India lost Buddha to China: Rector

DNA India, Mar 1, 2012

Mumbai, India -- “Indians, over centuries, have lost their Buddhist culture to countries like China,’’ said Charles Willemen, rector, International Buddhist College, Thailand.

Willemen was present at the Somaiya Centre for Buddhist Studies where the Buddhist Studies Series was inaugurated with the release of first volume, Outlining the Way to Reflect - a book by Willemen which explains the basic modules of meditation from the ancient Buddhist culture.

With the series, the institute aims at introducing the young generation to this ancient culture, which originally belonged to India.

Willemen said, “Buddhism originated in India, but the country has lost the culture. China can give back to India a lot of its own culture. There have been several factors from history that have contributed to this decline of Buddhism in India. Many expert minds have given different reasons for this situation. Now, when foreigners are bringing back the same thing, the locals have now started re-recognising it.”

“Outlining the Way to Reflect is a tribute to Kumarajiva, originally an Indian expert in Buddhism who translated many Buddhist texts from Sanskrit to Chinese. It baffles me when Buddhist studies are related to the learning of the Pali language, whereas the religion originated from Sanskrit,” said Willemen.

He continued, “It is important to promote Buddhist culture among students, along with other mainstream subjects.”

The Buddhist Studies Series is an initiative of the KJ Somaiya Centre for Buddhist Studies, which will publish research works on the diverse perspectives from which the Buddhist tradition has been studied. Encompassing all of Buddhist tradition, the series will comprise textual studies and translations, historical, sociological and philosophical investigations, as well as studies relating to Buddhist religious practices and Buddhist expressions in the art and cultures of Asia.

The series will also include such modern, inter-disciplinary dimensions to Buddhism as contemplative studies, social engagement, gender studies and perspectives on ethics and ecology, according to Supriya Rai, of the Buddhist Studies Centre at Somaiya.