Buddhist leaders from around the world were invited by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) on Sunday to mark Abhidhamma Day, a holiday in the Theravada Buddhist tradition celebrating the Buddha’s descent from heaven after teaching his mother the Abhidhamma.
Delegates and prominent monks from Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere assembled in Noida, a planned city just east of New Delhi in Uttar Pradesh.
Ahead of the event, Buddhist monk Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Mahanayake Thero of Sri Lanka, who was also an attendee, said: “Today, on the eve of the full moon, we, the international Buddhist community, have gathered in India to celebrate this important festival tomorrow. Especially under the Modi government, we see a great revival of Buddhism in India. Buddhism is about compassion and happiness.” (The Print)
The Sri Lankan monk referenced Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s message at the United Nations last year and restated India’s mission “to save the planet from conflict and violence” through the principles of Buddhism: “We saw PM Modi recently mentioning at the UN that India has given Buddhism to the world to save the planet from conflict and violence. We all appreciate this global mission. We thank the IBC and the government of India for inviting us here in UP to participate in this much important event.” (The Print)
Dr. Dhammapiya, the secretary general of the IBC, also praised Modi: “Our prime minister of India Narendra Modi used to emphasize on various occasions the teaching of the Buddha and the message of peace and harmony. He used to say that India has given the world a message of peace, the Buddha, the symbol of global peace, and the teachings of the Buddha is a message for unity and harmony.” (ANI)
In May, Modi, together with Nepal’s prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, participated in the Shilanyas ceremony for the construction of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage at a site in Lumbini belonging to the IBC. They also discussed efforts to promote a Buddhist tourism circuit by train covering cities in India and Nepal.
Abhidhamma Day is celebrated by Theravada Buddhists on the full moon of the seventh month of the lunar year that begins in April. The day also marks the end of the annual rains retreat (vassa), when many monastics cease traveling. The occasion is marked by the Pavarana festival.
To mark the day, the IBC and Gautam Buddha University, based in Greater Noida, organized the International Abhidhamma Divas. The event began with a lighting of a lamp and offering of flowers to a Buddha statue. The chief guest at the event was Dr. Ashin Nanissara (Sitagu Sayadaw), chancellor of Sitagu International Buddhist Academies, Myanmar.
At the event, Nanissara said, “I am very glad, very happy to share my knowledge this morning on how to study the Abhidamma. The Abbhidhamma is the most important of any doctrine, most important of any religion. Because when someone studies the Abhidhamma, he or she will understand ‘what I am, where I am, what I have to do.’ . . . Abhiddhamma study means self-study of what I am.” (YouTube)
Key events of the day included a panel discussion on the “Significance of Abhidhamma,” a book launch titled “Recent Development in the Studies of Abhidhamma in India,” and a screening of the film on IBC’s project in Lumbini.
The Abhidhamma Day celebration last year was held in Kushinagar at Mahaparinirvana Temple, the site marking the death or mahaparinibbana of the Buddha. Modi was the chief guest at the conference.
The IBC is a Buddhist umbrella body that serves as a common platform for Buddhists worldwide. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It was established under the patronage of the supreme Buddhist religious hierarchy and has members from 320 monastic and lay organizations, including world bodies, national and regional federations, monasteries, international organizations, and institutions.
Scholars praise India for preserving Buddhist culture and holy places (India Narrative)
We see great revival of Buddhism in India under Modi govt: International Buddhist Confederation (The Print)
Greater Noida to host international Buddhist conference; CM Adityanath likely to attend (Hindustan Times)
Int’l Buddhist Confederation marks Abhidhamma Divas at Gautam Buddha University (ANI)
International Buddhist Confederation
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