When a conservator and stamp collector finds Buddha


Lokeswara Rao discusses his life and teachings through philatelic materials, including stamps & postcards

It’s no surprise that many stamps of M Lokeswara Rao are related to nature. As Nagaland’s former Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, he lived in the midst of wildlife. But about one-third of Mr. Rao’s stamp collection is on Buddhism. In his book, Buddhism on Stamps, which was released on Thursday, he discusses the life and teachings of Buddha through 1,134 philatelic materials, including stamps and postcards.

“I took to painting Buddha in 2014 as a stress-relieving hobby. Two years later, when I retired, I started the stamp collection. I am not a Buddhist but I like the teachings of Buddha because they are about peace and nature,” he said.

Mr. Rao started working on the book six months ago. “COVID-19 resulted in destruction and crises across the world. And people were losing their peace of mind. So, I thought a book on the teachings of Buddha will be relevant for this time.”

Sri Lanka’s stamps

The Twelve Deeds of Buddha stamp, released by Bhutan in 2014, is among Mr. Rao’s favourites in his collection. “It talks about the complete life of Buddha from his birth till he attains mahaparinirvana,” he says. “Sri Lanka has issued 20 new postage stamps depicting remarkable Buddhist places of worship in 20 countries to commemorate the United Nations Vesak Festival of 2561 BE in 2017.”

Mr. Rao’s collection has about 5,000 stamps from over 50 countries going back to the late 19th century. He has won several awards including a ‘large silver medal’ for his exhibit, Buddhism, at the Sydney Stamp and Coin Expo 2019.

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Apart from Buddhism, Mr. Rao also collects orchids and Penny Red stamps.

 

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Sagar Biswas

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