My colleagues from the Cabinet present here, Dr. Mahesh Sharma Ji, Mr. Kiren Rijuju Ji, Secretary General of the International Buddhist Foundation, Dr. Dhammapiya Ji, pilgrims from all over the country, ladies and gentlemen!
There's a belief that when a mantra is enchanted by thousands of people together, energy is created. Today we can feel the same energy. When our eyes are open, we can see each other; but at the same time the name of Lord Buddha is echoing in our minds every moment.
The devotion towards Lord Buddha cannot be expressed in words.
Just like people are enchanted by mantras, they are also enchanted by Lord Buddha. I am fortunate to have got this opportunity to be present among you to seek the blessings of the revered religious heads on this sacred occasion of Buddha Purnima.
Just now Mahesh Sharma ji and Kiren Rijuju ji were saying that it’s my second visit. I would have come last year as well but I had to attend a similar event in Sri Lanka for Baisakh. I had got the opportunity to celebrate Buddha Purnima with the Sri Lankan people, Sri Lankan Government and the Buddhist religious leaders who had come from across the world.
We all are very busy and have our own responsibilities. But amidst everything we can get salvation just by chanting Lord Buddha’s name. But the monks present here have dedicated their entire life to spread the message of love and harmony of Lord Buddha. They are walking on the path shown by Lord Buddha. On this occasion, I bow down to all the great souls who are spreading the message of Lord Buddha across the world. I welcome all the people who have come here from different parts of the country. I have got this opportunity to also congratulate those Institutions and individuals who have made efforts and contributions to this work. My best wishes for their future endeavours. I would specifically like to congratulate Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies at Sarnath and All India Bhikshuk Sangh at Bodh Gaya for receiving the Baisakh honour.
This part of the world i.e. our India, has a bountiful of invaluable heritage which can hardly be found elsewhere.
A lot of things has been said and written about Gautam Buddha’s birth, education and Mahaparinirvana over the past several centuries. Fortunately for the present generation, part of it has survived despite several difficulties.
We are proud of the fact that the central theme of all the ideas that have emerged from the soil of our country is human welfare. We are also proud of the fact that in this era of new ideas no one has ever encroached upon other’s rights or feelings. We do not discriminate against each other's ideologies or religion.
We are proud of the fact that all the ideologies that were born out of India have been taken forward upholding the interests of the entire humanity. We have never said and will never say that only those who follow us will be benefitted. Lord Buddha's ideas have not only created a new consciousness; but today his ideas are defining the national character of many countries of Asia.
This is the speciality of this land. Therefore our country and every Indian can proudly say that our tradition is a witness to the fact that India has never encroached upon the interest of any other country. India has never invaded other countries. Our country has been traversing this path and this ideology for the past thousands of years.
The journey from Siddhartha to becoming Gautam Buddha is not just the story of achieving Nirvana. This is the story of the truth that anyone who tries to alleviate the pain and suffering of others with his knowledge and wealth walks on the path of becoming Buddha from Siddhartha. He can walk on that path to achieve wisdom.
On the occasion of Buddha Purnima, every moment we remind ourselves of compassion and brotherhood. At a time when terrorism, racism and separatism are covering the message of Buddha under black clouds, the message of compassion and friendship become all the more relevant and indispensable. Life is not about winning battles with destruction, violence and hatred. Life means winning over hatred, violence and injustice with friendship and compassion.
It is a fact that those who have won over the angry mind with Buddhist meditation could succeed and become immortal. The confluence of truth and compassion can only enlighten the Buddha within us.
Buddha means to turn a violent mind into a pure and calm one. The wrong message of discrimination between human beings on the basis of caste, colour and language will never be given out by India or the Buddha. People of any caste, colour, class or religion have always been accepted with their respective individualities. For example, the Jews or the Parsis, have inter-mingled with us for several thousands of years and have become an integral part of the society. We have never imagined about discriminating against them. Following the principle of equality in our lives in itself means living the life of the Buddha. Buddha became the most admired Mahapurush of the world due to the same harmony and equality. Even Babasaheb Ambedkar had walked on the path shown by Lord Buddha by following his principles.
Today, India is known as the land of Lord Buddha along with its advancement in the mundane fields. It also enhances the greatness of India in the world. 'Budhham sharanam gachhami, Dhammam sharam gachhami, sangham sharanam gachhami' has become the Mantra of the people who teach the lessons of humanity from the holy land of our country to the entire world. Therefore the greatest message on the occasion of Buddha Purnima is ' before you try to change others start transforming yourself; you will also become the Buddha. Before finding faults in others, try to win your inner war; you will also become the Buddha.' 'Apo deepah Aap bhava' which means if you search for the light within yourself then you will also become a Buddha.
Lord Buddha had always been inspiring and spreading the message of compassion and peace. Equality, justice, freedom and human rights are the key values of today's democratic world. But Gautam Buddha had given a clear message regarding these principles about 2500 years ago. In India, it was not a separate idea and was a part of the whole world's vision.
According to Lord Buddha’s philosophy, equality means that every person has a dignified presence on this earth. Every person should be given equal opportunities to access resources and avail the rights without any discrimination.
In every country, every challenge such as terrorism and casteism and other such inequalities have been created by none other than the human beings. These inequalities are the root cause of injustice, exploitation, atrocities, violence and social disharmony. On the other hand, the principles of justice, independence and human rights have emerged from the principle of equality. This means that equality is the basic element of these principles.
If the feeling of equality strengthens in our society then the path towards Social Justice, freedom, Human Rights, social change, personal rights, peace, harmony, and prosperity will open up and we will be able to move forward at a faster pace.
Lord Buddha has discussed 'Ashtang' in his teachings. I believe that without knowing the path of Ashtang it is very difficult to achieve the ideals of Buddha. Lord Buddha’s eightfold path include right views, right thoughts, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right efforts, right consciousness and right consultation.
It is possible to solve the problems that we are facing in today's time by following the path shown by Lord Buddha. In order to save the world from the impending danger it is indispensable to follow the message of love and compassion given by Buddha. Lord Buddha had also said that one can gain strength only by walking on this path.
Lord Buddha was among those philosophers who had understood the need for reasoning. He had emphasized upon the logical test of the principles of his Dharma.
He even used to ask his disciples to test and measure his own ideas based on logic and reasoning without any ego. In the 2nd century, the advice given by Nagarjuna to king Uday for giving shape to Lord Buddha’s messages is still relevant today.
He had said- 'provide the blind, the sick, the deprived, the helpless and the poor with compassion and the provision of food and water in an uninterrupted manner. The patients should be taken care of and the distressed farmers should be provided with assistance such as seeds and the other necessary things’.
The global vision of Lord Buddha was focused on the question that how the suffering of the entire world will come to an end forever? He used to say that it is better to make a person capable of overcoming his sufferings and sorrows than to be sad by looking at that person's misery.
I am glad that our government is moving on the path of compassion and service taking inspiration from Lord Buddha. We give top priority to solutions for reducing the hardship and sorrow of the people.
The government has undertaken several tasks to empower the poor such as opening more than 31 crore bank accounts under Jan Dhan Yojana at a premium of just 90 paise per day and Rupee 1 per month. Approximately 19 crore insurance have been provided to the poor and more than 3 Crore 70 lakh poor women have been provided with free gas connection. More than 3 Crore children and more than 80 lakh pregnant women have been immunised under Mission Indradhanush. More than 12 crore loans have been sanctioned without bank guarantee under the Mudra Yojana. Now under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana the government will be providing 5 Lakh rupees annually to 50 crore poor families to facilitate their treatment.
The ideas of inclusiveness and togetherness had completely transformed Lord Buddha. He was the son of a king. He had all the luxuries in his life; but when he used to see a person suffering and in pain he used to think that he was not different from them and was the same as them.
This truth gave him a vision - a sense of wisdom, rationality, cognition, ethics and charisma began to emerge as a power within him.
The more we absorb this feeling today, the more we will be able to become true human beings first. It is necessary to do this for the sake of humanity and to make the 21st century as the most important century of the world.
Brothers and sisters,
Even after such a long period of enslavement, proper efforts were not made to save the cultural heritage of our country. The country that cannot preserve its history and does not bequeath to its future generations the same grandeur of the heritage can never achieve perfection. Keeping this in view, our government is also working on a great vision for its cultural heritage and for preserving the memories related to Lord Buddha.
There are about 18 such states in our country where there is some or the other pilgrimage centres associated with Lord Buddha. Some of them are more than 2000 years old and attract tourists from across the world. In such a scenario, it is indispensable to develop world class facilities in these places according to the needs of the people. Keeping this in view, Buddhist circuit is being developed under the Swadesh Darshan scheme.
The government has sanctioned more than Rs. 360 crores for the Buddhist circuit. Buddhist sites in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat are being developed.
Besides, the Ministry of Road Transport has been developing the necessary facilities on the roadside of Gaya-Varanasi-Kushinagar route. International conclave on Buddhism is also being organised every 2 years by the Ministry of Tourism. This year, scholars from different parts of the world will be attending this programme. The objective of similar programmes is to inform maximum people about our cultural heritage so that people from the other countries also come and visit the Buddhist sites and obtain knowledge about them. Besides, the central government is also assisting the neighbouring countries for protection of the Buddhist heritage. The Restoration and chemical preservation of Myanmar's Bagan and Ananda temples is going on at a rapid pace by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). This temple was devastated due to the earthquake that had occurred 2 years ago.
The ASI is also involved in conserving the temples of other countries like Bamiyan of Afghanistan, Cambodia's Angkor Vat and Ta Prohm, Vat Phou of Laos and Vietnam's My Son Temple. It is also engaged in conserving the Gandan monastery's manuscripts and their digitisation in Mongolia.
Today I want to request from this platform to some central government Ministries. How to bring all the translation and preservation work of Buddha’s teaching compilation – ‘Tripitaka’ associated with the Buddhist philosophy being done by the various institutions on a single platform? Can we develop a new portal where we can get the teachings of Lord Buddha in simple words and also the work done by these institutions? I would like to appeal to Mr Mahesh Sharma ji to take the leadership of this project and make efforts to complete this project within a specific time frame.
It is a privilege to all of us that even after 2500 years the teachings of Lord Buddha are still with us. When I say that it is a privilege then also think about the reasons why I am saying this.
Of course our ancestors have had a major role in their preservation. Thanks to the contribution made by our previous generations that we are able to organize such events on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. Our previous generations had made ceaseless efforts in preserving this heritage for 2500 years in order to bequeath it to the future generations. Now the upcoming human history is waiting for your active role and for your resolutions.
After going back, I want you all to think of 5 or 10 resolutions that you want to fulfil by the year 2022 when our country will be celebrating 75 years of Independence. These resolutions can be associated with anything such as protection, preservation of our cultural heritage or spreading the teachings of Gautam Buddha. However, it is my request that every person, institution and organization present here today should make some resolutions to be fulfilled by the year 2022. Your efforts will help in fulfilling the resolution of a New India. We are aware of the challenges. We have the blessings of Lord Buddha. Therefore I believe that we will definitely fulfil our resolutions.
Today on the sacred occasion of Buddha Purnima I have got this opportunity to sit beside the feet of Lord Buddha, to seek his blessings and to meet you all. I consider myself blessed.
Once again my best wishes to you all for Buddha Purnima. With this I end my speech.
Thanks a lot!