Sinhala Buddhists should visit Pakistan, says Professor

Lanka Daily News, Sept 13, 2007

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sinhala Buddhists should be encouraged to visit Pakistan as they do to Buddhagaya, for the Relics of the Buddha are also preserved in Pakistan, thanks to the Pakistani Government and its Cultural Ministry, Prof. J. B. Dissanayake Ambassador designate to Thailand said.

Addressing those present at the launching of the Sinhala translation of ‘Buddhist Gandara - History, Art and Architecture’ at the Hilton Hotel on Monday, the Professor said that Sri Lanka highly appreciated the efforts of the Pakistan Government to preserve the Relics of the Gauthama Buddha, a treasure valued by Buddhists around the world.

Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told the gathering that he was surprised to see how Pakistan, a Muslim country has preserved the Buddhist heritage.

“My visit to the those Museums in Pakistan helped, me to relive what I had studied in the classroom about the Buddha and His way from Sathsathiya to Parinirvana. We are more than grateful to the Pakistani Government for taking steps to protect our Buddhist Heritage though it is a Muslim country now”.

Prof. Tilak Hettiarchchi, Vice Chancellor of the Colombo University who made the keynote address commended the efforts of the Pakistani High Commission in Sri Lanka in introducing the Buddhist heritage found in Pakistan for the edification of the devotees and the general public.

He said that Pakistan is in possession of another Relic of the Buddha and have exposed to the world the Buddhist heritage without hiding their past.

He said before partition the Buddha was in one country but with the creation of Pakistan, a part of the Buddhist heritage went to that country too and although the country is a Muslim country , they have not destroyed what history has given them but have taken pains to protect it and thus given a lesson in cohabitation and co-existence of various faiths.

Pakistan High Commissioner Shahzad A. Chaudhry said that it was important for Sri Lankans in general and Buddhists in particular to know the rich heritage and shared bonds with the historical lands of Gandara and Thakshila held in great respect and reverence even today by his country as a treasured part of the past and present of his country.

The book ‘Buddhist Gandara, History, Art and Architecture’ by world famous Pakistani Archaeologist and Museologist Ihsan H. Nadiem was translated into Sinhala by M.S. Hussein.

It was launched by handing over the first copy to the Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter the Most Ven. Udugama Sri Dhammadassi Buddharakkitha Thera by the High Commissioner in the presence of Ministers, Members of Parliament, scholars, businessmen and media personnel.