India to send Buddha relics to Mongolia for display
This comes after the Mongolian government reached out to India. A delegation, led by Union Cabinet Minister Kiren Rijiju, is expected to travel to Mongolia around June 16 to hand over the relics for display during Mongolian Buddha Purnima celebrations.
Over 53% of the population of Mongolia follows Buddhism. The display of Buddha’s relics in other people’s countries is an important component of Buddhist ties. The last time Buddha relics were sent out of the country was in 2013 to Sri Lanka, ET has learned. The relics included bone fragments discovered at Kapilavastu. The request was made by former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
In April, an official request from the Mongolian government was forwarded to the Ministry of Culture by the East Asia Ministry of External Affairs, requesting that the relics of Lord Buddha be made available for display at Gandantegchinlen, the main Buddhist monastery in Mongolia on the occasion of the feast of Buddha. purnima which falls on June 14.
The ministry had in May given its approval in principle for the display of four pieces of sacred Buddha relics for display at the monastery, relaxing the condition of the “AA” grade of Buddha relics as a special case.
The ministry had decided to send an advance team to the monastery to check the security arrangements. The team was made up of officials from the ministry, the International Buddhist Confederation, which was founded in 2013 and aims to provide a platform for the global Buddhist community and the National Museum.
According to the Ministry of Culture’s 2014 guidelines on organizing international exhibitions, antiques and art treasures classified as “AA” should not be sent abroad. In 2017, the national museum was commissioned to categorize Buddha relics. An expert committee with officials from ASI, government and field experts from reputable institutions had given the Buddha relics an “AA” grade, which is why they were not sent anywhere until now. now, although there have been requests from countries like Sri Lanka, Thailand and South Korea.
Constrained by geography and sandwiched between China and Russia, Mongolia has often looked to India as its spiritual neighbor and often walked a tightrope with China on one side and the spiritual teacher Dalai Lama on the other. ‘other.
No Indian Prime Minister had visited Mongolia until 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the country. Last year marked the 66th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Mongolia, during which the two sides resumed physical interactions at high levels, followed by a visit by Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Minister of State to External Affairs in Mongolia in November last year.
Experts said the Sino-Indian geopolitical rivalry over Buddhist heritage is not new, but with China’s growing aggression, East Asia is important for India. India and China have made progress in increasing their influence in this region.
On Buddha Poornima day, PM Modi visited Lumbini, becoming the first Indian PM to do so. A few months ago, he inaugurated Kushinagar International Airport in eastern Uttar Pradesh to facilitate access for Buddhist pilgrims to the Mahaparinirvana Temple, where Lord Buddha attained nirvana.
Indra Narain Singh, a professor specializing in Buddhist studies at the University of Delhi, said the Indian government was following a dual strategy of showcasing its power as a “nerve center” of Buddhism to counter China’s influence, and to make efforts to attract more Buddhist tourists. to his spots.
“Buddha relics have unparalleled importance in Buddhism as they are most sacred to the temple. In doing so, India is not only building ties with East Asian countries, but sending a message to the world about its cultural power and its ability to fulfill its commitments with its allies by respecting and supporting their faith.