The two-day international conference of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on “Shared Buddhist Heritage” was inaugurated at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi yesterday, with focus on India’s civilizational connect with the SCO nations.
The session was graced by Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and DoNER G.K Reddy; Minister of State for Culture and External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi; Minister of State for Culture and Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal; DG, International Buddhist Confederation, Abhijit Halder and delegates from China, Pakistan, Russia, Bahrain, Myanmar, UAE.
Reddy said that the conference will not only celebrate Buddhist common heritage but will also build stronger and deeper bonds amongst our countries. He also said that Buddhism with its profound vision of eternal harmony in the world has spread far and wide and it touched the lives of inhabitants in all the SCO countries centuries ago. Today, we have all gathered here, at a first of its kind conference, because of this underlying link that binds us. The purpose of this Conference is to renew trans cultural links and shared histories between the nations gathered here, the Minister explained.
Addressing the participants, Meghwal said that teachings of Buddha about self-realization and self-examination are very relevant for 21st century also. The Minister suggested that the SCO countries should take up programmes and projects on our shared Buddhist heritage which binds us together. He also suggested to make Buddhist manuscripts in Pali to be translated into a common language for SCO countries and will make them accessible to all the countries.
In her address, Lekhi said that heritage and history connects all the SCO countries. She also said that Lord Buddha talked about value-based living which is essential for our co-existence. SCO members are connected by Buddhist philosophy which can make SCO a formidable force in terms of ethics and value system, the Minister added.
The event, a first of its kind, under India’s leadership of SCO (for a period of one-year, from 17 September 2022 until September 2023) brings together Central Asian, East Asian, South Asian and Arab countries on a common platform to discuss “Shared Buddhist Heritage”.
The two-day programme is being organized by the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of External Affairs, and the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC-as a grantee body of the Ministry of Culture). A number of Indian scholars of Buddhism are also participating in the event.
The aim of the Conference is to re-establish trans-cultural links, seek out commonalities, between Buddhist art of Central Asia, art styles, archaeological sites and antiquity in various museums’ collections of the SCO countries.