Buddha’s teachings offer solution to global problems
Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted the Buddha had preached about abandoning war, defeat and victory for eternal peace, and said enmity can never be countered with enmity
NEW DELHI: Lord Buddha’s teachings are the basis for solutions to the greatest challenges confronting the world, including war, economic instability, terrorism and climate change, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the first Global Buddhist Summit on Thursday.
Addressing the inaugural session of the meet that was attended by Buddhist spiritual leaders from across the world, diplomats and representatives of influential organisations, PM Modi said the Buddha had provided a solution centuries ago for the war and unrest that the world is currently grappling with.
The two-day summit, jointly hosted by the culture ministry and the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), is being seen as part of the Indian government’s efforts to strengthen the country’s credentials as a leading player in Buddhism, especially at a time when rival China has sought to host similar meetings.
The IBC is supported by the Indian government and more than 300 delegations were set to participate in the summit. Some 170 foreign delegates from countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Mexico are participating, and Vietnam and Sri Lanka have sent large delegations for the summit, whose theme is “Responses to contemporary challenges: Philosophy to praxis”.
“It is universally accepted that today’s era is the most challenging time of this century. Today…two countries are at war for months [and] the world is going through economic instability. Threats such as terrorism and religious fanaticism are attacking the soul of humanity. A challenge like climate change is looming large over the existence of humanity,” Modi said, speaking in Hindi.
But amid all this, there are millions who have faith in the Buddha and believe in the welfare of all living beings, and “this faith is the biggest strength of the earth”, Modi said in a speech peppered with quotations from Buddhist scriptures. He noted the Buddha had preached about abandoning war, defeat and victory for eternal peace, and said enmity can never be countered with enmity.
Lord Buddha also said happiness lies in unity and living together with all people, Modi emphasised. “There is no problem in the modern world whose solution we cannot find in the teachings of the Buddha hundreds of years ago. The Buddha had provided a solution centuries ago to the war and unrest the world is suffering from today,” he said.
“The path of the Buddha is the path of the future and of sustainability. Had the world followed the Buddha’s teachings, it would not have faced the problem of climate change,” Modi said, adding that this problem arose because countries stopped thinking about others and future generations.
Every person can contribute towards fighting climate change, Modi said while pointing to India’s “Lifestyle For Environment” or LiFE initiative, which has been influenced by the teachings of the Buddha.
The Indian government has worked to take the Buddha’s teachings to the people, and this includes steps such as the development of the Buddhist circuit in India and Nepal, rejuvenating pilgrimage centres such as Sarnath and Kushinagar, building an India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage at Lumbini with India’s cooperation, he said.
The Buddha’s legacy also inspired India’s moves to help other countries affected by calamities such as the recent earthquake in Turkey. “This emotion of 1.4 billion Indians is being seen, understood and accepted by the world,” he said.
The IBC is helping create new opportunities for like-minded countries to spread Buddhism and peace, and discussions on how to handle current challenges hold a ray of hope for the world. Countries have to abandon narrow thinking and focus on poverty-stricken people and other nations affected by a lack of resources, as this is the only way to establish a better world, Modi said.
The session was also addressed by culture minister G Kishan Reddy and law minister Kiren Rijiju, while ministers of state for culture Arjun Ram Meghwal and Meenakshi Lekhi, and International Buddhist Confederation secretary general Dhammapiya were present on the occasion.
The prime minister visited a photo exhibition and offered flowers to a Buddha statue. He also offered monk’s robes or “chivar dana” to 19 eminent monks, including representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, South Korea, Australia and Mexico.