Vaishakh Shukla 10, Vik.Samvat 2073. Yugabda 5118: 16 May 2016

3. SARASANGHACHALAKJI AT KUMBH 4. Imbibe Ideals Of Tagore That Rejected Race And Culture: RASHTRAPATI
7. 'Group of Intellectuals & Academicians' Anniversary 8. Yoga Good For Health, AIIMS
9. Yoga, meditation may reduce Alzheimer's risk Study 10. Raja Rajeswari is New York's first BHARATIYA-American woman judge
11. HRSC Plants Its 100,000th Tree 12. BHARATIYA-origin Murali Pillai elected to Singapore parliament
13. PIOs to be part of Pentagon IT military venture 14. Ancient Hindu temple reopenS in Srinagar







1. FESTIVALS: FOCUS ON TRIBAL CULTURE, ARTS AT SIMHASTHA MELA: On the eve of the second Shahi Snan of Simhastha at Ujjain, a large number of devotees from within the country and abroad enjoyed various arts till wee hours in the morning by listening to spiritual and religious discourses at various akharas. Tribal artistes from various states of the country with their unique musical instruments gave presentations on tribal arts and culture.           

The Second Shahi Snan during Simhastha at Ujjain began with fervour, enthusiasm and great devotion on May 9. Saints and seers of various Akharas had the holy dip in Kshipra at Ramghat. Running while raising slogans praising Mahadev, saints and seers had a mass holy dip. Naga Sadhus' holy dip was special attraction at Ramghat. Unique convergence of faith, Amrit and Atma was seen during Shahi Snan. Vast and attractive Ramghat was virtually covered by glory of Lord Shiva with mass holy dip by saints, seers and Mahatmas. -goTop


2. 'VICHAR MAHAKUMBHA' AT SIMHASTHA AT UJJAIN: Inaugurating a three-day 'Vichar Mahakumbha' as part of the ongoing Simhastha Kumbh at Ninnaura near Ujjain  on May 12, rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarasanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat said those born in Bharat have two mothers: one biological and the other 'Bharat Mata'. He said Bharat had assimilated all those who came to live here over the centuries. In the valedictory address of the 'Vichar Mahakumbha', Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi said, "A 'holier than thou' attitude is taking us towards conflicts. "Let's look within and see how we can grow ourselves." A Simhasth declaration was also unfurled which has 51 elixir points derived after intense brainstorming which will start new discourse not only in Bharat but around the world. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who released the declaration along with Mr. Modi, pointed out that his first visit after being elected as President was to Bharat.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to saints to hold Vichar Kumbh every year with devotees and discuss issues like the need to plant trees or educate the girl child.

Pradhan Mantri said the country should embrace and welcome change. Earlier, even crossing the seas was considered unholy but that has changed, he said. "India has a global duty to unite because it (the country) is good at that," he said, adding that the country should present its traditional knowledge and values before the world in a scientific way.

He appealed to all 13 akharas (religious bodies), whose heads were in the audience, to spare one week every year to focus on issues such as environment and empowerment of the girl child. "Talk of moksha," he told the sadhus, "but also talk about these issues by calling experts - and even atheists and irreligious people." A confluence of inter-faith spiritual leaders also addressed the closing session. -goTop


3. SARASANGHACHALAKJI AT KUMBH: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarasanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat Bhagwat took a holy dip with members of tribal communities in the Kshipra river in Ujjain. On May 13, he squatted and ate meals with the sanitary workers (safai karamcharis) at Shri Guru Karshanaik ashram in Ujjain. He also addressed a 'Janjati Sammelan', a gathering of members of tribal communities from Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and other places, organised by the VKP in Ujjain.

"The sense of belongingness and sharing are the tenets of Hindu religion. Time has come that the tribal representatives stood up for them and demand their rights," he said. -goTop


4. Imbibe Ideals Of Tagore That Rejected Race And Culture: RASHTRAPATI PRANAB MUKHERJEE in his message on the 155th birth anniversary of Gurudev Ravindranath Tagore on May 7 asked people to draw inspiration from his "spirit of Bharat" which proclaimed the ideal of unity that rejects race or culture. "Gurudev made us realize that literature, histories and cultures represent common ideals of humanity that transcend national limits. It is this sense of a shared humanity, a Vishva - that Tagore sang of in his literature and music," he said.

"Gurudev Tagore had a perfect sense of synergy and joy-the joy of submission to a divine power, the joy of surrendering the self, of participating in the vast expanse of nature and reading out to the nooks and corners of humanity," he added. Earlier he paid floral tributes to Ravindranath Tagore at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan. -goTop


5. Cattle Fodder DISTRIBUTION IN North Karnataka: RSS distributed nearly 65 tonnes of Cattle Fodder at different drought hit villages of Northern Karnataka as a part of its drought relief campaign. RSS Karnataka Uttara Pranth Sah-Sanghachalak Aravinda Rao Deshapande, RSS Karnataka Uttara Pranth Sah Karyavah Sridhar Nadgir visited few villages along with other local functionaries and joined RSS team doing fodder distribution.

Hadalagi  Village of Alanda Taluk of Gulbarga district, Bharamakhodi Village of Athani Taluk of Belagavi district, Kodliwada Village of Kundagola Taluk in Dharawada district, Chikli, Matkhed, Dabka and Ganeshpur villages of Aurad Taluk, few villages of Bhalki and Basavakalyana Taluk of Bidar district among the major villages where

RSS appealed the citizens to contribute for Drought relief Fund. -goTop


6. MOHAD & BAGHUWAR: DISPUTE-FREE FOR OVER A DECADE: Mohad and Baghuwar are two villages in Kareli Tehsil of Narsinghpur District in Madhya Pradesh. About 20 years back they were like any other backward village. But now they are role model in respect of development.

Mohad, with a population of 4,500, is now hundred per cent literate where a large number of people speak Sanskrit also. There are 42 types of small and cottage industries. Every inch of the agriculture land is irrigated. Many farmers have adopted organic farming. No family uses wood for cooking meals as almost every house has a bio-gas plant or LPG connection.  Every house has a toilet. No dispute of the village is pending in any court. The man behind this revolution was the late Surendra Singh Chauhan, the former Akhil Bharatiya Gram Vikas Pramukh of the RSS. Nobody throws garbage on the streets and every family cleans the street outside their houses. Government officials regularly visit the village to learn this method of development.

Baghuwar was felicitated by President of Bharat about a decade back for building toilets in all houses. The village has presented an example worth emulating in respect of utilising government funds. A big board welcomes every visitor proudly displaying the information that 'every house in this village has a toilet'.

People work hand in hand for the success of government schemes by giving their 100% contribution regarding money, efforts and skill. Thus the villagers participate in the development work with full dedication. That is why the actual work done is more than the sanctioned. The Government granted Rs two lakh for building community centre, but the villagers spent Rs five lakh on it. Similarly the Panchayat received Rs 2.5 lakh for stop dam but the villagers spent Rs five lakh on it also. Rs 1.5 lakh were received for the Manas Satsang Bhavan but the villagers spent more than rupees five lakh.

Similarly, Rs 1.96 lakh were received for upgrading the school up to high school level but the villagers spent 3.5 lakh. When people contribute from their own pockets the question of corruption does not arise at all. Interestingly, no dispute of the village is pending in any court. -goTop


 7. 'Group of Intellectuals & Academicians' Anniversary: Bharat is perhaps the only country in the world that has not colonized, enslaved, exploited nor conquered any nation, said Dr. Krishan Gopal, Sah Sarkaryawah of RSS in Delhi speaking at the first anniversary celebrations of the Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA), a forum for socially committed professional women. Taking the same theme forward, keynote speaker Ms. Monika Arora, the convener of GIA explained that the season of Spring (also the Bharatiya New Year) - Basant Ritu, in the Bharatiya Rashtra is observed all through the country, in Punjab it is Baisakhi, in Assam it is Bohaag Bihu etc. Other eminent scholars and activists present were Nandkumar, Akhil Bhartiya Sah Prachar Pramukh of RSS, Dinanath Batra, educational activist and Dr Rama Principal of Hansraj College. -goTop


8. Yoga Good For Health, AIIMS: Yoga should be practiced to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to keep diseases at bay, Director AIIMS, New Delhi, Dr MC Mishra, said while inaugurating a symposium on Mind Body Synergy and Stress held in the Conference Hall on 9th May. A book written by ex-professor AIIMS, Dr. Ramesh Bijlani, A Primer on Yoga: Theory and Practice was also released on the occasion. Those who spoke on the occasion included Dr Ramesh Bijlani, Prof K K Dipak, head, Department of Physiology, Dr Gopichandran, Director, Vigyan Prasar, MS Aditi, Counsellor, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and Dr Rajkumar Yadav. Symposium was organized by AIIMS, New Delhi and National Book Trust India, Ministry of Human Resource Development. -goTop


9. Yoga, meditation may reduce Alzheimer's risk: Study Yoga and meditation practice may help minimize the cognitive and emotional problems that often precede Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study. Researchers found that yoga and meditation are even more effective than memory enhancement exercises like crosswords.

"Memory training was comparable to yoga with meditation in terms of improving memory, but yoga provided a broader benefit than memory training because it also helped with mood, anxiety and coping skills," said Helen Lavretsky from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the US.

The study is the first to compare outcomes from yoga and meditation with those from memory training, which incorporates activities ranging from crossword puzzles to commercially available computer programmes. The research of 25 participants, all over the age of 55, measured changes not just in behaviour but also in brain activity. Researchers studied participants who had reported issues with their memory, such as tendencies to forget names, faces or appointments or to misplace things. Subjects underwent memory tests and brain scans at the beginning and end of the study. -goTop


10. Raja Rajeswari is New York's first BHARATIYA-American woman judge: Chennai-born Raja Rajeswari has been sworn-in as a criminal court judge in New York. Ms. Rajeswari, 43, who had migrated to the U.S. from Chennai as a teenager, previously worked with the Richmond County District Attorney's Office for her entire career in several bureaus including Criminal Court, Narcotics, Supreme Court, and the Sex Crimes Special Victims Bureau, where she last served as Deputy Chief.

"To ensure New Yorkers have access to a fair, equitable justice system, we need judges who are qualified, honest and reflective of the people of this city," The Mayor de Blasio said.

"I'm honoured to sit on a city bench and make Staten Island proud," Rajeswari said. Besides her legal acumen Ms Rajeswari is an accomplished Bharathanatyam and Kucchipudi dancer who continues to perform at Bharatiya events and temples with her troupe from the Padmalaya Dance Academy. -goTop


11. HRSC Plants Its 100,000th Tree: The Hindu Religious and Service Centre (HRSC) reached a milestone on April 24, when it planted its 100,000th tree.

The project started in 2005 with the planting of 500 trees at Ndakaini Dam. The HRSC set up a team to lead the project which has now become a landmark project with the generosity of numerous sponsors over time, and the partnership with various local communities. The HRSC has been planting trees every rainy season, for the last 11 years.

"The beauty of the project is not in the number of trees planted but in the survival rate of the trees. The HRSC has managed to achieve a survival rate of about 85% of the trees planted which is much higher than the national average of approximately 25%", read a report from HRSC. -goTop


12. BHARATIYA-origin Murali Pillai elected to Singapore parliament: A Bharatiya-origin man from Singapore's ruling People's Action Party (PAP) was elected member of the parliament on May 7 following his victory in the by-election held at suburban Bukit Batok constituency. Murali Pillai garnered 61.21% of the votes, while Singapore Democratic Party's Chee Soon Juan got 38.79% of votes. The Bukit Batok single seat was vacated when previous PAP MP David Ong resigned in March, following an alleged extramarital affair with a PAP activist. -goTop


13. PIOs to be part of Pentagon IT military venture: US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has appointed two Bharatiya Americans - a former F-16 pilot and an Iraq war veteran - in leadership positions for the Pentagon's centre in Silicon Valley aimed at innovation in IT solutions for the military. The four-member team of Raj Shah and Vishaal Hariprasad, along with Christopher Kirchhoff and Isaac Taylor, would report directly to Carter, as he announced to scale up his brainchild Defence Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) opened in Silicon Valley last year. -goTop


14. Ancient Hindu temple reopenS in Srinagar: A centuries old Baital Bhairo Temple in the highly-sensitive area of Srinagar, which was closed after most pandits were forced to migrate to Jammu and other parts of the country due to militancy in 1990, was reopened on April 28. After the reopening of the temple, Jogi langar  in Rainawari area -  the locality in the heart of old Srinagar city that was once home to a high number of Kashmiri pandits - is again reverberating with the sound of temple bells after 27 long years.

According to KPSS (Kashmiri Pundit Sangarsh Samiti), there were 583 temples in Kashmir before militancy set in. Of these, 532, including the 52 which disappeared without a trace, were damaged in different militancy-related incidents. KPSS has decided to approach mosques for help to reopen temples. -goTop


15. SOMNATH TEMPLE RECEIVES 40-KG GOLD OFFERING: A Mumbai-based family has donated over 40 kgs gold to the Somnath temple in Gujarat. "The family of Dilipbhai Lakhi, a diamond merchant, has donated 40.270kg of gold to the temple on May 8," Somnath Trust Secretary Pravinbhai K Laheri said. The temple has received donation of more than 100kg of gold from the same family over last three years. -goTop


16. BHARAT'S RESEARCH WORK GROWING: Bharat's research performance in science and technology has improved significantly over the past few years. Scholarly output in the country grew by 13.9% during 2009-13, against a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.1% for the world.

In 2013, Bharat held over 3% of the world's top 10% cited papers. This indicates Bharat is not just growing scientifically, but growing aggressively at the very top end of scientific excellence. Bharat's share of world patent citation, or patent cited for later papers or patents, also improved from 2.2% in 2009 to almost 3% in 2013. Experts said, in absolute terms, the growth was significant with Bharat registering 109 patent citations in 2013. The findings are part of a new bibliometric study published in international scientific journal `Elsevier'. According to the study, Bharat's scholarly output increased from 62,955 papers in 2009 to 106,065 papers in 2013. -goTop


17. COMMEMORATIVE COINS RELEASED ON MAHARANA PRATAP ON HIS 475 BIRTH ANNIVERSARY: As a part of 475th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Maharana Pratap, Union Minister for Culture and Tourism Dr. Mahesh Sharma released a Commemorative coin of Rs. 100 and a circulation coin of Rs. 10 in New Delhi on 9th March. 

Ministry of Culture has been celebrating the 475th birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap during 2015-16 in association with the Government of Rajasthan. A conference and special lecture on Maharana Pratap was organized by Nehru Memorial Museum & Library in the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur on March 4 this year. -goTop


18. BHARAIYA'S AVERAGE WEALTH SOARS 400% IN 2005-15: Average wealth of a Bharatiya surged by 400 per cent in 10 years to 2015 while that of an European citizen declined by 5 per cent during the period, says a report by New World Wealth. The report said that in emerging markets such as Bharat, China and Vietnam, average wealth has gone up by over 400 per cent during the 10-year period (2005-15). The global financial crisis in 2008 and the related housing crisis, had also heavily impacted on the wealth of most European citizens.

Europe is expected to continue to lose primary sector jobs to Asia, particularly to emerging countries such as China, Bharat, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Vietnam. Exodus of wealthy people out of Europe is also expected to continue. -goTop


19. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Visitors: Nataraja - SriLanka


FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The New Nation of India will not tolerate disruptive tendencies in any form. If the process which was adopted in the past and which has resulted in the separation of the country is to be repeated, then those who want that type of thing can have a place in Pakistan but not here. Here we are laying the foundations of one Nation, those who want to divide again and sow the seeds of disruption will have no place and no quarter here. - Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel in his speech in Constituent Assembly on 28-8-1947. -goTop





RK Sinha


The former president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was a torch-bearer for India's nationalist forces. He led the ban on cow slaughter, highlighted the Ram temple cause and demanded the full integration of Jammu & Kashmir into India

With the passing of Balraj Madhok, former president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, on May 2, India lost a formidable intellectual, a bold and fearless leader, a great organiser and a freedom-fighter. Madhok had many firsts to his credit during his long and eventful career. That his funeral was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior BJP leader LK Advani, and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, shows that Madhok was a highly respected leader of the BJP.

Almost half a century ago, I was introduced to Madhok by Deendayal Upadhyay, in Patna, in 1966. As a young lad, I was deeply impressed with Madhok's intellectual prowess and his views on nationalism and social integration.

Madhok was close to Dalit icon BR Ambedkar and met him regularly even in the Dalit icon's last days at 26 Alipur Road, Delhi. Ambedkar was impressed with Madhok's views on Indian culture, his plan to make Sanskrit the link language of the country, and give a just and fair deal to the socially downtrodden people.

Arguably, Madhok was the first to demand a ban on cow-slaughter in India. It was in the 1960s that he raised this issue forcefully. He travelled across the country to create public opinion in favour of banning cow slaughter.

He was of the opinion that the followers of Dharma (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists) consider the cow to be sacred. In light of this, he said India must ban cow slaughter.

In 1968, Madhok also became the first leader to demand that the Ram temple in Ayodhya be handed over to the Hindus, and in return, Hindus should build a big mosque adjacent to the Ram temple.

He made this particular demand when he was a Lok Sabha member from South Delhi constituency. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1957 from the New Delhi seat as a Jana Sangh candidate. That was also the time when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time from Balrampur.

With Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Madhok authored the constitution of the Jana Sangh. On October 21, 1951, the Jana Sangh was formed at Raghumal Arya Kanya School at Raja Bazar, close to Connaught Place in New Delhi. While Mookerjee was elected as president, Madhok was elected as national secretary of the party. At its first session, the party decided that would ensure that cow-slaughter was banned in India.

Madhok was a votary of a 'Hindu Rashtra'. He was instrumental in bringing LK Advani to the Jana Sangh fold. At that time, Upadhyay was looking for a young person who could write good English, translate Press statements, resolutions and other party material. Madhok introduced Advani to the Jana Sangh stalwart. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The Kashmir issue too was close to Madhok's heart. While studying at Lahore, Madhok, in 1938, joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which he found to be close to the Arya Samaj's way of thinking. He became a pracharak for the RSS in 1942 and was sent to Jammu & Kashmir to establish the outfit in that State. Madhok stayed in Jammu for two years, building up the RSS network.

He moved to Srinagar in 1944 as a history lecturer at DAV College and continued to build the RSS network there. When Hindu refugees started arriving in Srinagar after partition, they also joined the RSS branches.

Mehr Chand Mahajan, the Prime Minister of Kashmir from October 15, 1947, was the chairman of the managing society of DAV College. According to Madhok, he had gathered advance intelligence of the invasion by Pakistani raiders and passed it on to the authorities. Madhok mobilised RSS volunteers to defend Srinagar at the request of the Maharaja on October 23, 1947.

Madhok also demanded the complete unification of Jammu & Kashmir with India, in opposition to the loose autonomy negotiated between Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru (later manifested in Article 370). Madhok was externed from Jammu & Kashmir by Abdullah as a result of his political stance. Madhok moved to Delhi in 1948 and started teaching at a college, which was established for the education of refugees from West Punjab. Later, he was a lecturer of history at the DAV College in Delhi, affiliated to Delhi University. In 1951, Madhok launched the student union of the Sangh parivar which later came to be known as the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, Madhok spoke to Narendra Modi who was then campaigning for the top job, and told him, "You will be the Prime Minister of India and BJP will get full majority". His last words to Modi were, "Dateh raho (keep at it)". India's nationalist forces will always remember Madhok with a deep sense of gratitude.

(The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP, 11 May 2016,  The Pioneer ) -goTop



Anirban Ganguly

Prime Minister Modi's Bodh Gaya initiative has made it clear that India's objective is to activate its past civilisational linkages and to restructure them to the exigencies of the present, where it seeks to pursue a pragmatic foreign policy of multi-alignment and multi-engagement

It was in September 2015, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated a wide and intricate outreach to countries that have been shaped by the ideals and legacy of Buddha. It will be interesting, thus, to once again look at that effort in the backdrop of the Lumbini conference this month. Through an international initiative on the theme of Samvad - Global Hindu-Buddhist Initiative on Conflict Avoidance and Environment Consciousness, hosted by the Vivekananda International Foundation,  India, in collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation, stated the aspiration to work for regional stability, prosperity and harmony based on the ancient Indic wisdom that worked to avoid conflict and to re-establish the balance between nature and mankind on a relation that was non-exploitative and based on mutual respect, admiration and yearnings for assimilation. As Modi described it, the conference "was conceptualised on shifting the paradigm from conflict resolution to conflict avoidance and from environmental regulation to environmental consciousness".

It was in this conference that Modi first talked of 'climate justice' - to ensure which, each nation of the region inspired by the Indic philosophies, had to delve into their thought repositories and based on it, shape a framework of cooperation and joint action. He said, "I want to say that we, the present generation, have the responsibility to act as a trustee of the rich natural wealth for the future generations. The issue is not merely about climate change; it is about climate justice. Again, I repeat (it) is not the issue of climate change, it is about climate justice. In my view, the most adversely affected by climate change are the poor and the downtrodden. When a natural disaster strikes, they are hit the hardest. When there are floods, they are rendered homeless; during a quake, their homes are destroyed; during droughts, they are affected; and during extreme cold too, the homeless suffer the most. We can't let climate change keep affecting people in this manner. Which is why I believe the discourse must shift focus from climate change to climate justice."

On the need for the Samvad (dialogue), Modi argued that the Indic wisdom - Hindu and Buddhist - could evolve a new mechanism of conflict-avoidance.  Promotion of dialogue calls for a shift from ideological approach to a philosophic one. Without proper dialogue, neither of the two themes of conflict avoidance is possible, or workable. The severe limitations in our conflict resolution mechanisms are becoming more and more obvious. We need significant, collective and strategic efforts to prevent bloodshed and violence. It is, thus, no surprise that the world is taking note of Buddhism. This is also a recognition of the historical Asian traditions and values, which can be used to shift the paradigm to conflict avoidance, to move from the path of ideology to philosophy...All of us here have a cardinal duty to ensure that our future generations lead a life of peace, dignity and mutual respect. We need to sow the seeds of a conflict-free world and, in this endeavour; faiths of Buddhism and Hinduism have a great contribution.

This conference thus ideated the theme and objective of reaching out to the entire Southeast Asian region through the message of Buddha and the Indic philosophical corpus which had attracted this region over millennia and had enhanced its engagement with civilisational India. In fact, Modi clearly saw, "that without embracing the path and ideals shown by Gautam Buddha, this century cannot be an Asian century!"

In order to take the outreach further and give it a certain concrete momentum, Modi joined the entire international assemblage of thinkers, philosophers, monks, diplomats and practitioners in Bodh Gaya, mediated with them under the sacred Bodhi Tree and reiterated India’s timeless message of dialogue, harmonious living and reverence for nature and for the earth. Modi, in his valedictory address before the international gathering made a few significant points which need reiteration because these are closely identified with India's soft power goals or civilisational belief.

"On the issue of conflicts - most of which are being driven by religious intolerance - the participants in the conference seem to have agreed that while there is no problem about the freedom to practice one's religion, it is when the radical elements try to force their own ideologies on others, that the potential for conflict arises. On the issue of environment, the conference seems to have agreed that the philosophic underpinning of the Dharma, which stresses the protection of natural heritage, is critical for sustainable development. I may add that the United Nations too has arrived at the view that sustainable development is achievable only through aligning development to the local culture of the people."

But perhaps the most significant aspect of this entire soft exercise was the release of the Bodh Gaya Declaration. Bodh Gaya was declared as the "seat of enlightenment for the world of Buddhism and Buddhist civilisation that have inspired all religions of the world".

The declaration, with the Prime Minister's sanction, stated that "a Buddhist spiritual and civilisational institution that will bring together and make the entire Buddhist world participate in this momentous task will be built in Bodh Gaya in the coming three years"; that "Hindu civilisational and spiritual institutions will be invited to work with this new Buddhist institution to share the responsibility for global peace and harmony"; that "Buddhist spiritual leaders will approach Governments of all Buddhist nations to support this monumental and noble task of developing Bodh Gaya as an International Centre of Buddhism for the enlightenment of all humankind". It called upon India to provide support for creating such a vibrant centre of civilisational cooperation.

The very spot where Siddhartha transformed into Shakyamuni thus holds the potential to elevate itself into a radiating power house of light and knowledge and as in the ancient times, like a lighthouse attract civilisations from across the globe. With a rising and renewed interest in Indian traditions and knowledge systems across the world, with the launching of the Indic and Buddhist Studies University at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh - an effort that has silently taken shape away from the glare of false propaganda - India can develop a formidably vibrant Buddhist circuit of knowledge, experience and practice. It can evolve into a circuit that will make India, once again, the centre of Buddhist thought and a genuine repository of Shakyamuni's legacy. India's image as a benefactor and promoter of knowledge and as a power with profound regard for local knowledge systems and ways of living can go a long way in further strengthening this web of Indic and Buddhist knowledge across countries and institutions and create the civilisational spiritual highway.

The Bodh Gaya initiative was an expression of the innovation that has permeated India's soft power engagement and diplomacy ever since Prime Minister Modi took over. India's objective in these two intervening years has been to activate its past civilisational linkages and to re-state and re-structure them to the exigencies of the present where India seeks to pursue a pragmatic foreign policy of multi-alignment and multi-engagement, through which it seeks a genuine and co-equal partnership with those nations and civilisations that had great affinity and proximity to it in the past. The vision that the Bodh Gaya Declaration articulated may thus begin to be worked out with determination and vision.              

(Author is Director, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Research Foundation, New Delhi,  The Pioneer, May 11, 2016.) -goTop

Shri Vishwa Niketan