The Prime Minister of Nepal, Honorable Shri Sher Bahadur Deuba ji,
Respected Shrimati Arzu Deuba ji,
Ministers of the Government of Nepal present in the meeting,
Buddhist monks and Buddhists present in large numbers,
Dignitaries from different countries,
Ladies and gentlemen!
On the auspicious occasion of Buddha Jayanti, best wishes for Buddha Purnima from the holy land of Lumbini to all present here, to all the Nepalese, and to all the devotees of the world.
In the past as well, on the day of Vaishakh Purnima, I have been getting the opportunities to visit the divine places associated with Lord Buddha, for events associated with him. And today, I have had the privilege of visiting Lumbini, the holy birthplace of Lord Buddha, in Nepal, a friend of India. The opportunity that I got to visit the Mayadevi temple a while ago is also unforgettable for me. The place where Lord Buddha himself was born, the energy there, the consciousness there, it is a different feeling. I am also happy to see that the sapling of the Mahabodhi tree that I had presented at this place in 2014 is now developing into a tree.
Whether it is Pashupatinathji, Muktinath ji, Janakpurdham or Lumbini, whenever I come to Nepal, Nepal gratifies me with its spiritual blessings.
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 feeling equally happy.
Nepal means, the country of the world’s highest mountain-Sagarmatha!
Nepal means, the country of many holy pilgrimages, temples and monasteries of the world!
Nepal means the country that preserves the ancient civilizational culture of the world!
When I come to Nepal, I have a different spiritual experience than any other political visit.
India and the people of India have looked at Nepal with this vision and faith for thousands of years. I believe, sometime back when Sher Bahadur Deuba ji and Mrs. Arzoo Deuba ji came to India, and had visited Kashi Vishwanath Dham, Banaras as just described by Deuba ji, it is very natural for him to have a similar feeling for India.
This common heritage, common culture, common faith and common love, this is our greatest asset. And, the richer this asset is, the more effectively together we can bring the message of Lord Buddha to the world and give direction to the world. In the kind of global conditions that are being created today, the ever-strengthening friendship of India and Nepal and our closeness, will serve the benefit of the entire humanity. And in this, the faith of both our countries towards Lord Buddha, the boundless reverence for him, unites us in one thread and makes us a member of a family.
Brothers and Sisters,
The Buddha is an incarnation of the collective sense of humanity. There are Buddha perceptions, and so are Buddha researches. There are Buddha thoughts, and so are buddha samskaras. The Buddha is special because he did not only preach, but he made humanity feel knowledge. He dared to abandon the great glorious kingdom and comforts. Certainly, he was not born as an ordinary child. But he made us realize that sacrifice is more important than attainment. Realization is complete only by renunciation. That is why, he wandered in the forests, he did penance, did research. After that introspection, when he reached the pinnacle of knowledge, he never claimed to do any miracle for the welfare of the people. Rather, Lord Buddha showed us the path which he himself had lived. He had given us the mantra – “Aap Deepo Bhava Bhikkhwe”” Parikshay Bhikshvo, Grahyam Maddachho, Na Tu Gauravat.” That is, be your own lamp. Don’t take my words out of respect for me either. Rather test them and assimilate them.
There is another topic related to Lord Buddha, which I must mention today. Buddha was born as Siddhartha in Lumbini on the day of Vaishakh Purnima. On this day in Bodh Gaya, he attained the realization and became Lord Buddha. And on this day, his mahaparinirvana took place in Kushinagar. On the same date, the same Vaisakha Purnima, these stages of Lord Buddha’s life journey were not merely coincidental. It also has the philosophical message of Buddha hood, in which life, knowledge and nirvana are all together. The three are connected together. This is the perfection of human life, and that is probably why Lord Buddha may have chosen this holy date of the full moon. When we begin to see human life in this fullness, there is no room left for division and discrimination. Then we ourselves begin to live the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which reflects from ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina’ to the Buddha sermon of ‘Bhavtu Sabb Mangalam’. That is why, rising above geographical boundaries, Buddha belongs to everyone, to everyone.
I also have another relationship with Lord Buddha, which is also a wonderful coincidence and which is also very pleasant. The place where I was born, Vadnagar in Gujarat, was a great centre of Buddhist learning centuries ago. Even today, ancient remains are being excavated there, whose conservation work is going on. And we know that there are many such towns in India, many cities, many places, which people proudly know as Kashi of that state. This has been the specialty of India, and therefore you also know my affinity with Sarnath near Kashi. From Sarnath, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar in India to Lumbini in Nepal, these holy places symbolize our shared heritage and shared values. We have to develop this heritage together and enrich it further. Right now the Prime Ministers of both our countries have also laid the foundation stone of India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage here. It will be constructed by the International Buddhist Confederation of India. Prime Minister Deuba ji has an important contribution in realizing this decades old dream of our cooperation. As the chairman of the Lumbini Development Trust, he had decided to give the land to the International Buddhist Confederation. And now full cooperation is being given from his side in completing this project as well. For this we are all deeply grateful to him. I am glad that the Government of Nepal is supporting all efforts for the development of Buddha Circuit and Lumbini, realizing all the possibilities of development. The construction of the Lumbini Museum in Nepal is also an example of joint cooperation between the two countries. And today we also decided to establish Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar chair for Buddhist studies in Lumbini Buddhist University.
Many pilgrimages from India and Nepal have given momentum to the vast tradition of civilization, culture and knowledge over the centuries. Even today, lakhs of devotees from all over the world come to these shrines every year. We have to give more momentum to our efforts in the future. Our governments have also taken decisions like creating integrated check posts in Bhairahawa and Sonauli. Its work has also started. After the completion of these posts, the facility for the movement of people on the border will increase. International tourists coming to India will be able to come to Nepal more easily. Also, this will speed up trade and transportation of essential items. There is such immense potential for India and Nepal to work together between the two countries. The citizens of both countries will benefit from these efforts.
The relationship between India and Nepal is as stable as a mountain, and as old as a mountain. We have to give a new height to our instinctive and natural relationships 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. India’s cooperation and efforts at Lumbini Buddhist University, Kathmandu University and Tribhuvan University are great examples of this. I see many more great possibilities for expanding our mutual cooperation in this area. Together we will realize these possibilities and the dreams of India and Nepal. Our able youth will grow to the pinnacle of success and become messengers of Buddha’s teachings all over the world.
Lord Buddha says: -सुप्पबुद्धं पबुज्झन्ति, सदा गोतम-सावका। येसं दिवा च रत्तो च, भावनाये रतो मनो॥ That is, those who are always engaged in friendship, in goodwill, those followers of Gautama are always awake. That is, they are the real followers of Buddha. Today, we have to work for the whole of humanity. With this spirit, we have to strengthen the spirit of friendship in the world. I am confident that India-Nepal friendship will continue to work together to fulfill this humanitarian resolve.
With this spirit, greetings to all of you once again on the occasion of Vaishakh Purnima.