The Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Smt Anandiben Patel ji, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Yogi Adityanath ji, my colleagues in the cabinet Shri G. Kishan Reddy ji, Shri Kiren Rijiju ji, Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia ji, Shri Namal Rajapaksa, Cabinet Minister in the Sri Lankan Government who has arrived at Kushinagar, other highly revered dignitaries from Sri Lanka, our other guests, Excellencies Ambassadors in India from Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Bhutan and South Korea, senior diplomats from Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Japan, Singapore, Nepal and other countries, all respected monks and all the followers of Lord Buddha!
This holy day is the full moon day of the month of Ashwin, the holy land of Kushinagar, and the visible presence of Lord Buddha in the form of his relics! By the grace of Lord Buddha, many transcendental congregations and coincidences are happening together on this day. Just before coming here, I have had the privilege of inaugurating the Kushinagar International Airport. Crores of Buddha followers from all over the world will get the opportunity to come here and their journey will be smooth due to Kushinagar International Airport. The very reverend (Buddhist) Confederation, respected monks and our friends have arrived at Kushinagar from the inaugural flight from Sri Lanka which landed at this international airport. Your presence is a symbol of the thousands of years old spiritual, religious and cultural heritage of India and Sri Lanka.
We all know that the message of Buddhism in Sri Lanka was first carried from India by Emperor Ashoka's son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra. It is believed that on this day, 'Arahat Mahinda' came back and told his father that Sri Lanka had accepted the Buddha's message with so much positivity. This news had strengthened the belief that Buddha's message is for the entire world and Buddha's Dhamma is for humanity. Therefore, this day is also a day to reinvigorate the age-old cultural ties of all our countries. I congratulate all of you that you are present at the Maha-Parinirvana place of Lord Buddha today. I also extend a warm welcome to our honored guests from Sri Lanka and all other countries. I also respectfully bow to our revered (Buddhist) Confederation (members), who are present to bless us. You have given all of us the privilege to have a glimpse of relics of Lord Buddha. After this program in Kushinagar, you are also going to my parliamentary constituency Varanasi. Your visit will bring good fortune there too.
I also congratulate all the members of the International Buddhist Confederation today. The way you are spreading the message of Lord Buddha in the modern world is really commendable. On this occasion, I am also remembering my old colleague Shri Shakti Sinha ji. Shakti Sinha, who was working as the DG of the International Buddhist Confederation, passed away a few days ago. His faith in Lord Buddha and his dedication is an inspiration to all of us.
As all of you know, today is another momentous occasion -- the return of Lord Buddha to earth from Tushita (heaven)! That’s why our monks also complete their three-month 'Varshavas' (rainy retreat) on Ashwin Purnima. Today I too have had the privilege of donating 'chiver’ to the monks of Confederation after the ‘Varshavas’. This realization of Lord Buddha is wonderful, which gave birth to such traditions! In the rainy months, nature, the trees and plants around us start new life. The message of Buddha to take a resolution of non-violence towards living beings and the belief of seeing God in plants as well is so eternal that our monks continue to follow it. The monks, who are always active and mobile, take a break in these three months so that no sprouting seed gets crushed and there is no obstruction in the shining nature! This ‘Varshavas’ not only blooms the nature outside, but also gives an opportunity to refine the nature inside us.
The instruction of Dhamma is: यथापि रुचिरं पुप्फं, वण्णवन्तं सुगन्धकं। एवं सुभासिता वाचा, सफलाहोति कुब्बतो
That is, if good speech and good thoughts are practiced with the same devotion, then its result is the same as a flower with fragrance! Because the best words without good conduct are like a flower without fragrance. Wherever the Buddha's ideas have been truly assimilated in the world, there have been ways of progress even in the most difficult of circumstances. Buddha is universal because Buddha teaches to start from within. Buddha's Buddhatva is a sense of ultimate responsibility i.e., whatever is happening around us, in our universe, we relate it to ourselves, we take responsibility for it. If we add our positive effort to what is happening, we will accelerate creation. Today, when the world talks about environmental protection, expresses its concern about climate change, many questions arise. But, if we adopt the message of Buddha, then instead of 'who has to do', the realization 'what is to be done' comes automatically.
Thousands of years ago when Lord Buddha lived, there were no such arrangements as they are today, but still Buddha reached crores of people of the world and got connected with their inner soul. I have experienced this in temples and Buddhist monasteries in different countries. From Kandy to Kyoto, from Hanoi to Hambantota, Lord Buddha is omnipresent through his thoughts, monasteries, relics and culture. It is my good fortune that I have been to Kandy to visit Sri Dalada Maligawa, I have seen his dental remains in Singapore, and I have had the opportunity to visit Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto. Similarly, I have been receiving blessings from the monks of the South East countries. There are different countries, different cultures, but Buddha, who resides in the soul of humanity, is connecting everyone.
India has made this aspect of teaching of Lord Buddha part of its development journey. We have never believed in restricting the knowledge, great messages or the thoughts of great souls. Whatever was ours, we have shared with the entire humanity. That is why human values like non-violence and compassion are still ingrained in the heart of India even today. Therefore, Buddha is still the inspiration of the Constitution of India and Buddha's Dhamma-Chakra on the tricolor of India is giving us momentum. Even today, if someone goes to the Parliament of India, this mantra 'Dharma Chakra Pravartana' (first sermon by Buddha) is clearly visible.
It is generally believed that the influence of Buddhism in India was mainly in the East. But if we look closely at history, we find that as much as Buddha has influenced the East, he has also influenced the West and South. Vadnagar in Gujarat, which is also my birthplace, has been an important place associated with Buddhism in the past. Till now we knew this history only through the quotes of Hiuen Tsang, but now archaeological monasteries and stupas have also been found in excavations in Vadnagar. Gujarat’s past is proof that Buddha was beyond directions and boundaries. Born on the soil of Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi has been the modern torch-bearer of Buddha's messages of truth and non-violence.
Today India is celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of its independence. In this Amrit Mahotsav, we are taking a pledge for our future, for the future of humanity. At the core of these thoughts is the message of Lord Buddha which says-
पमादो मच्चुनो पदं।
अप्पमत्ता न मीयन्ति,
ये पमत्ता यथा मता।
That is, absence of laxity is nectar, and laxity is death. Therefore, India is moving ahead with new energy, taking the whole world along. Lord Buddha had said-
“अप्प दीपो भव”।
That is, be your own light. When a person is self-illuminated, he lightens the world as well. This is the motivation for India to become self-reliant. This is the inspiration that gives us the strength to participate in the progress of every country in the world. Today, India is carrying forward this idea with the mantra of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, and Sabka Prayas'. I have full faith that together we will pave the way for the welfare of humanity by following these teachings of Lord Buddha.
With this wish, many thanks to all of you!
Bhavatu Sab Mangalam!