With a few friends of mine, I have recently initiated the establishment of the Hungarian Bhutan Friendship Society that aims to provide information about the Kingdom of Bhutan in my home country, Hungary. The Society’s goal is to encourage and promote knowledge and understanding of Bhutan in Hungary and create links between the two countries. It's a very exciting venture we all look forward to.
The inaugural event of the Society took place with great success on 15th September at ELTE University in Budapest with around 200 people attended. Our honorable guest speaker was Dr Karma Phuntsho, cultural expert and Buddhist scholar from the University of Cambridge. His talk was titled “The Journeys of the Thunder Dragon: Bhutan's transition from a medieval country to a postmodern happiness state”.
"Bhutan is roughly the size of Switzerland with 38,394 km2, so less than half of Hungary" - said Dr Karma in his talk - "But, it is a vertical country. So, if we flatten our slopes, we will be bigger than you."
Dr Karma Phuntsho was trained as a Buddhist monk in Bhutan and India, and received D.Phil in Oriental Studies in Oxford. He is currently Research Associate at the Department of Social Anthropology at University of Cambridge and Editor of the Oxford Journal for Buddhist Studies dividing his time between Bhutan and England.
Dr Karma specializes in Buddhism, Tibetan & Himalayan Studies and Bhutan, and has published a number of books, translations, book reviews and articles on Buddhism, Bhutan and Tibetan Studies. He is also founder and trustee of the Loden Foundation, Bhutan’s first registered charity that supports education and youth entrepreneurship and where I was a volunteer.
In Budapest, Dr Karma talked about Bhutan, its history, distinctive culture and the country’s unique approach to social and economic development based on Gross National Happiness (GNH) as well as Bhutan's exciting transition from a medieval country to a postmodern state. His talk was very timely given that the UN General Assembly has recently adopted a non-binding resolution that aims to make happiness a "development indicator” - based on Bhutan’s proposal and with the support of 66 countries, including the UK.
At the end of his talk, he presented us a Bhutanese thangka portraying the four harmonious animal friends and delivered his best wishes for the new friendship society. The event took place in collaboration with the Hungarian-Indian Friendship Society and generated excitement and interest among a number of Hungarians wishing to discover Bhutan.