Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi visited Bodhgaya to participate in the ‘Global Hindu-Buddhism Initiative’ on 5th September, 2015. The event was organized by International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), International Vivekananda Foundation and The Tokyo Foundation. The Prime Minister also inaugurated an Exhibition ‘Cetiya Carika- The Dhamma Pilgrimage’ prepared by Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (Deemed University). The focus of the exhibition was the pilgrimage legacy of 7th CE Chinese monk-scholar, Xuanzang.
|Hon'ble PM and Dr. R Panth, Director, Nava Nalanda Mahavihara untieing the Knot and inaugurating the Exhibition.|
It was an opportunity to share with Hon’ble Prime Minister the contributions of Xuanzang and how to take forward this legacy in integrating the Buddhist circuit in India.
|Explaining the Map depicting the entire pilgrimage of Xuanzang|
Buddhism was lost in the land of its origin Bihar in 13th century. The entire tangible and intangible Buddhist links in India were lost. Orientalists until publication of travelogues of 7th CE Chinese monk-scholar Xuanzang believed the images of the ‘Buddha’ with large earlobes and lips and twisted curly hairs to be of African origin. It was only in mid 19th CE when travelogues of 5th CE Chinese monk-scholar Faxian and Xuanzang (7th CE) were translated from Chinese into European languages that revealed Buddhist origin of India and existence of an elaborate Buddhist pilgrimage ‘in the Footsteps of the Buddha’. Many British explorers including Cunningham worked very hard in deciphering Xuanzang’s work. All the prominent Buddhist pilgrimage sites including Nalanda, Sarnatha, Vaishali etc now popular were identified on the basis of Xuanzang’s accounts.
But we have been able to tap only a fraction of what Xuanzang has mentioned. Pilgrimage in Bihar is currently limited to Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda and Vaishali. Many more important sites are still not on the pilgrimage map. Revitalization of Xuanzang legacy will facilitate expansion of the Buddhist pilgrimage. Also, Xuanzang is an icon and is worshiped by the Buddhists in China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Promoting the legacy of Xuanzang will attract pilgrims from China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
|With Dr R Panth and Dr Arun Kr Yadav, explaining the integration of Buddhist Circuit in India|
Hon’ble Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Shri. Kiren Rijiju was also present on the occasion. Shri Rijiju had arrived one hour before the arrival of the Prime Minister. This gave us an opportunity to discuss the exhibition with him in detail. We shared with him how in ‘The footsteps of the Buddha pilgrimage’ is currently limited to Eight Great Places (Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnatha, Kushinagara, Rajgir, Vaishali, Sravasti and Sankissa) whereas Xuanzang in his accounts has mentioned about existence of an elaborate pilgrimage connecting many sacred spots associated with the Buddha and his prominent disciples.
|With Hon'ble Minister Shri Rijiju and Dr R Panth|
A poster ‘The Sublime Wandering of the Buddha in Magadha’ was developed by us for this occasion. The poster depicts the places (in Magadha) associated with the Buddha and his prominent disciples as mentioned by Xuanzang. The focus is to highlight lesser known sacred Buddhist places. The poster was circulated among the participants of the event. The poster shall be circulated to hoteliers, tour operators, monasteries etc in Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda and Patna.
|Poster highlighting Buddhist circuit in Magadha|
|With Hon'ble PM, explaining the Magadha poster|
The idea is to put the Magadha poster in offices of tour operators, in the Buddhist monasteries, Hotels in Bodgaya, Nalanda , Rajgriha and other Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
|Magadha poster at a office in Bodhgaya|