SCO Buddhist Heritage Meet
Art and culture
17th Mar, 2023
India hosted the SCO Tourism Ministers’ meeting in Varanasi, designated as the first cultural capital of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
About the event
- The event is a first of its kind, under India’s leadership of SCO (for a period of one-year, from 17 September 2022 until September 2023).
- It brought together Central Asian, East Asian, South Asian and Arab countries on a common platform to discuss “Shared Buddhist Heritage”.
- Organized by: Ministry of Culture, Ministry of External Affairs, and the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC-as a grantee body of the Ministry of Culture).
- Aim: to re-establish trans-cultural links, seek out commonalities, between Buddhist art of Central Asia, art styles, archaeological sites and antiquity in various museums’ collections of the SCO countries.
- 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 l. c. 563 - c. 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.
Connection of SCO and Buddhism
- Several member states of SCO, such as India, China, Central Asian Republics and even Russia have Buddhist heritage.
- Buddhist heritage can still be found in countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, where ancient ruins, art, and artefacts bear witness to the religion's former prominence.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):
- The SCO comprises China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as member-states.
- It has observer-states namely as Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia.
- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Nepal are SCO dialogue partners. Of these, Buddhism is among the dominant philosophies in countries such as China, Mongolia, Nepal and Cambodia.