Modi opens Hindu-Buddhist conclave in New Delhi


Our Special Correspondent

Indian PM Modi with former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

NEW DELHI, September 3: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a three-day Hindu-Buddhist conclave here today. It is being attended by a large number of delegates from several Buddhist countries including Sri Lanka, Japan, Mongolia and Cambodia, among others.

"Hindu and Buddhist religions are more philosophies and not just belief systems. It is my firm belief that the solution to all problems lies in dialogue," Modi said at ‘Samvad: Global Hindu Buddhist Initiative on Conflict Avoidance and Environment Consciousness’.

The three-day event is being held by Vivekananda International Foundation and it will shift to the holy Buddhist town of Bodhgaya on the last day on September 5.

Voicing concern over violent non-state actors controlling large territories across the world and unleashing "barbaric violence," Modi said that ideologies should give way to dialogue in order to resolve conflicts. "Intolerant non-state actors now control large territories where they are unleashing barbaric violence on innocent people... The severe limitations in our conflict resolution mechanisms are becoming more and more obvious. It is, thus, no surprise that the world is taking note of Buddhism," he said.

The world should shift from the path of ideologies, which close the gates for dialogue, to philosophy to avoid conflict. "Ideology only believes in unabated truth. So ideologies which close the gates for dialogue have the propensity for violence while philosophy seeks to avoid it though dialogue.

"Hindu and Buddhist religions are in that sense more philosophies and not just belief systems. It is my firm belief that the solution to all problems lies in dialogue," Modi said.

Making a pitch for India as a prime religious destination for tourists from Buddhist countries, he said: "My government is doing everything possible to give an impetus to the Buddhist heritage across India, and India is taking the lead in boosting the Buddhist heritage across Asia. This three-day meet is one such effort. You are visiting a nation that is extremely proud of its Buddhist heritage," he said.

He said this century is going to be an Asian century and he was very clear that without embracing the path and ideals shown by Buddha, it cannot be. "I see Lord Buddha doing to our collective spiritual well-being what global trade did to our collective economic well-being and the digital Internet did to our collective intellectual well-being," he said.

Modi cited the ancient Hindu and Buddhist beliefs to make his pitch for drawing up on the tenets of these ancient religions to fight climate change and avert conflicts.

He said Buddhism, along with other Asian faiths like Confucianism and Taoism, has undertaken greater responsibility to protect the environment. "I want to say that we, the present generation, have the responsibility to act as a trustee of the rich natural wealth for the future generations. The issue is not merely about climate change; it is about climate justice.

The most adversely affected by climate change are the poor and the downtrodden," he said.

Hinduism and Buddhism with their well-defined treatises on Mother Earth can help examine the changes in approach that need to be made, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga said terrorism is an extreme manifestation of long unresolved issues and inclusive and sustainable development is key to resolve such conflicts. Treating all communities as one is very important, she said.

Later, she called on Modi. A video message of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was also played on the occasion which was also addressed by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

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