The Awakening of a New Bodhisattva of the Earth

Kavita and her son. Through battling her son’s illness, Kavita transformed from a fearful woman to an empowered person.

Kavita Sinha
Women Division

I am a mother of a 15-year-old boy who “introduced” me to this faith when he was just 18 months old. We were living in India then and he was born with multiple medical issues, including difficulty in swallowing and digesting milk, breathing and balance. Then around the time Anish was turning one, the doctors said that some of his nerves were damaged which would also cause total hearing loss in both ears. The doctor’s prognosis was stark: “Mrs Sinha, don’t harbour any hope for your son. Teach him simple sign language so that he can at least communicate his basic needs.”

At that time, I was already a mother of a 7-year-old girl and doing really well in my professional life. I took the news of my son’s prognosis really badly. I went into a depression, afraid for my son’s bleak future. I lived in constant fear of losing him in a medical emergency or an accident. This fear crippled me mentally; it destroyed my wisdom and my relationship with my husband and daughter. I constantly fought with my husband for travelling so frequently on business trips and not helping with my son’s endless hospital visits. My daughter was afraid of my mood swings. The environment in my home was like hell.

Stranger to the Rescue

I was at my lowest life condition when a good friend introduced me to Nichiren Buddhism. I began chanting the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo out of desperation but with little faith. Several months passed and just as I was almost giving up, actual proof appeared.

My friend had dragged me to a Women Division (WD) meeting. She was the emcee and left me sitting awkwardly among strangers while going about her role. The stranger next to me asked out of concern why I looked sad. I responded that my son was sick and there seemed to be nobody who could help him. I accepted her offer to introduce me to her tenant, an American student researcher doing research on support for children born with diseases and disabilities.

Two days later, my phone rang. A young woman with an American accent explained that her landlady had given her my telephone number and she would like to meet me and hear my story as part of her research. I accepted out of politeness. We met just a few days before she left New Delhi. When she heard my story, she was stunned. She had personally suffered similar symptoms and offered to introduce me to her specialist in New York, who agreed to see us on a Saturday — when the specialist centre was normally closed.

The trip to New York and back was a nightmare. I went through days of meeting with the doctor in the day and working remotely through the night with hardly any sleep, and chanting daimoku whenever possible. But that appointment in New York changed our lives completely. The doctor conducted the tests herself and recommended the best course forward for my son. The treatment and surgeries were very expensive. She then introduced us to a surgeon of Indian origin practising in the UK who was considering setting up a practice in Delhi. My son became the first Indian child that doctor operated on in Delhi later that year in 2007. The cost in Delhi was a quarter of the cost in the US but still a huge amount for my husband and me. Our application for loans were approved, but before we could complete the process, a previous company where I worked contacted me out of the blue to remind me that I had money in the employee’s savings account that I had not withdrawn. The savings was just enough to pay for my son’s operations!

This was truly a blessing from the Gohonzon. Since then my son underwent two more surgeries. Both surgeries went smoothly, and my son recovered well each time. Today, 15-year-old Anish is a confident high schooler, speaks English, Spanish and Hindi, and has a great network of friends.

Manifesting the Great Empowering Principle of “Oneness of Life and Environment”

Looking back on my 12 years of faith practice, I realise what changed the course of our lives is something that is the core of our practice: a strong determination to not be defeated, strong faith, practice for oneself and others (I was a leader in India), and deep study of the fundamentals of our faith and guidance from our eternal mentors (Soka Gakkai founding President Makiguchi, second President Toda and SGI President Ikeda). My strong determination and prayers for absolute happiness for myself and my son was supported by compassionate leaders and members who stood steadfastly by me, guiding me and helping me through my most difficult days.

I attended discussion meetings through my son’s illness, held meetings at our home, participated in activities, accompanied my leaders for home visits, studied The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin (Gosho) and Ikeda Sensei’s essays and books.

This Gosho on “The Three Kinds of Treasure” helped me in carrying out my human revolution: “It is rare to be born a human being. The number of those endowed with human life is as small as the amount of earth one can place on a fingernail… More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. From the time you read this letter on, strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart!” (WND-1, p. 851)

And another Gosho on “Reply to Kyo-o” encouraged me to continue moving forward in awakening my son to his true identity as a Bodhisattva of the Earth: “This is what the sutra means by ‘the power that has the lion’s ferocity’. Believe in this mandala with all your heart. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (WND-1, p. 412)

I slowly understood the principle of “simultaneity of cause and effect”. My earlier fears and inherent negativity were the cause of my own and my family’s karma. When I changed that negativity to the positivity of practice for oneself and others, along with a strong determination to not be defeated, I created good causes, and good effects followed. I also understood the great empowering principle of “oneness of life and environment”, that is, if I changed myself, my environment was bound to change. Once I took responsibility for being the change I sought to see outside, my faith paved the way for great victories. My challenges did not miraculously disappear when I started practising Nichiren Buddhism. What changed was how I approached them.

My immediate family members have become believers of Nichiren Buddhism, too, having witnessed my son’s journey in life and my transformation from a fearful woman with depression to an empowered person with a deep reserve of strength. Moving forward, I am determined to share my experience to encourage other mothers and children to overcome their challenges through faith and support them on the development of young leaders.

(Adapted from September 2020 issue of Creative Life)