village were illiterate.
This committee, now including Rick, rented a room in the local Sakya Tibetan Temple from the 1st March 1990. They hired 2 local teachers, Preyag Prajapati and Sumitra Devi, paying them very small salaries. There was an opening day ceremony at the Temple and Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessed the new school. Twenty five of the poorest children from the village had been enrolled but when classes started, forty children showed and none were turned away.
Funds were raised to buy a small piece of land where our school is presently located. Two tents were erected and these became the classrooms.
How did the school go from classes in two tents to what it is now?
In 1991 it had become clear that the fledgling school was filling a need. An appeal for funds was made at the end of the Bodhgaya Insight Meditation retreats. Christopher Titmuss, based in the UK, immediately started raising funds, as did Felix Helg in Switzerland. Christopher’s mother gave the first standing monthly bank order to cover the annual education of several children in the new school.
A small group of friends in Australia started a group called the Bodhgaya Development Association, with the primary aim of raising funds for the school and other programs in Bodhgaya. These three: two individuals and one small group of usually six people, were to become the main fundraisers for twenty years.
Corruption is rife in Bihar and the decision was made in 1993 to invite a local order of Catholic nuns, called the Queen of the Apostles, to run the school, in so far as providing a principal and deputy for a multi-religious school.
We continue to feel very grateful for the ongoing support, trustworthy presence and creative initiatives for the smooth running of the school.Several of our teaches have been with the school since the 1990s.
There are now 560 children aged from five years to 16 years who attend the school. The biggest school in Bodh Gaya, the school continues to depend on countless small donations and fund raising initiatives in Australia, Canada, California, England, Switzerland and elsewhere.
Read more about the beloved Pragya Vihar School on the school website and how to donate money for the school.
All the money we raise goes directly to cover the running costs of the school. Our inter-religious school emphasises the academic subjects plus dance, music, the arts, mindfulness, body exercise and friendship.
Bodh Gaya and the Pragya Vihar School, wide screen edition
Visiting students homes in Bodh Gaya
One Day in the Life of the Prajna Vihar School
Past and present Students, and Parents of Prajna Vihar School Speak on the Value of Education
Pragya Vihar School.
Short films by Tom Riddle