Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday proposed the creation of a library that will bring together Buddhist literature and philosophy found in monasteries around the world and serve as a platform for research and dialogue.
Modi made the proposal during his virtual address to the sixth India-Japan Samvad Conference that was also addressed by his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga. The conference was launched in line with a joint proposal from the leaders of Japan and India in 2014, and has since been held in New Delhi, Tokyo, Yangon and Ulaanbaatar.
Noting that examples of Buddhist literature and philosophy can be found in monasteries in many countries and in different languages, Modi said this body of works is a treasure of humankind.
“Today, I would like to propose the creation of a library of all such traditional Buddhist literature and scriptures. We will be happy to create such a facility in India and will provide appropriate resources for it,” he said.
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The library will collect digital copies of Buddhist literature from different countries and aim to translate them and make them freely available for all monks and scholars.
“The library will not only be a depository of literature. It will also be a platform for research and dialogue – a true ‘Samvad’ between human beings, between societies, and between man and nature,” Modi said.
The library’s research mandate will include examining how Buddha’s message can guide the modern world in tackling contemporary challenges such as poverty, racism, extremism, gender discrimination and climate change, he added.
Pointing to his recent visit to Sarnath, where Lord Buddha spoke in detail about his ideal of Dhamma, Modi said this was about more than prayer and rituals. “At the centre of Dhamma are humans, and their relation with fellow humans. Thus, it is most important to be a positive force in the lives of others,” he added.
Modi also said the time had come to change the paradigm on what is seen as growth. “Discussions on global growth cannot happen only between a few. The table must be bigger. The agenda must be broader. Growth patterns must follow a human-centric approach,” he said.
Suga, in his address, said diverse values have been nurtured across Asia since ancient times. “Buddhism and Hinduism teach compassion. Confucianism teaches ‘Ren’ or benevolence. Islam teaches tolerance. And in Japan, we have the spirit of ‘Wa’ or harmony,” he said.
“These values have one thing in common: an attitude to cherish and respect diversity and tolerance. We can say that democracy in Asia have taken root, deeply and widely, and evolved based on such traditional thoughts and beliefs,” he added.
Suga also said the experiences of Asian countries have show that there are different historical and cultural backgrounds behind the consolidation of democracy. “Japan will continue to stand side by side with each country and work together to further develop democracy in Asia,” he added.