In 2004, a dear friend Rev Dr Rob Bos had a chance encounter in India with Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy, who we affectionately know as Bunu. The cross cultural group Dostana, ‘Deep and Abiding Friendship’ between the Diocese of Amritsar in the Church of North India and the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia was born. Yesterday I was able to attend the official launch of the Uniting Church’s ownership of the group from my couch online. It was incredible to be a part of this. The ‘love story’ between us is profoundly beautiful.
Over the past 19 years my parents helped establish the Dostana group, and have travelled to India several times to visit the diocese. Bunu and his two wonderful daughters have visited me in my home. I am proud Mausi Shi (Aunty Shi) to Bunu’s two precious granddaughters. Bunu is pictured here embracing his friend, the Dalai Lama. Bunu is a Christian Bishop in the far north of India, an area that includes Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama and his people live in exile. Bunu and the Dalai Lama are close friends and have even celebrated birthdays together. The Dalai Lama’s research with neurosurgeon Richie Davidson into studying meditation and wellbeing has been transformational in my own meditative life.
This is one of the most beautiful images I have ever seen, witnessing the strong bond between the two interfaith leaders. I have wanted to draw it for years, but did not have the shading skills until now. Thank you to Bunu and the Dalai Lama for your love, leadership and legacy. Your love is powerful and I am so grateful for our connection.