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International Theravada Buddhist universities conference to be held in Myanmar

Xinhua, Feb 23, 2009

YANGON, Myanmar -- An International Theravada Buddhist universities conference will be held at the Sitagu International Buddhists Academy in Sagaing, northwestern division of Myanmar, executive secretary of the Association of Theravada Buddhist Universities (ATBU) Vulnerable Dr. Khammai Dhammasami told the press Monday.

At the second biennial conference, which will last from March 5to 8, about 70 papers relating to engaged Buddhism, religious teachings in Theravada Buddhist countries, monasticism in Theravada countries, and Pali literature since the 19th century will be presented mainly in English and Pali languages for discussion.

According to the executive secretary, 290 representatives from 30 universities and colleges from 11 countries including observers from seven other countries as well as 300 domestic monks and nuns are expected to attend the session.

These countries include Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Uganda, Jamaica, Nepal and host Myanmar.

The conference is aimed at building a network of Theravada Buddhists and intellectuals from across the world to enable cooperation in religious teachings and education and disseminate Buddhist laws to the world, he said.

The first conference of its kind was also held in Myanmar's Bagan Popa resort, in which representatives of Theravada Buddhist universities and colleges from 13 countries attended, followed by the establishment of ATBU.

The forthcoming international Theravada Buddhist universities conference came more than four years after the World Buddhist Summit, sponsored by Myanmar for the first time, took place at the Maha Pasana Cave in Yangon in December 2004 to promote and propagate Buddhism.

Buddhism stands one of the four main historical religions of the world with over 360 million followers. Myanmar is a country with a majority of its population (about 80 percent) believing in Buddhism. It is estimated that there are over 420,000 monks and over 60,000 nuns within nine sects in Myanmar which have been unified at different levels under the leadership of the government's religious committee.

For nearly 1,000 years, the country has kept Theravada Buddhismpure and intact. Buddhist scripture learning centers and other monastic education schools were set up here long ago.

There are five Theravada Buddhist universities and institutes in Myanmar -- four in Yangon, one in Mandalay and one in Sagaing.


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