Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said Buddhism’s message of peace is the answer to the “growing arc of violence” as he voiced concern over the challenge to world peace from mindsets rooted in hate and violence. “Lord Buddha’s message is as relevant in the 21st century as it was two and a half millennia ago,” Modi said at the International Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo where he was speaking as the chief guest.
Modi said the ideologies of hate and their proponents in the region are closed to notion of dialogue and hence only open to causing death and destruction. “The menace of terrorism in our region is a concrete manifestation of this destructive emotion,” he said, apparently referring to Pakistan, which is accused of aiding and training terrorists who carry out attacks inside India.
“The biggest challenge to sustainable world peace today is not necessarily from conflict between the nation states,” he said, adding that it was from the mindsets, thought streams, entities and instruments rooted in hate and violence.
Modi said he believes that “Buddhism’s message of peace is the answer to growing arc of violence all over the world.” The themes of social justice and sustainable world peace, chosen for the Vesak day, resonate deeply with Buddha’s teachings. The themes may appear independent. But, they are both deeply interdependent and interconnected, Modi said.
Lankan President Maithripala Srisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, diplomats, politicians and several Buddhist leaders from across the world were in audience. ‘Vesak Day’ is a day celebrated by Buddhists around the world to commemorate the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha.
“Our region is blessed to have given to the world the invaluable gift of Buddha and his teachings,” he said, adding that Buddhism and its various strands are deep seated in “our governance, culture and philosophy.”
He said the countries of south, central, south east and east Asia are proud of their Buddhist links traced to the land of Buddha.
Prime Minister Modi assured India’s support to Sri Lanka for the island’s nation-building endeavours. Modi said that he believes that both India and Sri Lanka are at a moment of great opportunity in its relationship. “You will find in India a friend and partner that will support your nation-building endeavours,” he said. “My conversations with President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have only reinforced our will to join hands in achieving our common goals,” he added.
On Vesak, my hope is that India and Sri Lanka will work together to uphold the ideals of Lord Buddha and promote values of peace, accommodation, inclusiveness, and compassion, Modi said, adding that let us dedicate our efforts to follow the path of Buddha whose light shines all over the world.
Modi, on his second visit to Sri Lanka in two years, was earlier received by his Sri Lankan counterpart Wickremesinghe at the venue amid traditional fanfare. The prime minister lit a lamp – a traditional practice -initiating the UN ‘Vesak Day’ celebrations.
Several Buddhist monks chanted prayers during which Modi closed his eyes and kept his hands folded.
Speaking at the event, Wickremesinghe thanked Modi for being the chief guest at the event. “Proud to host Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo. I want to thank Prime Minister Modi for being the chief guest during the celebrations,” Wickremesinghe said.
“Teachings of Buddhism are relevant in today’s world. Buddhism shows a moderate path and need to consolidate social justice,” he said.
Modi arrived here yesterday on a two-day visit which is mainly aimed at reinforcing the traditional connect between India and Sri Lanka at a time when China is seeking to make inroads in the island nation.