IBC Hosts Three-day Seminar on Buddhist Heritage in Northeast India
A three-day conference on the theme of India’s Buddhist heritage, the “International Seminar on India’s North Eastern Region and Buddhist Heritage - Bridge between SAARC and ASEAN,” kicked off today in the city of Agartala, capital of the northeastern state of Tripura. Organized by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) in collaboration with the Asian Confluence and the Dhamma Dipa Foundation, the seminar is aimed at discussing, debating, and reviving the roles that heritage and cultural ties could play in encouraging economic growth and development in the region.
SAARC, or the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, is an economic and geopolitical organization comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
IBC secretary general and chairman of the seminar organizing committee Venerable Lama Lobzang said the seminar would highlight development opportunities for northeastern India and geographical neighbors Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal.
In a statement on the seminar, the organizers said: “India’s northeastern region, along with her immediate eastern neighbors, namely Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, collectively form one of the most intricately woven regions at the levels of religion, art forms, languages, social customs, and biodiversity. . . . In all, therefore, it is a comprehensive geographic unit holding immense potential for secure economic growth and social prosperity. . . . Buddhism is one of the common threads that bind the whole region, and indeed is also its anchor-sheet.”
Seminar participants include spiritual leaders, scholars, authors, and policymakers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the UK, and Vietnam, among them the Indian minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj, Nepalese minister for culture, tourism, and civil aviation Ananda Prasad Pokharel, Thai minister for culture Vira Rojpojchanarat, and former prime minister of Malaysia Ahmed Abdullah Badawi.
Fulbright scholar Naresh Man Bajracharya, first professor of Buddhist Studies at Tribhuvan University in Nepal, is one of the key speakers, along with Buddhistdoor Global senior correspondent and editorial writer Raymond Lam.
Planned topics for discussion are “Buddhist Heritage and Traditions: a Shared History,” “Growth and Sustainable Development: the Relevance of Buddha’s Teachings and Philosophy,” “Cultural Tourism and Pilgrimage: Scope and Challenges,” and “Forging a Sub-regional Space for Prosperity: Highlighting Geographical Contiguity.”
Raymond Lam’s address, entitled “The Nostalgia of 2,500 Years: Celebrating South Asia’s Buddhist Heritage,”* considers the relevance and implications of Buddhist history and heritage.
“I think we must combine modern technology and education that provides us physical comfort,” said Ven. Lobzang. “The ancient Indian knowledge about emotions, about mind, and the knowledge of how to tackle these emotions, provide inner peace and inner strength.” (Web India)
He noted that the level and quality of bilateral and sub-regional cooperation between India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal were key factors for the success of critical sectors such as natural resource management, disaster management, and poverty alleviation, and observed that the lack of definitive action on these fronts in the region so far needed to be addressed for these goals to be realized.
*The Nostalgia of 2,500 Years: Celebrating South Asia’s Buddhist Heritage (Buddhistdoor Global)
Agartala to host Buddhism seminar (The Times of India)
IBC to discuss South Asia, South East Asian integrity in Tripura (Web India)
International Buddhist Confederation