Lumbini, May 16 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that India and Nepal’s ever-strengthening friendship and their closeness will benefit the entire humanity in the emerging global situation as he likened the ties between the two neighbours as unshakeable like the Himalayas.
Modi, who visited the Himalayan nation at the invitation of his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba on a day-long visit to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima, made the remarks while addressing the International Buddhist Conference here.
“India and Nepal’s ever-strengthening friendship and our closeness will benefit the entire humanity in the kind of global conditions that are emerging,” Modi said in his 20-minute special address.
“This common heritage, this common culture, this common faith and this common love, this is our greatest asset. And, the richer this capital is, the more effectively together we can bring the message of Lord Buddha to the world, give direction to the world,” he said.
“The faith of both our countries towards Lord Buddha, infinite reverence for him, unites us in one thread, makes us members of one family,” he said.
Prime Minister Modi, who attended the 2566th Buddha Jayanti Celebration at International Convention Center and Meditation Hall at Lumbini, was accompanied by his Nepalese counterpart Deuba and his spouse Dr. Arzu Rana Deuba. Several Nepalese ministers were among the other dignitaries present.
Modi said that India and Nepal relations are unshakeable like the Himalayas and added that both the countries will work towards solving global problems with Buddha’s ideologies.
“We have to give a new height to our natural relationship as much as the Himalayas. The relationships that we have lived for thousands of years, from food, music, festivals, and customs to family ties, now also have to be linked to new areas like science, technology, and infrastructure. I am satisfied that India is working shoulder to shoulder with Nepal in this direction,” he said.
“Buddha is the embodiment of the collective understanding of humanity,” Modi told the gathering of some 2,500 people that included monks, Buddhist scholars and international participants in Lumbini.
“Buddha is special because he did not only preach, but he made humanity feel enlightened. He dared to renounce the great opulent state and extreme comforts. Certainly he was not born as an ordinary child. But he made us realise that sacrifice is more important than attainment. Realisation is complete only by renunciation.”
Lumbini, located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, is one of the holiest places of Buddhism, as Lord Buddha was born there.
Modi said the energy of the place where Lord Buddha was born, gives him a different feeling. “I was happy to see that the Mahabodhi sapling I had gifted in 2014 for this place, is now growing into a tree,” he added.
“From Sarnath, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar in India to Lumbini in Nepal, these holy places symbolise our shared heritage and shared values. We have to develop this heritage together,” Modi said.
He said the construction of the Lumbini Museum in Nepal is also an example of joint cooperation between the two countries.
He said it was decided to establish Dr Ambedkar Chair for Buddhist Studies in Lumbini Buddhist University.
Modi said the place where he was born, Vadnagar in Gujarat, was a great center for Buddhist learning centuries ago. “Even today ancient relics are coming out there, and the conservation work for them is going on,” he added.
“In Janakpur, I had said that Our Ram is also incomplete without Nepal. I know that today when a grand temple of Lord Shri Ram is being built in India, the people of Nepal are equally happy,” Modi said.
On his part, Nepalese Prime Minister Deuba described India as a “close neighbour and a trusted friend.”
Deuba said he had a “fruitful discussion” with Prime Minister Modi earlier and he was looking forward for developing Buddha Circuit involving Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar in India.