Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe visited Varanasi on December 12, 2015. Both the leaders offered prayers, performed and witnessed the Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat.
Sharing his thoughts at a symposium, the Japanese Prime Minister quoted that the Ganga Aarti ceremony was “gorgeously showy within a solemn atmosphere.” PM Abe further added, “On the bank of the Mother River, as I allowed myself to become lost in the music and the rhythmic movement of the flames, I was dazzled at the bottomless depths of history connecting both ends of Asia.
PM Abe avowed that Varanasi reminded him of ‘samasara’, a teaching the Japanese have also valued since ancient times. He also mentioned about how teachings of Gautama Buddha had spread from India to Japan and exists between both countries as a ‘sutra’.
The Japanese PM expressed his part of content on the flourishing trade and investment with India. He appreciated India’s efforts in maintaining peace and prosperity in Asia.
Below is the excerpt of Japanese PM's speech at the“Shared Values and Democracy in Asia” Symposium:
On the bank of the “Mother Ganges” River
It was a little more than a month ago while I was visiting India that Prime Minister Modi kindly took me to Varanasi. There I experienced with him a Ganga Aarti ceremony, which began just as dusk fell and was gorgeously showy within a solemn atmosphere.
I knew that Varanasi was among the most sacred places, and while observing the ceremony, one thought after another struck me.
A feeling of respect for the flow of water... that is something we Japanese need no explanation to grasp. I might also add that this is why the Government of Japan has for a long time lent a helping hand in the remediation of the River Ganges.
Varanasi also reminded me of samsara, a teaching the Japanese have also valued since ancient times. People are born and ultimately die and transform into something else, and that is precisely why we must live treasuring the present. Somehow, we have been thinking that way.
Though I could not make it during my last trip, I knew that nearby was the place where the Buddha bestowed his very first teachings to his followers.
He told them to venture forth for the gain of many. This teaching spread to far-off Japan and lives on today as a sutra.
On the bank of the Mother River, as I allowed myself to become lost in the music and the rhythmic movement of the flames, I was dazzled at the bottomless depths of history connecting both ends of Asia.
Be it loving kindness, benevolence, fraternity, or harmony, I believe that in Asia, there extends an underground rootstock of thinking that supports democracy and values freedom and human rights.
From there, a beautiful and large-blossomed lotus flower is now coming into bloom. Coupled with increasingly flourishing trade and investment, it is bringing peace and prosperity to Asia. If this is not something for us to rejoice about, then I must ask, what on earth is?
At the beginning of a new year, as we unmistakably feel the curtain lifting on a new era for Asia, an era in which we make freedom, human rights, and democracy our own and respect the rule of law, Japan reaffirms its determination to continue to be a member of Asia that you can count on. With that resolve, I conclude my remarks.
Read full speech - https://japan.kantei.go.jp/97_abe/statement/201601/1215564_10999.html