Global Buddhist summit

General Studies Paper 1

Context: PM inaugurated the First Global Buddhist Summit hosted by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation.

About the Summit

  • Theme: “Responses to Contemporary Challenges: Philosophy to Praxis”.
  • Aim:The Summit is an effort towards engaging the global Buddhist Dhamma  leadership and scholars on matters of Buddhist  and universal concerns, and to come up with policy inputs to address them collectively.
  • Highlights: 
    • The Summit witnessed the participation of eminent scholars, Sangha leaders and Dharma practitioners from all over the world.
    • PM also offered monk robes (Chivar Dana)to nineteen eminent monks.
    • The discussions were held under four themes:
      • Buddha Dhamma and Peace;
      • Buddha Dhamma: Environmental Crisis, Health and Sustainability;
      • Preservation of Nalanda Buddhist Tradition;
      • Buddha Dhamma Pilgrimage, Living Heritage and Buddha Relics: a resilient foundation to India’s centuries-old cultural links to countries in South, South-East and East Asia.
    • The Prime Minister gave the example of Mission LiFE , an initiative by India which he said was influenced by the inspirations of Buddha.
    • On the occasion, an exhibition, the Panch Pradarshanwas was organised depicting the rich cultural legacy of Buddha manifesting in the heritage of Vadnagar city, Gujarat, travel accounts of Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang, work of Buddhist religious leader and master Atisa Dipankara Srijana, and Digital Restoration of Ajanta Paintings.


  • Siddhartha, also known as Gautama was  the founder of Buddhism
    • Born: 563 BC in Lumbini (modern-day Nepal).
  • He  belonged to a small gana known as the Sakya gana, and was a kshatriya.
  • He left his worldly possessions and princedom in search of knowledge. He wandered for several years, meeting and holding discussions with other thinkers.
  • He attained enlightenment under the peepal tree in Bodh Gaya in Bihar and gave his first sermon at Sarnath near Varanasi which is known as Dharma-Chakra-Pravartana (turning of the wheel of law).
  • He spent the rest of his life travelling on foot, going from place to place, teaching people, till he passed away at Kusinara.


  • Buddhism also spread to western and southern India, where dozens of caves were hollowed out of hills for monks to live in
  • Buddhism also spread south eastwards, to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, and other parts of Southeast Asia including Indonesia.


  • The Buddha taught that life is full of suffering and unhappiness .
    • This is caused because we have cravings and desires (which often cannot be fulfilled).
  • He also taught people to be kind, and to respect the lives of others, including animals.
  • He believed that the results of our actions (called karma), whether good or bad, affect us both in this life and the next.
  • The Buddha taught in the language of the ordinary people, Prakrit, so that everybody could understand his message .

Its Relevance  for Peace in World

  • The concept of peace is central to Buddhism. Therefore, the Buddha is called the “Santiraja” ‘king of peace. 
  • Leading a Buddhist way of life, is to maintain harmonious, untroubled good life, which consists of “samacariya”, which literally means, a harmonious life or a peaceful way of living with one’s fellow beings.
  • The Buddha, with great compassion for the world, required his followers to practice the four boundless states (appamanna)of loving kindness (metta), of compassion (karuna), of sympathetic joy (mudita), and of equanimity (upekkha). 
  • This practice of ‘metta’ or universal love,begins by suffusing ones own mind with universal love (metta) and then pervading it to one’s family, then to the neighbors, then to the village, country and the four corners of the Universe.

India’s soft power diplomacy through Buddhism

  • Buddhism’s potential utility in foreign policy is derived to a large extent from the manner in which the faith was revived in the aftermath of the Second World War.
  • The revival of the faith had a decidedly internationalist outlook to it, and focused on transgressing extant sectarian and geographical boundaries.
  • The Buddhist faith, due to its emphasis on peaceful co-existence and its wide pan-Asian presence, lends itself well to soft-power diplomacy.
  • In speeches made on official international visits such as to Sri Lanka and China, among others, India’s Prime Minister has made a conscious effort to emphasise shared Buddhist heritage.
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