New Delhi: Noting that the teachings of Lord Buddha were as relevant in the current times as they were earlier, both President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that as the world fought extraordinary challenges, his message served like a beacon.
Addressing the Dhamma Chakra Day celebrations, organised by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) in partnership with Ministry of Culture, Kovind said Lord Buddha's cure for human suffering remains as relevant today as it was over two and half millennia ago.
"There is no doubt that the urgency of abiding by the values that Buddha preached is eternal...Today, as the pandemic ravages human lives and economies across the globe, the Buddha's message serves like a beacon. He advised people to shun greed, hatred, violence, jealousy and many other vices to find happiness," he said.
Kovind said that in India, Buddhism is seen as a fresh expression of the sublime truth.
"His enlightenment, and the subsequent preaching by him for over four decades, were in line with India's tradition of respect for intellectual liberalism and spiritual diversity," said Kovind.
Dhamma Chakra Day is celebrated all over the world to commemorate the first sermon that Gautama Buddha gave to his five ascetic disciples.
The PM in his virtual address said that in his first sermon at Sarnath, Lord Buddha referred to hope and purpose. For Lord Buddha, it was the removal of human suffering, the prime minister observed.
"We have to rise to the occasion and do whatever we can to increase hope among people," he said.
Modi also said that India's start up sector is a great example of how hope, innovation and compassion can remove suffering.
"Bright young minds are finding solutions to global problems. India has one of the largest start-up ecosystems," he said.
Recalling the eight-fold path of Lord Buddha, Modi said it shows the way towards the well-being of many societies and nations.
It highlights the importance of compassion and kindness, he said adding that the teachings of Lord Buddha celebrate simplicity both in thought and action.
"Today the world fights extraordinary challenges. To these challenges, lasting solutions can come from the ideals of Lord Buddha. They were relevant in the past. They are relevant in the present. And, they will remain relevant in the future," Modi said.
Buddhism, the prime minister noted, teaches respect. "Respect for people. Respect for the poor. Respect for women. Respect for peace and non-violence. Therefore, the teachings of Buddhism are the means to a sustainable planet." Modi said he is very hopeful about the 21st century.
"This hope comes from my young friends, our youth... would urge my young friends to also stay connected with the thoughts of Lord Buddha. They will motivate and show the way ahead," he said.
The president inaugurated the Dharma Chakra Day, while the president of Mongolia read out a special address. Also, the Minister of Culture Prahlad Patel and Minister of State for Minorities Affairs Kiren Rijiju addressed the opening ceremony.
Patel in his address said that the message of Lord Buddha has permeated globally and it was everyone's responsibility to spread his teachings.
The culture minister said his ministry has again presented the copies of 'Mongolian Kanjur' in front of the country and abroad. Patel gave the copies of Mongolian Kanjur to Kovind and Ambassador of Mongolia to India Gonching Ganboid.
He said that the ministry has decided to deliver these copies in all the monasteries of Mongolia. Patel added that it has 108 sections and "we are printing five volumes, but it is our resolution that we will take all 108 volumes to them".
Mongolian Kanjur, a Buddhist canonical text in 108 volumes, is the most important religious text in Mongolia. In Mongolian language 'Kanjur' means 'Concise Orders' the words of Lord Buddha.
Rijiju said that the values and teachings of Buddhism are very much at heart of India's ethos and cultural identity.
"The historical legacy of our great land being the land of Buddha's enlightenment and awakening connects us intimately with not only Buddhists but everybody who understand and follows Buddhism and everyone who values love, compassion around the world," he said.
Other events included messages from top Buddhist religious leaders, masters and scholars from different parts of the world which was streamed from Sarnath and Bodh Gaya.
The rest of the day?'s celebrations will be streamed from Mulagandha Kuti Vihara, Sarnath and Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya in association with Mahabodhi Society of India and Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee.