Key Speakers and Performers

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche is a profound and sublime Buddhist teacher as well as a prolific writer. At the age of seven, he was recognised by His Holiness Sakya Trizin as the third incarnation of the founder of the Khyentse lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.

He inherited the responsibility of being the head of the renowned Dzongsar Monastery in Tibet and also created the Dzongsar Institute in India. Rinpoche is currently responsible for the care and education of approximately 1600 monks distributed between six monasteries and institutions in Asia. Rinpoche also founded and guides Siddhartha’s Intent, several contemporary teaching and practice centers established in various continents, as well as the Khyentse Foundation and Lotus Outreach.

One of his many ambitious and impactful projects, '84000', is a 100-year global initiative involving nearly 200 scholars and translators to translate all the Buddha’s teachings into English.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is the author of 'What Makes You Not a Buddhist' and 'Not for Happiness', books on Buddhist philosophy and practice that also shatter many of the misconceptions and stereotypes associated with Buddhism. He has made three highly acclaimed films, The Cup, Travellers and Magicians and Vara: A Blessing and is soon to release his latest movie titled Hema Hema.

He will be gracing us with a teaching on the Buddha on 11th November at the Mahabodhi Temple.

Professor Mahesh Deokar

Professor Mahesh Deokar was introduced to Buddha's philosophy through his love for the Sanskrit language. It was this philosophy that later inspired him to take up Pali, also known as Magadhi, the language in which Buddhist philosophy is documented.

After graduating from Mumbai University in 1992, Professor Deokar moved to Pune to pursue a career in Sanskrit. His teaching career began in 1996 spanning colleges and universities across India. In 1999, he visited Kanzava University in Japan to study Tibetan grammar. After returning from Japan in the year 2000, he decided to write his doctoral thesis on Pali.

Living life as per Buddha's teachings – Neti-Neti, meaning ‘not this-not this’ that guides one to transcend beyond materialistic possessions and worldly sorrows to find permanent happiness – Professor Mahesh Deokar's story is a true example of what it takes to follow the teachings, staying true to every word.

He will be talking about the significance of Bodhgaya as the birthplace of Siddhartha.

Suresh Bauddha

Suresh Bauddha, a post graduate in Pali language from Nav Nalanda Mahavihar, is a proud follower of the Buddha’s teachings. According to him, being an Indian makes him responsible for spreading the Buddha’s teachings to all beings through each action of his; physical, mental and spiritual. Suresh has travelled to countries like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Korea and Afghanistan and is currently the President of the Youth Buddhist society of India, which he founded in 1986. He believes that the Buddha’s teachings are the only way to safeguard the future of coming generations.

Raji Ramanan

A student of Science and Literature, Raji Ramanan possesses deep interest and knowledge in Indian tradition, comparative religion, classical languages and philosophy.

She has been associated with the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Delhi for many years and edited the once-a-month talk series organised by the Foundation, and published by Full Circle.

She will be leading the chanting and group recitals at the Siddhartha Festival.

Asha Pillai

Asha Pillai, a post graduate in personnel management and a certified MBTI practitioner is currently the executive director of the World Centre for Creative Learning (WCCL) Foundation. She started her career as a management consultant and facilitator. Her work involved training in areas such as management effectiveness, leadership, team building, and personal effectiveness. In her present role, her major area of work and interest has been integrating and highlighting the Indian Mind Traditions in the Foundation’s courses, and bringing those traditions back to the daily lives of people in simple and practical ways.

Under the guidance of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche and with his blessings, she along with her team has engaged in various Dharma activities in Pune since 2006. She is also a visiting faculty member at the University of Pune, where she teaches the course “Applied Mahayana Buddhist Psychology & Ethics”.

She presently resides in Pune, with her husband Zubin and son Amay.

At the Siddhartha Festival, she will talk about the significance of the Bodhi Tree in the Buddha’s life.

Maneesha Abhay

Disciple of the prodigious Rohini Bhate, Maneesha Abhay is a professional Kathak dancer who has built an illustrious background of elegant and flawless performances over the last 20 years. Addressing issues like Women Empowerment and Global Warning through her graceful and impactful body movements, she not only enjoys dancing but educates through it.

A few of her endeavours involve performing at the ‘Konark Festival’ in Orissa, a city of immense architectural beauty; gracing the religiously enriching ‘Khajurao Mandu’ Festival in Madhya Pradesh and conducting various workshops in the U.K., Germany, France and Singapore. Currently a resident of Maharashtra she runs a prestigious institution called, ‘Suruti Kathak Academy’ where she exposes 80 young dance enthusiasts to her commendable skills and unmatched understanding of Kathak.

Vidya Rao

Vidya Rao – recipient of a Fellowship from the Ford Foundation and a Senior Fellowship from the Ministry of Culture (Government of India) – is a performer of thumri-dadra and ghazal. A disciple of the legendary singer, late Vidushi Naina Devi, Vidya continued her study of this form under Vidushi Shanti Hiranand and Vidushi Girija Devi. She is also trained in khayal under late Prof. B.N. Datta and thereafter under Pandit Mani Prasad.

She has performed at national and international forums to appreciative audiences, conducted workshops along with lecture-demonstrations and composed for theatre, film and dance. Her repertoire ranges over thumri-dadra, ghazal and allied forms, the songs of medieval sufi and bhakti poets, verses from Hindu and Buddhist texts and the Islamic forms of naat, soz, nauha etc.

She will be gracing the Siddhartha Festival with a soulful vocal performance.


is a collaborative effort by the following organisations:


Lead photographer: Pawo Choyning Dorji  |  Cinematographer: Jigme Tenzing  |  Team: Pema Abrahams, Raymond Steiner and Winnie Alamsjah



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