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India to host two-day international Buddhist conference

  • Category
    Art and culture
  • Published
    21st Apr, 2023

Context

The first Global Buddhist summit is going to be held in Delhi. Buddhist monks and others from 30 countries are expected to attend the event.

Key-highlights of the Summit

  • The summit is being organized in conjunction with the International Buddhist Conference, a non-governmental organization.
  • The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), an umbrella group that serves as a platform for Buddhists worldwide, is organising the event.
  • Theme: ‘Responses to contemporary challenges, philosophy to practice’.

Recently, India, which is the chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) grouping, organised a meet on Buddhist heritage involving all the countries.

About Buddhism

  • Buddhism is a non-theistic religion(no belief in a creator god), also considered a philosophy and a moral discipline, originating in India in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. 
  • It was founded by the sage Siddhartha Gautama(the Buddha 563 - 483 BCE) who had been a Hindu prince.
  • It remained a relatively minor school until the reign of Ashoka the Great (268-232 BCE) of the Mauryan Empire (322-185 BCE)who embraced and spread the belief, not only throughout India, but through Central and Southeast Asia.
  • Buddhism offers four primary sites of pilgrimage:
    • Lumbini (birthplace of the Buddha),
    • Bodh Gaya (the site where the Buddha attained enlightenment)
    • Sarnath (the location of the Buddha's first sermon)
    • Kushinagar (the location where the Buddha attained parinirvana)

Four Noble Truths

Buddha presented the Four Noble Truths as guiding principles: there is suffering in life; the cause of suffering is desire; ending desire means ending suffering; and following a controlled and moderate lifestyle will end desire, and therefore end suffering.

Noble Eightfold Path

In order to achieve the above goals (happiness), the Buddha presented the Noble Eightfold Path:

  1. right belief
  2. right resolve
  3. right speech
  4. right conduct
  5. right occupation
  6. right effort
  7. right mindfulness
  8. right samadhi—or meditation

According to Buddhist practice, following the Noble Eightfold Path will ultimately result in being liberated from samsara, the cycle of rebirth and suffering.

Main Branches of Buddhism

  • Theravada School of Buddhism: It was popularized in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China and other Asian countries.
  • According to the doctrine of Theravada Buddhism, an individual needs to abide by the basic principles of Buddhism strictly.
  • Mahayana School of Buddhism: The main idea behind Mahayana Buddhism is that anyone can reach the stature of the Buddha by following Buddha Marga. Mahasanghika sect is believed to be the source of the Mahayana Buddhism.
    • This school of Buddhism had a huge impact on China, Korea and Japan.
  • Vajrayana School of Buddhism:This is the tantric school of Buddhism. It is believed that by practicing Vajrayana, a Buddhist follower can achieve enlightenment easily.
    • It is more popularly used in Tibetan Buddhism. When considered on a larger aspect, it is a part of the Mahayana school of Buddhism.
    • It is also commonly referred to as ‘Lamaism’ because at the center of the school lies the 

Incline and Decline of Buddhism in India

  • In the 3rd century B.C., Ashoka the Great, the Mauryan Indian emperor, made Buddhism the state religion of India. Buddhist monasteries were built, and missionary work was encouraged.
    • Over the next few centuries, Buddhism began to spread beyond India.
  • With the collapse of the Pala dynastyin the 12th century, Indian Buddhism suffered yet another setback, from which it did not recover. 
  • By the 13th and 14th centuries, the great Buddhist centres and universities of India were destroyed by foreign invaders, both in the eastern plains and in Kashmir.
  • The roots that fed the Buddhist culture and art of the Himalayas and beyond were cut, and eventually Tibet and Nepal were left to preserve this rich heritage on their own. 

Buddhism’s influence in the present times

  • Buddhism’s influence remains present in Indian art, culture, and architecture.
  • The three lions of the Ashoka pillar, which independent India adopted as its national emblem, are a symbol of the impact of Buddhist thought on the country and its people.
  • As of 2011, there are over 8 million practicing Buddhistsin India.
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