Colombo, May 12 (newsin.asia): The visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced his decision to launch a direct Air India flight between Colombo and Varanasi in August this year to facilitate Sri Lankans’ pilgrimages to Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kashi.
In his speech delivered as the Chief Guest at the inaugural session of the 14 th.International Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo, Modi said that the direct flight by the State-owned airline will enable Sri Lankan Buddhists to reach Sarnath, Sravasti, Kushinagara and other places more easily.
“ And our Tamil brethren will be able to worship at the Lord Vishwanath temple at Kashi with less hassles,” he added.
In this context, Modi proudly stated that he represents Varanasi in the Indian parliament.
Glorifying the teachings of the Buddha and pointing out their relevance to addressing the problems of the crisis-ridden modern world, Modi said that Vesak day is a day for rejoicing as well as reflection on the “timeless truth of the Dhamma” which the Buddha preached.
The Dhamma’s call for the inculcation of generosity, proper conduct, wisdom, energy, tolerance, truthfulness, determination, loving kindness and equanimity is of great relevance to the conflict-ridden present day world just as it was in Buddha’s time.
Modi quoted the Buddha to say that the Dhamma is the greatest gift one can bestow on anyone.
The region of which India and Sri Lanka are part, is blessed to have given the world the invaluable gift of Buddhism he said, and described Vesak Day as a day of enormous significance for Sri Lanka, India and the world. India and Sri Lanka, he added, should work together to preserve the Buddhist heritage.
Modi said that the Indian national psyche manifests the spirit of Buddhism and recalled that it was from India that the “fragrance of Buddhism” spread to other parts of the world including Sri Lanka. However, it was Si Lanka which preserved Buddhism. But in a reverse movement many centuries later, Anagarika Dharmapala, a Sri Lankan, journeyed to India to revive Buddhism there.
“From the earliest times to the present day, Buddhism has given radiance to the relationship between India and Sri Lanka,” Modi said.
The Indian Prime Minister used the occasion is push his agenda for greater economic cooperation between the two countries.
“It is a moment of great opportunity for strengthening ties and taking a quantum jump in several field of cooperation,” he said, and added that the benchmark of progress in India-Sri Lanka development cooperation will be “Sri Lanka’s satisfaction.”
He promised that India’s 1.2 billon people will stand by Si Lanka as it progresses towards development and prosperity.
Modi urged cooperation in the field of connectivity, trade, industry, Information Technology, energy and sharing of knowledge and pointed out that the foundation is quite strong given the fact that India’s development cooperation with Sri Lanka is already worth US$ 2.6 billion.
Touching on security, the Indian Prime Minister said that the security of India and Sri Lanka is “indivisible” and therefore India and Sri Lanka should join hands to ensure security in the Indian Ocean Region.
Speaking on the all pervasive problem of international conflicts and terrorism Modi said that the only way to get round them would be to adopt the Buddha’s way which calls for peace, inclusion, compassion and accommodation.
Calling for an awakening to this, Modi quoted the Buddha in Pali to say while others shine only for a while, the one who shines always is the “awakened one”.
(The featured picture at the top shows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Sri Lankan leaders at the International Vesak Day conference in Colombo, on May 12,2017)