Our History and Mission
Karuna Buddhist Society was established and registered on September 20, 2002, as a nonprofit Buddhist organization to practice and promote Buddhism. After years of dedication, in 2008 we bought a 663 sf house on a half-acre land in Golondrina Drive to expand our mission. But the house was very congested and can’t accommodate the devotees in indoor activities. Due to various obstacles, and struggles, we waited more than another decade to purchase a sufficient property which is the present one on Pacific Street.
In the 1990s, several Chakma Buddhist families migrated to the US for the first time via a DV visa. And then more came in the 2000s. Chakma is an ethnic minority native to India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Due to their racial and religious identity, most of the time they become subjects of religious and ethnic discrimination. Most of the migrated Chakma families in California are from Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and several families are from Northeast India. After migrating to the US with new hopes and dreams, they had to struggle like any other immigrants to settle down in the land of opportunities and freedom.
As an indigenous ethnic minority, we are too concerned about the preservation of our language, script, belief, culture and tradition. Being a Buddhist community, we strongly felt the need for a Buddhist temple with Chakma monks. Due to the language barrier for seniors and juniors, we struggled to practice Buddhism in another temple. We are a tiny community in the US, and it took us almost 3 decades to purchase a property and establish a temple. It required a lot of dedication and sacrifice by the devotees. Karuna Buddhist Society was established on September 20, 2002, and purchased a 663 sf house on a half acre of land in 2008. At that time, we had no monks except our senior and respected monk Ven. Bimal Bhante of Bodhicariya, Kolkata used to visit and bless us time by time from India. He is the one who motivated and encouraged us to establish a Buddhist center in San Bernardino. We needed Chakma monks who would preach Dhamma in the Chakma language to elders who do not know English and English for our new generation and English speakers.
Thus, our present abbot Ven. Upagupta Bhante was introduced by Ven. Bimal Bhante was invited from Hong Kong University in 2011. After his arrival, he served in that tiny 663 sf house for almost a decade until we purchased another property with sufficient accommodation for all devotees and residential monks. In 2018, other Chakma monks joined the monastic team to expand and extend religious services for the Karuna Buddhist Society. All the monks are multilingual and fluent in English, making it more convenient and effective for religious services and other humanitarian activities for the community.
From the very beginning, our sole mission is to propagate Buddha’s wise teachings and promote individual happiness, mindfulness, lovingkindness, compassion and worldly wellbeing. We welcome all faiths, traditions, LGBTs and anyone seeking happiness, Buddhism, Meditation techniques, and an ethical way of living with Buddhist principles. As Buddha taught, “come and see” is an open invitation for all who are seeking Dhamma, for Truth with pure intention. Let’s join us and accumulate good Karma with good practices for our own happiness and for others’ well-being.
Meanwhile, we also engage in various charitable and humanitarian activities as per our capacities. As we mentioned before, we may live in the US, a prosperous country but there are thousands of people we left behind who have no proper education, or life skill and sometimes face racial and religious discrimination in our native countries. The Covid Pandemic worst worsened those vulnerable families including our relatives, friends and many people we know. This is why, we also individually or collectively sponsor scholarships for those students who can’t afford them, especially in Bangladesh and India. We have distributed relief rations for the Covid-affected families for several times during this ongoing pandemic. You may visit our donation page and select the donation option if you wish to participate in such educational and charitable programs.
Meet Our Monastic Team
Our monastic team is fully committed to providing for all the religious and spiritual needs of the diverse community. Our monastic team is fully committed to providing for all the diverse community’s religious and spiritual needs. Monastics provide various kinds of religious and other cultural ceremonies held by the Karuna Buddhist Society. They overlook and organize most of the religious events with devotees.
Every 2 years, the executive body is elected in the presence of monks and general members of the Karuna Buddhist Society. As fundamental respect, abbot and residential Buddhist monks always overlook all the activities and the executive body and members always make monks informed and aware of any kind of general decision. There are no paid positions but all of the elected bodies and subscribed members are volunteers and working for the Karuna Buddhist Society for spiritual development and cultural harmony and peace. Even though we may have an official body but all the members have the right to speak up and share ideas for the benefit and development of the organization. Each member including the executive body and general members commits to a monthly donation to the Karuna Buddhist Society and its religious and charity activities.
General Secretary (2022-present)
Financial Secretary (2022-present)