INTERNATIONAL DESK: India has seen a great revival of Buddhism in the country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, said a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk as the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) celebrates Abhidhamma Day today.
Abhidhamma Day, a Theravada Buddhist tradition which celebrates Gautama Buddha’s descent from heaven after teaching his mother the Abhidhamma, will take place today.
Some prominent monks from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan will assemble in India’s Uttar Pradesh to celebrate the event.
Buddhist monk Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Mahanayake Thero of Sri Lanka, who is also participating in the event, said, “Today on the eve of the full moon, we, the international Buddhist community, have gathered in India to celebrate this important festival tomorrow. Especially under the Modi government, we see a great revival of Buddhism in India. Buddhism is about compassion and happiness.”
He recalled PM Modi’s message at the United Nations and hailed India’s mission “to save the planet from conflict and violence” through the principles of Buddhism.
“We saw PM Modi recently mentioning at the UN that India has given Buddhism to the world to save the planet from conflict and violence. We all appreciate this global mission. We thank the IBC and the government of India for inviting us here in UP to participate in this much important event,” the monk added.
PM Modi, together with Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, in May this year, participated in the “Shilanyas” ceremony for the construction of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage at a plot in Lumbini belonging to the IBC.
Moreover, a Buddhist Circuit under the Swadesh Darshan Yojana by the Ministry of Tourism has seen the development of 5 projects worth Rs.325.53 crore. The “Buddha Purnima Express” special train has also been started by IRCTC to facilitate travel within the Buddhist Circuit.
Abhidhamma Day is celebrated on the full moon of the seventh month of the Burmese lunar year which starts in April and coincides with the end of the (first) Rains Retreat and the Pavarana festival.
To mark the auspicious day, the IBC, in collaboration with Gautam Buddha University (GBU), Greater Noida, is organizing the International Abhidhamma Divas.
It was at Sankassiya, presently known as Sankisa Basantapur, Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh where the Sakhyamuni descended from the celestial domain of the thirty-three divine beings (Tavatimsa-devaloka) to Sankassiya after teaching Abhidhamma Pitaka (a basket of ultimate things) to his mother.
The Chief Guest at the event will be Dr Ashin Nanissara (Sitagu Sayadaw), Chancellor, Sitagu International Buddhist Academies, Myanmar.
The participation of the Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath, Chancellor, Gautam Buddha University as the Guest of Honour is yet to be confirmed.
The Abhidhamma Divas, last year was organized at Kushinagar at Mahaparinirvana Temple, where the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi was the Chief Guest. He also inaugurated the international airport at the Buddhist pilgrimage town.
According to the Theravada tradition, it is believed that this day is blessed as the Buddha had gone to heaven to teach Abhidhamma Pitaka (a basket of ultimate things) to his mother.
The teaching took three months after which Buddha came back to Earth. His followers too mark the three-month time by staying at one place and praying. It is known as the three-month rainy retreat – Varshavaas or Vassa – for the Buddhist monks and nuns.
The place is documented by the Asokan marker – Asokan Elephant Pillar signifying the importance of the place and of the event. It is noted in the Buddhist texts that after teaching Abhidhamma to the Devas and his mother as witness, he descended here.
Eminent monks from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, ambassadors based in India and other diplomats representing various countries will also take part in the Abhidhamma Divas.
This is the third Flagship program of the IBC; the other two being Buddha Purnima and the Asadha Purnima.
Other highlights of the day’s event include a panel discussion on the ‘Significance of Abhidhamma’, a book launch- titled ‘Recent Development in the studies of Abhidhamma in India’, a screening of the film on IBC’s project in Lumbini and the day concludes with a cultural programme by students of Buddhist Universities.
IBC is a Buddhist umbrella body that serves as a common platform for Buddhists worldwide. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India.
Established under the patronage of the supreme Buddhist religious hierarchy, it currently has a global membership of over 320 monastic and lay organisations, including world bodies, national and regional federations, monasteries, international organizations and institutions.
United by the motto, “Collective Wisdom, United Voice”, IBC aims to make Buddhist values and principles a part of the global discourse by presenting a united Buddhist voice on issues that concern all humankind.
The IBC stands for transparency, inclusiveness and a balanced representation of various traditions, gender and emerging Buddhist communities in Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Praised by followers of Buddha Dharma from around the world for including both Sangha and laity in its governing structure, IBC has been hailed by the international media as a forward-looking, credible and action-oriented World Buddhist umbrella Body.
The IBC also stands for the preservation, development and promotion of Buddhist heritage, both tangible and intangible worldwide, especially the holy sites like Bodh Gaya in India, where Buddha attained Enlightenment, as well as many others.
To gather the collective wisdom of Buddhists around the world to speak with a united Buddhist voice; to make Buddhist values part of global engagement while working to preserve and promote Buddhist heritage, traditions and practices. (ANI)