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Religious conversions are not advisable, says Dalai Lama

Rahi Gaikwad
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“Global economic crisis a result of increasing greed among people”

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar releasing a book on the opening day of a three-day International Buddhist Sangha Conference 2013 in Patna on Saturday.- Photo: Ranjeet Kumar
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar releasing a book on the opening day of a three-day International Buddhist Sangha Conference 2013 in Patna on Saturday.- Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

Hailing India as the ideal of religious harmony, Tibetan spiritual leader 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 towards preserving ancient Buddhist relics and also creating facilities for meditation.

He underscored the need for mental development and peace alongside the ongoing technological and scientific advances. The reason for the economic crisis affecting the world was increasing greed among people and the lack of compassion and friendship.

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 the training of women in martial arts, developed by ancient Buddhist monks.

“Training in martial arts is the need of the hour. We will impart this training in schools for girls. Over one lakh girls have already been trained. Women should get their rights. Their safety and respect go hand in hand. The martial arts were developed by Buddhist monks for self-defence rather than for violence. While travelling to preach, they encountered many dangers on their way,” Mr. Kumar said.

His government would focus on developing the ‘Buddhist Circuit,’ comprising several places of Buddhist interest, and improving infrastructure facilities to attract more visitors. The idea was to make Bihar “gain its past glory so that it becomes a Vihar [Buddhist monastery].”

Other speakers, chiefly religious leaders from Japan and Sri Lanka highlighted the role of the Buddhist Sangha in modern society.

Rev. Ryojun Sato of Japan, who delivered the keynote address called upon Southeast Asian nations and the West to work together to promote peace.

The conference was attended by participants from Nepal, France, Taiwan, Germany, South Korea, Denmark, Myanmar, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, among other nations. Seventeen States were represented in the Indian contingent.


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