Buddha statue to improve cultural ties

By Arun Ranjit, The Rising Nepal, May 1, 2005

Kathmandu, Nepal -- Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha, the Light of Asia and the Propagator of Peace. Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha in 623 BC in Lumbini of southern Nepal on full moon day. And it was on this same full moon day that he attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya and passed away into nirvana at Kusinagar of India.

In the course of spread of Buddhism throughout Asia, Buddhism was also introduced in China around first century. After long development and evolution, it was divided into Han Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism (popularly known as Lamaism and Pali Buddhism also known as Hinayana, or lesser Vehicle).

Tibet, at the beginning of the seventh century, knew nothing about Buddhism. It emerges from barbaric darkness only with the dawn of Buddhism in the seventh century. It was about in AD 640, the distorted form of Buddhism was introduced into Tibet. Han Buddhism is quite influential among the Han people.

Tibetan Buddhism is basically the religion of ethnic minorities such as Tibetan, Mongolian, Yugur, Moinba and Tu, with a total of about 7.6 million believers. Pali Buddhism is basically the religion of such ethnic minorities as Dai, Blang, De?ang and Wa, with the number of believers surpassing 1.5 million.

Currently, there are more than 13,000 Buddhist temples with about 200,000 monks and nuns in China. Of them, Tibetan Buddhism has about 120,000 lamas and nuns, over 1,700 living Buddha and more than 3,000 monasteries. Pali Buddhism has nearly 10,000 monks, nuns and elders, more than 1,600 temples. In areas inhabited by the Han people, 142 Buddhists temples are under states level protection.

The three language families of Buddhism have altogether 19 colleges/schools at the primary, secondary and senior levels, including 14 in Han, four in Tibetan and one in Pali.

His Majesty King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev unveiled a statue of Lord Buddha on the premises of the Boao Chan Monastery on April 25, 2005 at Boao of China?s Hainan Province. Their Majesties visited China to address the Boao Meeting after participating in Asia-Africa Summit held in Indonesia last week. The Buddha statue has been presented as a gift to the monastery on behalf of the Nepalese people to the people of China by His Majesty King Gyanendra.

According to the news report published in this paper last week, the Chief Abbot of the Monastery Ven. Sheng Hui had expressed his deep observation saying that, ?On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Nepal, the presentation of the Buddha statue to my temple by Their Majesties fully shows the deep affection of the Nepalese people towards the Chinese people?.

?The establishment of the Chinese Buddhists temple in Lumbini would play an active role in further enhancing the mutual understanding and friendship between the people and Buddhist of China and Nepal?, he further added.

?We firmly believe that the Buddhist statue will be the remarkable symbol of ever lasting friendship of China and Nepal?, opined the chief Abbot Sheng.

The huge monastery which started being built in 2003 was just completed at the cost of three billion (three arba) Chinese Yuan is situated at the bank of Wan Chen River in Boao of China?s Hainan Province.

As commanded by His Majesty, on the occasion, Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey highlighted the centuries old Nepal-China relationships.

Srochengompo (A.D. 617-650), the King of Tibet, who married Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti and Chinese Princess Wencheng, both Buddhist followers, was also the great follower of Buddhism. According to researchers, the Tibetan King had contributed a lot to bring peace in the country, and with the help of his Nepalese wife Bhrikuti, who carried with her the images of Buddha, Maitriya and a sandalwood image of Tara, planted the seed of Buddhism on the Tibetan soil.

As in the time of losing the peace by most of the people around the nook and corner of the globe, the philosophy propounded by Lord Buddha has been a great importance these days. Thus, taking the importance of the need of peace in the world, a host of stupas, monasteries and meditation centers have been constructed in Lumbini by various countries including China, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Germany, Korea embodying brotherhood envisaged by the Apostle of Peace some 2,500 years ago.

The noble life of Buddha and his teaching have brought the people of both the countries closer. The teaching of Buddhism has dominant influences on the Chinese way of life where many Chinese follow Buddhism. The people have great respect of elders and reverence to Buddhism. They are preserving the tradition of close family ties. Lord Buddha?s teaching of peace, compassion and non-violence have always been a source of inspiration for the people of the two countries.

Nepal and China have a long standing historical and diplomatic good relation. Nepalese daughter Bhrikuti?s marriage to Srochengompo and Arniko?s artistic hand for building Pagoda in China are considered as the symbol of genuine friendship.

As China is a neighbouring country, the relationship of two countries has been cordial and friendly. Currently, the visit of Their Majesties? to China has added one more friendship brick to enhance closer ties in various sectors including culture and better understanding of goodwill towards each other.

The government of China has succeeded in maintaining and promoting the relation with Nepal in the highest esteem. The half-a-century diplomatic ties between our two countries have withstood the test of time and have always been warm and friendly. Such a development would no doubt serve the cause of peace and stability in the Nepal-China?s centuries/decades long relations. Let?s hope the growing spirit of cooperation will pave the way for a new era of peace and prosperity between Nepal and China to reach at glorious height for the prosperity and peace of the people of both the countries.