by Anura Guruge
Their names are Venerable Utsumi and Sister Denise (who I think is the one on the right in the YouTube video below).
The Sister by definition is not a Buddhist monk. She would be the equivalent of a nun. Not sure whether the other one is a bona fide monk. He is not dressed in the dark saffron robes we normally associate with Buddhist monks.
I could be wrong but I think these two represent Nepalese, Tibetan or Bhutan Buddhism — which is not mainstream Theravada or Mahāyāna Buddhism (my background and expertise being in the former, Sri Lanka considered the spiritual home for that school). I haven’t, as yet, been able to find anything more about these two other than that they participated in Ali’s funeral! IF you can help me here I will be most grateful. [Thanks, in advance.]
Increasingly folks in the U.S. are gravitating towards and identifying with Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhism, and creating the impression that this school represents most Buddhist worldwide. Not so. I happened to look up Buddhist temples in Louisville and discovered that they are all Tibetan-centric. C’est la vie.
One thing ironic that Ali, who is said to have arranged how this service was to conducted, may have overlooked. Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhist have zero-experience dealing with Muslims! Not so if he turned to Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka. Just something to think about.
Click to access the 4 minute YouTube video of the drum-embellished chanting. Most Buddhists would not recognize this as a standard Buddhist ritual.
Click to ENLARGE and view here. From my alltime favorite newspaper (so often referenced in this blog), the U.K. “Daily Mail”. The two Buddhists, Venerable Utsumi and Sister Denise appear as the last entry against the “Speakers” — ahead of the “Reading”.
>> Google Footnote, June 10, for Ali.
>> Muhammad Ali “In His Own Words”.
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by Anura Guruge