(TibetanReview.net, Dec28’22) – The Dalai Lama has on Dec 27 inaugurated a five-year Pali and Sanskrit International Bhikkhu Exchange Programme at the Wat-pa Thai Temple at Bodh Gaya, Bihar. He is at the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site after a gap of nearly two years to give religious teachings over Dec 29-31 and will be offered a long-life prayer service on Jan 1.
The exchange programme is being organized in partial fulfilment of His Holiness’s commitment to promote human values, to encourage harmony among the world’s religious traditions, to ensure the preservation of Tibetan culture and to prompt a revival of awareness of the value of ancient Indian knowledge, Ven Khensur Lobsang Gyaltsen of Drepung Gomang Monastery has explained in his welcome address.
“We are all followers of Buddha Shakyamuni,” he has said, “and bringing about world peace is our common goal. The programme is intended to strengthen relationships between followers of the Pali and Sanskrit traditions, allowing them to learn about each other.”
Ven Dr Phra Bodhinandhamunee, Abbot of the Wat-pa Temple, has expressed appreciation that this was the third occasion on which His Holiness had blessed the community. He has appreciated that the five-year exchange programme was to begin that day from his monastic premises.
Ven Dr Dhammapiya, Secretary General of the International Buddhist Confederation, has remarked that the Buddha spoke of one path, one dhamma, therefore we have to keep our hearts and minds open and appreciate how Buddhism has evolved in the array of Buddhist countries.
“Let us connect with one another,” he has urged and noted a slogan he had seen at the airport the day before, which said ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’. “On such a basis we can create a peaceful, harmonious world.”
Chief Guest, Most Ven Dr Warakagoda Dhammasiddhi, sitting next to His Holiness, has praised the intention to create mutual understanding among different Buddhist cultures with closer interaction among their monks. He has expressed a wish to convey the heartfelt gratitude of the Sri Lankan Maha Sangha for this precious opportunity.
In his address, the Dalai Lama has said: “We all want to be happy, therefore we should seek friendship and harmony between us. Since religious practice is about cultivating goodwill and affection it’s very sad when we witness quarrelling among members of this or that tradition. As far as we are concerned, we must do our best to follow the teaching of the Buddha sincerely. If the Buddha were to observe us arguing or criticising each other, I think he might ask us not to do that.
“We follow the same teacher and essentially the same teaching, therefore there’s every reason why there should be harmony between us whether we belong to the Pali or Sanskrit tradition.”
He has also said: “There may be some differences between our various traditions, but the important point is that we are all followers of the same teacher. Therefore, it’s essential that we are friendly and respectful towards one another.”
The formal launch of the exchange programme has taken place with the unfurling of banners by the principal guests that included His Holiness the Dalai Lama and signing of a declaration of intent.
The Pali language tradition, also known as the Theravada School, is followed predominantly by Buddhist in the southeast Asian countries while Tibetan Buddhists and many others – such as those in China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia – follow the Sanskrit language tradition, which emerged later, with the Tibetan tradition also being referred to as the Vajrayana.
Before the event began, the Dalai Lama has consecrated a statue of the Buddha before taking his seat on the platform where the other guests included the Sakya Gongma Trichen Rinpoché and the Gaden Tri Rinpoché.