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Buddha's legacy enduring: Manmohan

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MESSAGE OF PEACE: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the inauguration of the year-long celebrations to commemorate the 2,550th anniversary of the Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
MESSAGE OF PEACE: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the inauguration of the year-long celebrations to commemorate the 2,550th anniversary of the Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Staff Reporter

Launches the year-long commemoration of the 2,550th anniversary of the `Mahaparinirvana' of Buddha

Rs. 10 crore sanctioned by Prime MinisterCelebrations include international meet on BuddhaRestoration of Nalanda monastery to be completed

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday launched the yearlong commemoration of the 2,550th anniversary of the `Mahaparinirvana' of Gautama Buddha at a function at Vigyan Bhawan here.

Dr. Singh hoped the celebration would help spread Lord Buddha's message of universal love and benevolence and enrich the lives of the people. He said the day of enlightenment of Lord Buddha was celebrated as one when humankind found a path to peace. The life, spirituality and teachings of Lord Buddha offered solace to millions of people across the world for centuries. "The intellectual, moral and spiritual legacy of Lord Buddha endures and inspires. It encourages us to follow the path of righteousness, benevolence and humanism."

In today's world, however, the path to salvation need not be necessarily found through renunciation, he said. "It can also be found in action, provided the actions are guided by the best interests of all. Doing good in what we do, our daily work, is also a path to seek salvation."

India needs a firm societal commitment to the service of the poorest of the poor and to rid the nation of poverty, ignorance and disease. And to this end, "we have to make the Government more transparent and humane, more caring and honest. Our commitment to building a more inclusive society must harmonise with Lord Buddha's message of a just society."

On Lord Buddha's concept of `nirvana,' which did not mean the extinction of life but the end of the state of suffering and annihilation of false desires, Dr. Singh said in modern life the message could be used to conquer the urge to fulfil ever-growing materialistic desires for that could considerably reduce the vulgarity and violence seen in society.

United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi said: "Since antiquity, this land has given birth to many religious leaders and Lord Buddha has acquired a unique place in that order through renunciation."

Recalling how Jawaharlal Nehru was deeply influenced by Lord Buddha, she said his voice "whispers in our ears and beckons us not to run away from trouble but to counter it steadfastly. As we seek harmony and opportunity for all, we can do no better but to heed to the words of Lord Buddha and his words of universal benevolence and love for all."

In these times, when the footprints of humankind on the planet were increasingly becoming destructive, the intrinsic strength of Lord Buddha's teaching, which had endured all these years, would continue to guide people of this land, Ms. Gandhi added.

People's celebration

Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni said that to make the yearlong celebrations, which would be attended by people from all over the world, grand and successful, the Prime Minister had sanctioned Rs. 10 crore. "We want to make it a peoples' celebration and want to take Lord Buddha's message of peace across the country."

As part of the celebrations, an international conference on Lord Buddha would be organised in November, restoration of the Nalanda monastery would be completed and a "walk with the Buddha'' publicity campaign would be launched.

The programme, which was addressed by Jangtse Choeje Rizong Rinpoche, had Grammy nominee Lama Toshi leading the traditional chanting at the start of the celebration.


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