oli admin seeks to assert claims

  • buddha, buddhism and int’l conference
- John Narayan Parajuli, Kathmandu

May 19, 2016-

The Oli administration is planning to utilise the two-day third Buddhist International Conference that begins from Thursday to seek endorsement of Nepal’s position on Lord Budhha’s birthplace and origin of Buddhism. This will be done through academic papers, historical records and archaeological findings presented during the conference, said a senior government official.

This is likely to come into conflict with the views often promoted by the Indian government on the origin of Buddhism that claims that Buddha was born in India and that by virtue of Buddha attaining enlightenment in Bodh Gaya in Bihar, Buddhism, in extension, began in India. 

Talking to journalists on the eve of the third International Buddhist Conference being held in Kathmandu, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Aanand Prasad Pokhrel said that the conference will “set the record straight and counter other narratives on Buddhism.”

“This conference will endorse the fact that Buddha was born in Nepal and that Nepal is the fountainhead of Buddhism,” said Minister Pokhrel at press conference where he was flanked by senior government officials, Professor Naresh Man Bajracharya, vice-chancellor of Lumbini World Buddhist University, Monk Negroj, vice president of Lumbini Development Trust and Prem Rai, secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

Narrating a version of history, Minister Pokhrel, who comes from Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s home district Jhapa, sought to impress journalists with his knowledge of Buddhist history and origin. “If you are a believer of faith, you won’t dispute the fact that Buddha spent his initial 29 years in Lumbini and on day seven of his birth, he displayed clear signs of divinity,” said Pokhrel, a CPN-UML leader. The conference will have government-level delegation from 28 countries.

Oli government’s pursuit of certain policies is increasingly likely to bring it in conflict with one neighbour over the other. In an article in the Catch News, an Indian news portal, journalist Bharat Bhusan reported that India had decided to boycott the conference over its perception of heavy Chinese influence in how it was being organised. India, Bhusan wrote, was unhappy over the use of Chinese funds, changing of the theme and the effort to give “primacy to Lumbini over Bodh Gaya.”

Particularly the sub-theme of the conference “Lumbini—Birthplace of Buddha” to “Lumbini—Fountainhead of Buddhism,” reportedly is of concern to Indian authorities.

Interestingly, a senior official of the Chinese Buddhist Association was present during the press conference. 

Minister Pokhrel identified him as a co-organiser of the conference. Pokhrel, however, dismissed claims that India was upset. He said that the Indian government would be represented by Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae in the conference. The Indian Embassy in Kathmandu confirmed that Ambassador Rae would attend the conference.

 

 

Published: 19-05-2016 08:14

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