Hailing India as the ideal of religious harmony, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said here on Saturday that it was advisable for people to stay within their traditional religious folds and not opt for conversions.

He was addressing the inaugural function of the three-day International Buddhist Sangha Conference.

Driving home the importance of expanding the scope of “mutts, mandirs and viharas” beyond the purpose of worship to serve as learning centres for believers as well as interested non-believers, the Dalai Lama said: “This should not be done with the intention of preaching. All, even those who do not believe in the faith should be able to partake of the knowledge. We have to remain within our traditional religious beliefs. We should not convert.”

A perfect example of peace and harmony, given the co-existence of several religions, he called India, “Arya bhumi Bharat.” The Tibetan leader praised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s efforts for preserving ancient Buddhist relics and also creating facilities for meditation.

Mr. Nitish Kumar extolled Buddhist teachings that advocated “a middle path” and discouraged “extremes” for fostering peace.

In the context of the outrage against sexual violence against women in the country, he advocated training of women in martial arts, developed by ancient Buddhist monks.