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Dr Sitangshu Bikash Barua (1944-2004) was a Bengali Buddhist academic and social reformer (ref). He was a highly respected surgeon, academic, educator, writer, publisher and renowned philanthropist. He was the first Bengali Buddhist who obtained FCPS(Fellow of college of physicians and surgeons, Bangladesh).

Early Life Sitangshu Barua was born on 5th May 1944 in Rauzan, Chittagong. His father, Master Nibaran Chandra Barua was a high school teacher. Sitangshu was greatly influenced by the discipline and simplicity of his parents. Sitangshu’s mother died when he was thirteen. His father played the role of both mother and father to his children. Sitangshu passed intermediate from Chittagong College in 1961 and obtained his MBBS degree from Chittagong Medical College in 1967.

Career Immediately after graduation in 1968, Dr Barua joined Chittagong Medical College, exhibiting great dedication as anatomy demonstrator. He worked in Sir Sollimullah Medical College Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital and subsequently obtained his fellowship from the Bangladesh College of Physician and Surgeons in 1977. Following this, Dr Barua served as a residential surgeon in Chittagong Medical College until the corruption of the Bangladeshi civil service in 1980, when he resigned from the government sector and continued as private practitioner for the remainder of his life. He gained respect as the poor people's surgeon and a compassionate philanthropist. He contributed financial support towards the welfare of Buddhist monasteries, and provided free medical and surgical treatment for monks and their relatives.

(Dr Barua felt very distressed and compassionate whenever he saw poor patients. Though he was very outspoken and blunt in his mannerism, he was very kind for his patients. He always responded to distress calls of poor people and monks.)

Social Reforms He organised “Rouzan Sebok Sangha” (English translation here?) in 1992. It was a grassroots organisation providing free medical treatment to the destitute within the Rouzan county of Bangladesh. Dr Barua believed education to be a means of creating social reforms. In 1993, he set up “Surjadhan Viddya Pith”, a school offering free moral teachings and literary skills to village children.

Literary Work Dr Barua was a prolific scholar. His published works include the following: In English: Buddhism in Bangladesh (1990) (1) In Bengali: Chattagrame Boudhader Itihas (1981), Saranang Gacchami (1982), Shantarakhit Mahasthabir (1985), Dr Benimadhab Barua Jibon and Darshan (1986), Prathamik Bouddha Dharmo Shikkha and Kuddhk Patt (1988), Dasha Parami and Chriya Pitakh (1988), Munindrajir Jibon and Bidarshan Bhabona (1988), Dhatukatha (1990), Dui Hajar Sale Boudha Darmo (1991), Shrimat Budh Rakkhit Mahastabir (1993), Arjametriya Buddha (1995), Boudha Sahitte Chikitsha Bebostha (1995,) Boudha Paribarik Ayne (1997), Bangladesh Therabada Budha Darma Bikashe and Shrimat Shilalanker Mohastabirer Abadan (2001). He also wrote over a fifty essays and speeches which were published in different journals (1,2).

Later Life He was a member of the Pali Book Society (London), International Meditation Centre (Buddhagaya, India), Mahābodhi Society of India (Calcutta), Bangla Academy (Dhaka), Ma O Shishu Hospital (Chittagong, Bangladesh), and Surgeons Society (Chittagong, Bangladesh). In recognition of his contribution to Buddhist studies, he was awarded the title of ‘Shason Sebok’ by the pundits of Bangladesh Buddhists Community. He also received the gold medal for Bangladesh by the American Biographical institute. He died on 27th May 2004 in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

References 1. BuddhaNet - Buddhism in Bangladesh 2. Buddhism in Bangladesh – by M.A. TAHER

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