Dalai Lama hails secularism practised in India

PTI, January 5, 2013

Patna, India -- Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama Saturday praised secularism practised in India and emphasised that the message of peaceful existence of different religions in the country should be taken all over the world.

"India is a symbol of secularism. It shows how different religions coexist in harmony in the country," the Noble laureate said in his inaugural speech at the International Buddhist Sangh Conference.

The Tibetan monk praised Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar for promoting Buddhism and also for development in the state.

"Bihar is moving ahead under dynamic leadership of Nitish Kumar," he said and thanked him for initiatives for promoting Buddhism.

He referred to establishment of new Nalanda university and converting old jail building into a Buddha Smriti park to drive home his point.

The Dalai Lama stressed on mental peace along with scientific development. He also stressed on converting Buddhist stupas and libraries besides places of religion as a seat of learning.

The Tibetan leader also spoke against change of religion and appealed to people to spread goodness of ones religion to the world.

The three-day Buddhist conference which started on Saturday is being attended by over 200 delegates from 17 countries including the US, UK, France, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Mynamar, Nepal and Bangladesh in addition to India.

Welcoming the delegates, the chief minister said that his government was trying to move ahead in accordance with the teachings of Lord Buddha that power should not come into ones head.

He said besides the Centre, the state government has also decided to excavate sites related to Buddhism which is not known to the world so far.

The Bihar CM said the state government has taken steps for developing Buddhist circuit to attract visitors, including those from around the world.

He said Bihar has derived its name from the Buddhist viharas and the state would work hard to live upto this.

Kumar thanked the Dalai Lama for his love and affection for Bihar and sought his constant guidance for strengthening peace and harmony in the state.

Kumar said Buddhism precepts were still relevant in the contemporary world and stressed on spreading the message of Buddha.

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said Patliputra (ancient name of Patna) was capital of King Ashoka and the city would do everything to maintain its past glory.

The Buddhist meet was hosted by Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee with the assistance of state government's Art and culture department.

Minister for art and culture Sukhda Pandey said that the state government was taking effective steps to preserve and conserve everything related to Buddhism, which has its origin in Bihar.

The meet at the Buddha Smriti park began with utterance of Buddhist hymns and key note addressed by senior monks -- Ven Somdet Prawannarat from Thailand, Khinin Da Thar Sayadaw from Myanmar and Ryojun Sato from Japan.