For the past month or so I have been on a photoshoot at the cave temples in Maharasthra, and at the stupas at Sanchi. Along the way I received much help: first of all our helpful driver for the first week, Vishal, who was Buddhist and could provide much local knowledge, helped us get around the various sites near to Lonavala.
When we reached Sanchi the Sri Lankan monks at the Mahābodhi Society were particularly helpful in many and varied ways, and we have to thank the monk-in-charge Ven Banagala Wimalatissa Thero for all the help he gave us while we were there.
In Aurangabad we were received by Ven. Sangha Ratna whom I had met on Facebook, and who turned our to be a very kind and able 17-year old novice who organised our trip around the city and to Ellora and Ajanta, despite having exams on at the time. We stayed with him in the Bodhisattva Buddha Vihar under the guidance of his teacher Ven Rāhula, and were pleased to meet and share some experiences with the local Buddhists of the area also.
* * *
My main thanks however has to go to Dr Kok Poe Chu, who volunteered as my kappiya for the trip. A kappiya is principally someone who handles money for monks, who are not allowed to under the vinaya rules, but Dr Kok was much more than just a steward: he straight away undertook 8-precepts and kept them strictly all the way through, he organised both accommodation and transport; acted as lighting director for the photography; carried the main part of the bags on site to save my strength – and never complained about the time, heat and many difficulties we encountered. He was indeed the ideal kappiya. Here he is – not at work for once – but getting in some meditation at Sanchi. A big sādhu to Dr Kok for all the help he provided along the way.