Wed, 07 Jun 2023

New Delhi [India], March 14 (ANI): India is not only the centre of Buddhist philosophy but also of art and culture, so it becomes India's responsibility to bring forward the values of Buddhism," said Minister of State (MoS) External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi on Tuesday.

MoS Lekhi made the above remarks after the conclusion of first day of the two-day international conference on "Shared Buddhist Heritage" that began in New Delhi with a focus on India's civilisational connection with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) nations 2023.

Union Minister of Culture, G Kishan Reddy, inaugurated the event in the presence of Meenakashi Lekhi and Arjun Ram Meghwal, the Ministers of State for Culture.

Meenakashi Lekhi said that SOC is an international body comprising 8 countries including China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

She said, "When you head towards North, you find several monasteries, temples, Stupas and other heritage sites related to Buddhism. The traders of Eurasian Trade Route used to give funds to Takshashila university of India. Even Samrat Ashoka spread Buddhism in this area and in Iran.""Buddhism is one common heritage between many countries and India. This is the purity of Indian ideology, materialism along with value system is relevant and is India's gift to the world. We all are a part of only one civilisation so as Buddhism and teachings of Lord Buddha," Lekhi said.

Union Minister of Culture, G Kishan Reddy, honoured the participating delegates from SCO member countries.

Reddy said that today, India on one hand is leading Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries and the G20 countries on the other. "It is my strong belief that in the coming days, India will positively disseminate Lord Buddha's message not only in Buddhist countries but also the world," he added.

"In a first, the delegates of SCO countries are meeting in Delhi. This is just a start. In the coming days, the SCO countries' meeting will be held in different nations, officials will put forward the same request before the Government of India," G Kishan Reddy said.

"The message of Lord Buddha, given to the whole world was relevant yesterday, today and will stay the same tomorrow. The message from the land of India is being followed by crores across the world," Reddy said.

Notably, the event, a first of its kind, under India's leadership of SCO (for a period of one year, from 17 September, 2022 until September 2023) brings together Central Asian, East Asian, South Asian and Arab countries on a common platform to discuss "Shared Buddhist Heritage".

The SCO countries comprise Member States, Observer States and Dialogue Partners, including China, Russia and Mongolia. More than 15 scholars and delegates from China's Dunhuang Research Academy, Kyrgyzstan's Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnology, Russia's State Museum of the History of Religion, Tajikistan's National Museum of Antiquities, Belarusian State University and Myanmar's International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University, etc will be presenting research papers on the topic during the 2-day event.

The Ministry of Culture is organising the programme, and the Ministry of External Affairs and the International Buddhist Confederation, as grantee bodies of the Ministry of Culture. A number of Indian scholars of Buddhism are also participating in the event.

The aim of the Conference is to re-establish trans-cultural links and seek out commonalities, between Buddhist art of Central Asia, art styles, archaeological sites and antiquity in various museums' collections of the SCO countries.

One of the natural marvels in this world is the evolution and spread of ideas since time immemorial. Crossing effortlessly, formidable mountains, vast oceans and national boundaries; ideas that find a home in distant lands; getting enriched with the existing cultures. So is the uniqueness of Buddha's appeal.

Its universality crossed both time and space. Its humanistic approach permeated art, architecture, sculpture and subtle attributes of human personality; finding expression in compassion, co-existence, sustainable living and personal growth.

The Conference is a unique meeting of the minds, where countries from different geographical regions but with a common thread connecting them based on a shared civilization legacy, strengthened by Buddhist missionaries who played a significant role in integrating various cultures, communities and regions in the entire Indian subcontinent and Asia will discuss for two days' different themes, chalking out ways to continue the age-old bonds into the future. (ANI)

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