Around 600 delegates from across India met in Zimithang Valley, Tawang District, in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh on 16–17 April to discuss Nalanda Buddhism, the tradition that arose from the great Nalanda monastic university of India and spread across modern-day northern India, Bhutan, and Tibetan cultural areas beyond. The conference is aimed at celebrating the historical connections of the people and religions of the region.
Arunachal Pradesh’s chief minister, Pema Khandu, was among the attendees at the event, titled “Nalanda Buddhism – Retracing the Source in Footsteps of Acharyas: From Nalanda to the Himalayas and Beyond.”
According to Khandu: “Arunachal Pradesh is not home only to Buddhism but to several religions, including those who follow their own indigenous faith. I believe that every religion and faith should flourish and exist peacefully. I am proud that we Arunachalis are doing just that.” (The Meghalayan)
The organizer of the event was the Indian Himalayan Council of Nalanda Buddhist Tradition (IHCNBT), an Indian trans-Himalayan Sangha Council body headquartered in New Delhi. The first day of the conference featured prayers led by His Eminence Lochen Tulku Rinpoche. The second day featured speeches from political as well as religious leaders.
After the traditional lighting of butter lamps, keynote addresses were given by Lochen Tulku Rinpoche and His Eminence Thegtse Rinpoche. The afternoon consisted of teachings about the journeys and ideas of the great Nalanda masters and Guru Padmasambhava. In the evening, delegates discussed modern-day challenges to Nalanda Buddhism, before concluding with performances from a Himachali dance group and a singer from Ladakh.
The conference delegates included Buddhist teachers and scholars from Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, North Bengal, Densa South India Monasteries, and 35 delegates from various parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
In his talk, Khandu noted the significance of the location of the conference, saying: “Zemithang, as you might all know, is the last Indian border through which His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama entered India in 1959. Therefore, holding this conference here is significant.” (The Hindu)
“The main pillar on which Nalanda Buddhism stands is the principle of reasoning and analysis. This means we can even bring the teachings of Lord Buddha under the ambit of reasoning and analysis. This logic is based on science and perhaps Buddhism is the only religion that gives its followers this liberty,” Khandu said. He praised the people of Arunachel Pradesh, home to approximately 162,000 Buddhists, according to a 2011 census, saying, “Fortunately, they have kept their culture and traditions safe with religious fervor.” (The Hindu)
In his remarks, Khandu also exhorted those at the conference, in particular young people, to pay attention to the challenges Buddhism is expected to face in the 21st century.
Buddhist culture not only to be preserved but also propagated: Khandu (The Meghalayan)
Arunachal Pradesh hosts Buddhist meeting at Dalai Lama’s first halt during his flight from Tibet in 1959 (The Hindu)
Nalanda Buddhism Conference At Zimithang Just Concluded (NE India Broadcast)
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