Two-day International Dharma-Dhamma Conference in Bhopal
“THERE is violence all around and the cultural diversities are being interpreted as cultural fault lines. Every nation rich or poor now-a-days has a troubled soul. Human society is engulfed by a multi-dimensional crisis which has encompassed all aspects of our life including moral, ethical and spiritual. The world is in urgent need of restoring the balance and harmonising the fault lines created by vested interests. I am confident that this dialogue would send a message, bold and loud to the followers of the Vedic Dharma and the Dhamma as propounded by Lord Buddha, for recognising the need to create a world view which will guide the destiny of humankind,” said former Union HRD Minister and senior BJP leader Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, while speaking at the concluding ceremony of the Two-day International Dharma-Dhamma Conference in Bhopal on September 23.
About 235 representatives from 19 countries participated in the convention, which was jointly organised by Madhya Pradesh Culture Department, Centre for Study of Religion and Society, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Mahabodhi Society and India Foundation, New Delhi.
Central Tibetan University vice-chancellor Shri Geshe Sampatan presided over the inaugural session. Higher Education Minister of Madhya Pradesh Lakshmikant Sharma, Baba Saheb’s grandson Dr Prakash Ambedkar, Prof Anand Gurge and Mahabodhi Society Sri Lanka chairman Shri Bangala Upastissa Nayak Thero also shared the dais. Scholars from various countries of the world presented their researches, philosophies and views at the convention. At the inaugural function, representatives from various countries lavished praises on Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan for establishing Sanchi Buddhist and Indic Studies University.
The central theme of the Conference was Dharma-Dhamma which has been a pivotal and pervasive concept and overriding principle in Indian culture commonly shared by all religious traditions of India. It has played a dominant and cardinal role in shaping Indian views and way of life. It has covered every facet of human existence and cosmic life in so far as it has been the sustaining (dharaka), regulating (niyamaka) and life-enhancing (sadhaka) force in Indian cultural ethos. It has been the foundational tenet in Hinduism and Buddhism.
Dr Joshi said Vedic seers and the Lord Buddha were some of the most revolutionary thinkers and holiest persons ever lived on the earth. They were beacon lights not only for Indian continent but for the entire world. Their advocacy of prajna and practice of karuna, their vision of self-sameness with every one, their zealous longing for eradication of suffering of all living beings, cross all barriers of race, creed, country and even humanity. Their benevolent teachings of universal compassion and cosmic well being, their emphasis on noble virtues of maitri, karuna, mudita, and upeksa, which mean living and working for the totality of all existences, all these have significant message for the present day distracted humanity suffering from exhaustion of spirit and languishing in the narrow and rigid confinements of ego-centricism., parochialism, and disastrous material consumerism.
“Today our traditional cultures are facing the terrible danger of extinction under the perverting impact of so-called modernisation which is divisive, depriving and destructive. Unfortunately, we have not strived our best. We have to share a common platform to meet the challenge in a decisive, conclusive way at the global level,” he said.
Dr Joshi said a renewal of intra-cultural and thereafter cross-cultural exchange under this banner would not only help and contribute for the beginning of a cultural renaissance but it would also bring in mutual understanding, mutual empathy, and mutual enrichment. It would also consolidate our common spiritual roots and resources. It would enable us to appreciate the spiritual, holistic and integral perspective as against the divisive and dichotomous world view. The present Conference maybe a modest beginning in that direction,” he said.
“We stand today at the crossroads of destiny. The old traditions are being challenged and the new is visible nowhere. It is our responsibility to resolve this conflict and through the harmonisation of the two great Indian traditions show the path for the synthesis and lead the humanity towards peace, progress and emancipation,” he added.
He hoped the Sanchi Buddhist University being established in Bhopal would undertake serious study of Pali Tipitika by a team of scholars to identify the meeting points between Vedic thought and the thoughts of Lord Buddha. Such project is the need of the present times both for theoretical understanding and also for bringing about a congenial socio-political atmosphere in the country. It would be worthwhile to study references of Indian and Western Buddhist scholars who have categorically and explicitly pointed out and argued for the basic affinity between Vedic and Buddhist traditions. Their views are certainly instructive and enlightening and they maybe substantiated by findings in the research project on the Tipitikas which contain the Buddhavacanas. In my opinion the Conference should result in a concrete plan of action of which this research project can be a part. It is also proposed that as a precursor to this research project, a workshop of about 15 scholars may be convened so that intensive re-visiting of Pali Tipitikas is undertaken with the above stated objective, he said praising Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for establishing the Sanchi Buddhist University.
Vedacharya Dr David Frawley who is popularly known as Vamdev Shastri said ancient knowledge would be taught in modern context at Sanchi Buddhist University. He said Dharma and Dhamma teach to increase humanitarian relations. “Dharma and Dhamma mean that all the hearts should light up with spiritual light,” he said.
Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan said religion is a stream which ensures welfare of all. Both Dharma and Dhamma contain this concept. Shri Chouhan said that he wishes to ensure good governance in the State as per ideals of Dharma and Dhamma. He said religion is in the roots, soil, nature and manners of India. Putting religious scriptures into practice is religion. Welfare of others is religion and give pain to others anti-religion. Welfare of world is fundamental principle of every religion. Dharma tells us about duties of a person towards other fellow beings. Like body, mind and soul also follow a religion. Conscience motivates one to think good and work towards human welfare. Lord Buddha had said that if sorrows exist, there are also their remedies. Path of religion is a holy path which incorporates non-violence, observance to truth, keeping away from misconduct and addiction. There are four pillars of Indian culture including religion, economics, desire and salvation. After fulfillment of one’s bare necessities, a person should concentrate on spiritual fulfillment. Nature should also be considered besides individuals and society. Religion teaches to be merciful and friendly towards living beings. This is the reason that animals, birds, flora & fauna, rivers and hills are also worshipped in our country. Environment will have to be improved for the sake of religion of nature. Broad definition of religion calls for welfare of all. We should also think about inner happiness and not only about gross domestic production.
At the outset, Dr Siddheshwar Bhatt threw light on the convention’s objectives. He said that society always needs religion. Dr Rammohan informed about Sanchi Declaration and research papers presented during the plenary session. Dr Prakash Ambedkar said the values of social religion should be considered in present times. Dr. Kapil Kapoor stressed need for discussions on Dharma and Dhamma. In the keynote address, Dr Anand Gurge said that India boasts of great traditions of Sanatan Dharma, Buddhism and Jainsim.
Prof. Geshe Navang Sampatan said that Lord Buddha had said that hate cannot be done away with hate, but through love. He hoped that Sanchi Buddhist University will carry forward tradition of ancient Nalanda University. Shri Vaidyanath Labh proposed a vote of thanks. (FOC)